Some 25 years ago I became acquainted with Mimi White. I was a young teen-aged history buff who had caught the eye of Mimi while I was rummaging through the local history books at the Valencia Library. A friendship soon developed and Mimi, the librarian, had a captive audience, regaling me with stories of Santa Clarita Valley history, as well as some of her own family's history.
Mimi was born in Salt Lake City in 1914. She was of Welsh descent; her grandfather was a "Cousin Jack." The Cousin Jacks were Cornish miners who came to America from Wales to work the mines. When one of the Welsh miners landed a job at the mines they would ask, "Do you have a job for my Cousin Jack?" Hence the name. Her grandfather worked in the silver mines of Southern Utah. They resided in the now-ghost town of Silver Reef, Utah.
Mimi and her late husband, Charlie White (1903-1989), were real favorites of the Newhall community. Bobbie Trueblood Davis first met Mimi and Charlie in the early 1950s. "They adored each other," Bobbie recalls. "Mimi knew I was from Devon in England. She would find cups and saucers with 'Devon Violets' and give them to me. I still have them."
Another long-time friend, Cynthia Neal-Harris, remembers many of Mimi and Charlie's adventures. "Mimi was our third president of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society. She was instrumental in so many of the Society's early projects. She was instrumental in the Golden Spike Ceremony at Lang Station; the 50th Anniversary Program of the St. Francis Dam Disaster; and she played a key role in the survival and moving of the Saugus Station."
Cynthia's favorite memory of Mimi was her role in the Hap-A-Land Dance Hall Float, which was the SCV Historical Society's entry in one of Newhall's Fourth of July celebrations. The float was fashioned after Lloyd Houghton's Hap-A-Land Dance Hall business in Newhall in the 1920s. Mimi sang and danced the Charleston; Scott Newhall played the gutbucket; Ruth Newhall, the piano; Norm Harris, the trombone; Bob Porter, the sax; and Walt Klinger, the drums. Cynthia Neal-Harris and Tony Newhall danced and Lloyd Houghton and his daughter, Betty Pember, were on had as well. Charlie White was right in the middle of it all.
Charlie White was an old-time cowboy and an original cowboy poet. Charlie gave trick-roping demonstrations for the Historical Society as well as a demonstration of the old skill of telegraphy.
Mary (Percivalle) Jauregui remembers that Charlie was quite a character. "Charlie needed a horse at the last minute for a Fourth of July parade in Newhall. My husband, Ed, wasn't home. Ed came home later and noticed an unopened bottle of whiskey on the kitchen table. Ed asked who bought the whiskey. I told Ed, 'Charlie White has borrowed one of your horses. He left it for you.'"
Charlie and Mimi were founders of The Little Theatre, located at the same place as the Hap-A-Land Dance Hall. (This building formerly a dance hall, a morgue for victims of the St. Francis Dam disaster, a courthouse, a theatre and now a place of recovery for former connoisseurs of wines, liquors and cordials literally has a history running through its "rafters.")
Mimi is 86 years old now, and her twilight years have not been good to her and her family. Someday soon The Librarian and The Cowboy will be reunited, and although we will miss her, those whose presence they graced will never forget Mimi and Charlie.
David Desmond, of Palmdale, is a member of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society.