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From The Signal Archives: Crashes and strange glows

Posted: July 16, 2009 8:19 p.m.
Updated: July 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Editor’s note: As The Signal celebrates 90 years of service to the Santa Clarita Valley, we offer this peek into the SCV of days past. Following is from the second week of July 1970 in The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise. Note that “Valencia Valley” was the term favored by The Signal in those days for Santa Clarita Valley.

Women and their VWs
“The early part of this week started out incredibly badly in Valencia Valley for women drivers.”

“Women drivers smash VWs” was a front-page story about a two-day period that saw “three women Volkswagen drivers involved in three separate accidents which sent two women to the hospital.”

No serious injuries were reported from the accidents.

A mysterious glow in the sky
“From time to time in the early, early hours of the morning, a yellow-orange glow erupts from the hills south of Soledad Canyon Road.

“Every time it happens, and it happens at least a couple of times a week, the Newhall Sheriff’s Station gets calls from Valencia Valley residents who ask, ‘Where was the explosion?’”

To which the deputies inevitably answer, “‘Testing at Bermite.’”

“The throbbing glow lasts from two to three minutes and can easily be seen from the Golden State Freeway, a half-dozen miles from Bermite.”

A Bermite official denied knowledge of the 2 a.m. flashes, which prompted another investigation from sheriff’s deputies resulting in an agreement whereby Bermite would notify the department of its tests.

Harmer attacks lunches for the needy
“A statewide program to provide nutritious meals for the children of welfare families was blasted this week by Valencia Valley’s state Senator John Harmer as ‘typical of this continual effort to bring about the deterioration of the home and family.’

“Harmer charged that Assembly Bill 318, which would provide the meals ... was taking children out of the home and putting them into day care centers at preschool ages,’ arguing that the purpose of the welfare system was so that mothers could stay home and care for their children.”

Castaic school: only one of its kind
“The Castaic School is a kid’s dream of an elementary school.

“It has its own swimming pool, its own herd of cattle. It has a huge, lush, green back lawn and if they don’t have steak for lunch one day they might have roast beef.

“It’s a strange school in this day of school districts the size of the Los Angeles Unified School District. It is a district with one school, six grades, and kindergarten.

“It’s a dying breed, and the people at the school as well as the few residents of the tiny town of Castaic know it, but they don’t like it.”

The article points out that while “many of the area’s residents are poor, and the student population has increased by a third in the last ten years ... the one-school district has always been wealthy because of the highly taxable oil fields in the hills within the district’s boundaries.”

The article also reported that at the time, the Castaic district was spending $1,000 annually per student, compared to the Saugus and Newhall districts, which then spent $765.

Census: How many are we?
“Census takers this spring plodded through the tracts and bumped up the ranch roads through the canyons and across the hills.”
While officials said the estimates wouldn’t be ready until August or September, there was an unusually high amount of interest in the statistics because of the areas phenomenal growth in the last few years.

“Thirty years ago, nearly everyone in this vast valley knew everyone else. There were fewer than 4,000 souls in this enclave. Twenty years later, in 1960 the population was 15,000.”

 In 1970, the estimated population was 62,000.


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