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Don Gately: What happened to the friendly SCV I knew?

Posted: January 22, 2010 5:16 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2010 4:55 a.m.
This used to be a friendly place. Everyone smiled. Everyone said “hello,” “good morning” or “nice day.” Maybe “How’s it going?”

It was 1972 when I came here. The valley was mostly all onion or carrot fields and very few streets.

You didn’t have to look both ways to cross Lyons Avenue — you knew no traffic was coming and if there was, drivers would honk to greet you — not to give you the finger.

I lived in the brand-new community of Valencia. The old town of Newhall was full of charm and ambiance. It had Hart High School, William S. Hart Park and very little else. Way on the other side were Saugus and Canyon Country.

There was the Saugus Café, The Way Station and Chi Chi’s Pizza if we wanted to eat out. Or we went to Tip’s in what is now Stevenson Ranch, where bartender Bobby Batugo won the best drink contest every year.

Folks way over on the other side — in Canyon Country — went to the other Tip’s on Sierra Highway, or maybe to the Backwoods Inn. And lots of younger folks went to the Casa Grande on Lyons Avenue to live it up on Saturday nights.

Growth was inevitable. Unfortunately, in the process we lost the friendliness.

When I walk Valencia’s beautiful paseos, more people than not don’t say hello.

They don’t even smile or nod. They pass right by as if I was not there. What’s with that?

There’s lots of trash, too. I usually pick it up as I walk. There are trash barrels every few blocks to deposit it.

Particularly, near a school I pass there are discarded candy wrappers and such. I wonder if parents and teachers urge their kids to be good citizens and keep our lovely neighborhood clean.

It’s not just kids. There are also beer bottles, cigarette packs and doggie bags.

The litterers are worse, but why do I not see other people picking up the trash as they pass, instead of ignoring it?

Have they no pride in our area?

There’s graffiti, too, but I have to say, the city and volunteers are doing a good job of combating it.

Bicyclists may be even less friendly than walkers. All tucked in with their spandex suits and helmets, they pass me on my bicycle going the opposite way and seldom even glance at me. I guess as a motorcyclist I’m used to being waved at by other motorcyclists.

Maybe if I donned a multi-colored stretch outfit the other bicyclists would acknowledge me. Recently, I was on a sidewalk on Copper Hill Drive that was too narrow for cyclists going in opposite directions. Since a fellow biker was coming the other way, I moved aside to let him pass, which he did. No word of thanks for my courtesy — not even a nod.

Crossing the street can get you killed. Even if you’re in a crosswalk, lots of drivers are in too big a hurry to stop or even slow down. 

Some even honk, as if to say: “Get the hell out of the way.”

This is still a great place to live. And now we have the benefit (?) of malls, strip centers, restaurants and shops.

But I miss the old days. So come on people — lighten up. Take time to smile, to nod — maybe even say hello. It won’t hurt.

In fact, you may be surprised at how good it makes you feel — especially when the other person smiles back.

Don Gately is a Valencia resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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