Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

History Goes 'Round and 'Round
Published in The Signal, 10-16-2005.

Darryl Manzer, 2005     Sometimes you just have to laugh at how history tends to repeat itself. If we didn't laugh, we'd be crying.
    Written history here in North America, especially here in the United States, is filled with folks who: (a) didn't know where they were going; (b) didn't know how to get there; (c) weren't quite sure where they had been once they came back; and (d) did it all with some form of government funding.
    The list is long and famous: Christopher Columbus, Coronado, Ponce de Leon, John Smith, Gaspar de Portolá, John C. Frémont, Theodore Roosevelt, George W. Bush and many others. I could have included most of the population of France and, based on the recent election, most of the German population, too.
    Let's face it. When the de Portolá expedition passed through the SCV they were looking for Monterey. Somehow they missed it and found San Francisco Bay. Now, wouldn't it stand to reason that if you're looking for a bay, you would travel near the ocean?
    Same goes for John C. Frémont. He gained fame as "The Pathfinder." Now, everyone already knew just where to find the paths in California. Trouble is, the maps were printed in Spanish — and John only spoke 'merican. Too bad. Would have saved him lots of time and expense.
    Frémont did have a wonderful press agent — his wife. (And her father.) Frémont was the leader of various expeditions and wrote books about what he did. He got to keep the profits. If not for the great guides he hired, we may have never heard about him. He may have stayed lost.
    Yes, the history of the United States is very often about being lost and confused. When I was very young, I was told that the trail from San Fernando to Newhall was found by John C. Frémont and that is why we called the pass, "Frémont's Pass." (Highway 14 goes through there now). We were also told that Frémont dug the first cut there, too. Never heard of Edward F. Beale.
    So, not only did Frémont not do some stuff; he also got some great press for it almost 100 years later. Of course, when he did some really great stuff — such as emancipate slaves two years before President Lincoln did — he got fired for doing it after getting rather roasted in the media of the day. Bet you didn't know that about him.
    There is the current expedition we have going on in Iraq. We were told one thing to get us there, and many other things to keep us there. Would that Bush had press agents like Frémont. Instead, the ones he has are like the rest of the country — lost and confused. (Nothing new for us). And just how is he paying for it all? Mark my words, taxes are going up.
    I, too, am "lost and confused." Why should we pay for rebuilding $1 million homes and casinos and hotels? Is that the responsibility of the taxpayer? Roads, schools, government-furnished infrastructure I'm willing to help out with, but private concerns? Sorry. You have the money, you pay. Period.
    My political views are just a little left of center, but I look at the current administration and wonder just when the Democrats took over the White House. (And Congress too!) Spend, spend, and spend some more. As Americans, we have IOUs out to most the world. We've borrowed like there is no tomorrow. Well, if we keep running up the debt, there will be no tomorrow for these United States.
    For all of you who are somewhat "right of center," how does it feel to be following a very liberal-spending president? No wonder the Democrats aren't working too hard on finding a candidate for the next election. It appears their man is already in office.
    So you see, history goes 'round and 'round, and it usually comes out here ... no, there ... no, over there ... or maybe there ...

    Darryl Manzer lived in the Santa Clarita Valley oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s as a teenager. He now lives in Virginia.

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