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From The Signal Archives: Irregardless, the rent is too high

Posted: September 10, 2009 9:27 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2009 12:56 p.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 Sept. 3, 1969, issues of The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise.

No place to live
On the front page of The Signal, readers learned of a lack of rental properties in the SCV — and too-high prices.

“Local youngsters will probably never have the experience of seeing a ‘vacancy’ or ‘for rent’ sign if they have not seen one by now — even if they spend their entire lives in Valencia Valley.

“And even if, by some slim chance, they do see a ‘vacancy’ sign, and their parents want to rent the house or apartment, the rent will probably be so high that their father will not be able to afford it.”

The rental conditions imposed by landlords in 1969 included first and last month’s rent, a security and cleaning deposit, and even charges for utilities, cable TV and trash collection, continued the article, whose writer seemed to find these expectations outrageous.

“First and last month rent for a family wanting a two or three bedroom house might be as much as $400,” the article warned readers.

Just back in 1963, it continued, such a house would rent for only $45 a month.

Causes listed for the skyrocketing rents included greedy landlords and new conveniences that cost more money to provide, the article said.

“Valencia Valley” was The Signal’s name for the Santa Clarita Valley back in the ’60s.

Bermite blows up
Negligence and an electrical spark were blamed for an explosion at the Bermite Powder Company that killed two men and injured eight others.

The spark came from a blending machine that mixed “materials, including magnesium, polyester resin, and sodium nitrate for high-intensity flares,” the article said.

Such compounds were “spilled on the blending room floor ‘in small piles’ around and under the blending machines,” Bermite employees told The Signal.

Today we know the Bermite Powder Company as Whittaker-Bermite, a brownfield area being cleaned up.

Gaily dressed señoras

On The Signal’s society page for Sept. 3, a column by January Jones reported, “Last weekend’s Mexican Fiesta presented by the Sierra Hills Women’s Club brought one hundred and fifty gaily dressed señoras and señoritas, sporting an array of costumes ranging from black lace to multicolored serapes.”

‘In’ and out of sight

Another event mentioned in the Jones column was the “In-Thing” planned for teenagers at Newhall Park. It promised: “Games, dinner and dancing will be available to all local teens, with out-of-sight door prizes being donated by local businessmen and that popular radio station KRLA.”

No horsing around
The society page also featured a story on a dressage society clinic at Two Track Farm in Saugus.

“During the course of the afternoon, riders were reminded of bad habits which should be broken and the importance of keeping one’s head up,” the article reads.

“To illustrate a point, one girl was reminded quite strongly by a piece of string tied to her long hair and then to the belt loop of her breeches!!” (exclamation marks included).

Mind your Ps and Qs
A letter to the editor from Mrs. Ralph Lent took “writers of fiction, plays, humorous and dialect pieces” to task for poor word usage.

“In most cases,” she scolded, “there is only one acceptable way of spelling a word.” “Road,” “rowed” and “rode” are not interchangeable.

“A few of the objectionable words and phrases which have appeared in The Signal,” she wrote, are: “unrelentless,” “a little unique,” ... “unresistless” and “irregardless.”

We’re not sure whether she considered the local newspaper to be fiction, a play, or a humorous and dialect piece.

— Lila Littlejohn


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