In 1925, Everett and Helen Jones and their 9-year-old daughter, Doreles, drove from Evanston, Ind., in a pickup truck on their way to California "to find gold."
By the time they reached the Saugus Café, which is where the truck drivers set up tents to wait their turn to go north on the one-way dirt road — the Ridge Route — Helen (my grandmother) had all of the adventure she could take, and stated that she would rent the Swall Hotel, rent the rooms, and provide a home-cooked meal for the truck drivers, and her husband (my grandfather) could continue on his California adventure.
When my grandfather realized that the truckers needed ice to keep the produce cold for their trip north, he called his brother Wallace Jones in Indiana and convinced him to start the Newhall Ice House. He brought his wife, Ruth, and she became the kindergarten teacher at the Newhall Elementary School.
The (renamed) Newhall Hotel had 13 rooms to rent out, and two rooms for her family. My Mother Doreles (Dee) could hardly wait to leave, and at 19 years old, she got married and started her family in the greater Los Angeles area. My brother, Butch McKee, and I attended the Newhall Elementary School and William S. Hart Junior and Senior High School.
In 1942, my grandfather died, and my grandmother married Earl Hutchison in 1950. He became the Newhall Park supervisor.
My grandmother turned the hotel over to her daughter (my mother), and she worked it for the next 10 years. She married Mac McCombs, who worked at the M&M Market and the Newhall Hardware.
Both my grandmother and mother, with their husbands, built their own homes in the Happy Valley area.
Patte Dee McKee left Newhall after high school to pursue a modeling career. During her 25-year career as a fashion model she was discovered by director Howard Hughes and was put under contract with RKO Pictures. Trained at RKO in song and dance, she performed in musical comedies and choral groups in the Los Angeles area. Next she raised four children and became a costume designer on feature films. In 1993 she co-founded the International Family Film Festival in Santa Clarita and currently (2014) serves as its program director. IFFF relocated to the original United Artists studio in Hollywood in 2006 and maintains its business office in Burbank. Patte Dee lives in Newhall.