You would have to be at least 60 years old to remember Newhall, Saugus, Val Verde and Castaic as small communities, rather than the growing metropolis of today. But do you...
Remember when ... Newhall Avenue ran all the way across the farm fields from the swimming pool to hit San Fernando Road at the Edison plant? Several seventh and eighth graders picked onions in those fields near the park. We earned an amazing 12 cents per full gunnysack. We'd get enough money to pay for admission to the pool that afternoon after picking.
Remember when ... the American Legion building was actually a movie theater, built with funds from William S. Hart, and there was a malt shop in the right-hand corner?
Highway 99 in 1955. Click to enlarge.
Remember when ... Lyons Avenue was only a two-lane street running out from Happy Valley to Highway 99 and the site where the tragic Newhall Incident ended? About the only business early on was the bowling alley.
Remember when ... Highway 99 (the Ridge Route) was a four-lane road from Castaic north and known as the Five-mile Grade — two lanes northbound, two lanes southbound — and there were many trucks that came downhill into Castaic with no brakes or ran off the road into the east side canyon, scattering their load on the highway? Now Interstate 5, running north only with those four lanes, while southbound vehicles come downhill on the four-lane east side of the "new" freeway.
Remember when ... the Ostrom family owned the American Theater, and then also opened the area's only drive-in theater out in San Francisquito Canyon?
Remember when ... Saugus was just a wide spot in the road with a café and the train station? But the Saugus Cafe was a late-night popular meeting place for Hart students after athletic events.
Remember when ... there were no Castaic or Pyramid lakes, and the State Water Project came down from the Sacramento Delta and across the San Joaquin Valley?
Remember when ... mail came to town via the Southern Pacific Railroad? There was a post where the local postman hung a sack of mail for the train to snatch up as it roared by. Incoming mail was a sackful of mail tossed out of the mail car door as it roared past; a local postal worker would pick up the sack and take it to the post office.
Remember when ... Hart students had a long bus ride to and from school, like from Bouquet Canyon, Sand Canyon, San Francisquito Canyon and a few miles above the Ridge Route?
Joe Kapp, SCVTV Newsmaker in 2005. Click for interview.
Remember when ... Hart had several great years in athletics in the '50s, including our 1958-1959 basketball team, on which I played, coached by John Kalin, that went 25-5 for the season with a school record 17 wins in a row? But we lost and finished in second place in the CIF finals to San Marino High School. Our football team was also great, coached by Don Stalwick, with an 11-1 mark and also went against San Marino — only to lose, also, in the CIF semi-finals.
Remember when ... the mid-1950s had its share of great Hart athletes, including pro football player Joe Kapp, who led the Minnesota Vikings into the Super Bowl; track star Bobby Avant, the best high jumper in the United States in 1957; and Tommy Herrington, one of the nation's best track stars, as a pole vaulter?
Remember when ... several motion pictures were shot on the streets of Newhall, including "Suddenly" in 1954 with Frank Sinatra and Sterling Hayden? I was only in the sixth or seventh grade but went every day during the Easter week vacation to watch the filming. I shot a few pictures with my little Brownie camera on several occasions on the main drag in Newhall. At another filming at the Shady Cove trailer park on San Fernando Road, I got autographs from Lee Van Cleef and the buxom Mamie Van Doren.
1954 Hart grad Gary Lockwood (birth name John Gary Yurosek) in the second pilot episode of "Star Trek." You might recognize him from Stanley Kubrick's
"2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968). He cruised Newhall with Tuesday Weld, but he married Stefanie Powers.
Remember when ... movie actor Gary Lockwood (Gary Yurosek, Hart '55 grad) cruised the main drag in Newhall in his white Cadillac convertible with his actress girlfriend Tuesday Weld?
Remember when ... one late afternoon, those still at sports practice heard an explosion? It came from the science room where student Robert Lee was apparently mixing up some explosive substance when it went off. The flying debris cut a vein on his body. He tried to run out and fell near the entrance to the girls' gym locker room ... and expired there.
Remember when ... the naked body of Daryl Kelch, my classmate, was found buried in the hills near Fillmore? As far as I know, no one ever discovered what happened or who murdered him. It was assumed he hitch-hiked in the San Fernando Valley and was picked up by a pervert.
Remember when ... late one afternoon we were at an eighth-grade football practice when we saw a twin-engine military aircraft fly overhead? It looked like one engine was on fire. As we watched, the plane circled back and was heading from Newhall toward Saugus. We saw several people parachute from the plane. I think there were nearly 20 people in the air, coming down from Newhall and up past Saugus. We saw the plane come lower, then roll over; the pilot bailed out and the plane crashed. It turned out to be military chaplains being transported northward. None had ever "jumped" before, but there were only a few minor injuries — bumps and bruises upon landing. Amazingly, no one died or was seriously injured.
Bill Rice graduated from Hart High School in 1959 and lived in Newhall from 1953 to 1980.