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Norman Harris: Man With a Tale of Two (Sister) Cities.


Above: Norman Harris. Photos by Lionel Rolfe/The Signal, February 13, 1968. Click to enlarge.


Webmaster's notes.

Santa Clarita had a South Korean sister city in 1968 — two decades before Santa Clarita became a city.

The Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce changed its name to Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Com­merce in 1980.

Norman Harris (1941-2013) would go on to become a founding member (1975) and later president of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society; in the 1980s and 1990s he led the restoration of the locomotive that sits next to the Saugus Train Station in Newhall.


Norman Harris: Man With a Tale of Two Cities


Click to enlarge.

When Valencia Valley's most prominent businessmen gather tomorrow noon at their regularly scheduled Chamber of Commerce luncheon, one of those who may appear out of place will be a rather shy, retiring young man named Norman Harris who sweats a lot when he gets nervous.

In a very important way, Harris, a Newhall-bom youth who earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at only 26 years of age, will be the man of the hour.

Tomorrow his home town will be accepting a proclamation from the South Korean town of Chun-an [aka Cheonan], making Newhall her official "sister city." In turn, the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce will be making note of the fact that such a relationship exists by the ceremonies that will take place in the Valencia Clubhouse.

Congressman Edwin Reinecke has been invited to the ceremonies. So have county supervisor Warren M. Dorn and State Senator John L. Harmer.

Whether these men will show up has not yet been confirmed.

The Senator.

But beyond almost any doubt, Chong Chul Kim, a senator of the Republic of Korea, will. He is scheduled to present the proclamation and a scrap book detailing the history of Newhall's first and very own sister city.

Basically, whatever is said and done tomorrow will be all in homage of Norman Harris.

For it is due to him that the entire ceremony will be taking place, indeed that Newhall now has a sister city at all.

It was four years ago that Harris and a friend of his he met on a summer job in Los Angeles first started talking about making their two home towns sister cities.

The friend was Chong S. Kim, a brother of Senator Kim, who lives in Los Angeles and works as a chemist. The Kims' home town is Chun-an. The Korean family had made their lives and fortunes in chemicals.

"The talk was pretty nebulous all those years," Harris said. "But when I told him I was going to go on a three-month trip to the Far East, he suggested now was the time."

Kim first sent off a cable to his influential brother and later followed it up with a letter. By the time Harris arrived in Chun-an last November, everything was ready to go.

A high school auditorium in the town about 80 miles south of the capital, Seoul, was pressed into service. Press and television turned out in droves to cover the big event.

The governor, mayor and Senator Kim himself attended the ceremonies there. So did about 300 citizens. They were presented with a hand-lettered proclamation from Newhall done by The Signal's own society editor, Bobbie Trueblood.

Still, Newhall didn't know about it.

Who to Accept.

One of the problems Harris found on returning with the proclamation of friendship towards Newhall, hand-lettered in Korean, was who in Newhall should accept it.

Newhall, after all, is not really a city.

First he contacted the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce, next County Supervisor Warren M. Dorn, who comes about as close as anybody to being Newhall's local government, and finally a letter to the League of Cities in Washington, D.C., keepers of the records of official sister cities.

Although the league has not yet replied, tomorrow the ceremonies should be enough to make it all official.

Chun-an, a town of some 78,000 population, most of them engaged in agriculture — namely the growing of rice — will be Newhall's sister city.

The big question, as Harris sees it, is what Newhall will do for that relationship.

Officially, being a sister city means little more than the fact that two towns in different nations have declared that bonds of friendship and goodwill exist between thorn.

Chun-an is geographically very much like Newhall, except that it gets colder. It also, like Newhall, is a place that needs lots of development.

Differences.

There are some important differences, too. Chun-an has a history that goes back thousands of years. A few of its buildings are nearly that old, except that most were destroyed in the Korean War.

The area is just now beginning to get some industry, very much like Newhall.

Also like Newhall, Chun-an las no high-rise. The buildings are almost all single and two stories high.

But the one big difference is in the people. They are much poorer than residents of Newhall.

It is here that Harris hopes the relationship will blossom into something more than the exchanging of scrolls.

"A sister city program can be what you make of it," Harris explains.

And what Harris wants to make of it are such things as donating books to Chun-an so the people there can learn to read in English, exchanging pen-pal letters, and biggest of all, the possibility of setting up a foreign student exchange program.

Tomorrow the ceremony will take place. And the day after, Harris hopes, the beginning of a life-long relationship will start, one as good as the best of marriages.



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Letters to the Editor

[Illegible] We are fortunate that Senator Chong Chul Kim of Chun-an, South Korea, is in this country for two weeks and will attend our sister city ceremony at noon Thursday, February 15. The Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce has invited Supervisor Warren Dorn, State Senator John Harmer, Congressman Edwin Reinecke, and interested citizens for the ceremony to be held at the Valencia country club.

The sister city program between Chun-an, Korea, and Newhall was suggested to the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce by my friend Chong S. Kim and myself. In the regular Chamber meeting of October 1967, the idea was well received and approved in order to promote mutual friendship and goodwill. A sister city proclamation, hand-lettered by Bobbie Trueblood, and an engraved trophy were given to Chun-an on November 1, 1967.

Upon finishing grad school in Illinois, I made a three-month trip around the world. Since I was making the trip already, I delivered the proclamation and trophy to the mayor and citizens of Chun-an.

The

officials and citizens of Chun-an were very enthusiastic about the sister-city relation to Newhall. They made elaborate preparations for their ceremony. The Governor, the Senator, two Peace Corps workers, the high school chorus, and a large number of citizens participated in the ceremony, which was publicized by TV and newspapers. An engraved proclamation plaque and a picture scrapbook of the history and present story of Chun-an were presented to Newhall.

I visited with Danny Agajanian, the son of Mr. & Mrs. Elisha Agajanian of Newhall, who is a U.S. Army M.P. stationed in Inchon, Korea, near the border with North Korea. He impressed me with the need for improved relations between our peoples. I see this program could be a worthwhile contribution toward better understanding and friendship between our countries.

Sincerely,
Norman Harris


Sister Cities

Senator Chong Chul Kim Completes His Mission.


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The two big black Cadillac limousines were the tipoff that something unusual was going on at the Valencia Clubhouse Thursday noon.

Even the men and women going to the affair inside couldn't help but be impressed that any entourage with two limousines lent a kind of class to the scene, indicating this was not just an everyday event.

They didn't go up to Korean Senator Chong Chul Kim standing in a corner, flanked by his countrymen of different rank, and say so, but they did talk about it amongst themselves.

"Did you see those Cadillacs outside?" one said to another, truly awed.

Senator Kim, in contrast to some in his audience who had come to the meeting still dressed in their everyday clothes, was immaculately dressed and impeccably diplomatic.

He stood in a corner making polite conversation and being introduced to the people he should be introduced to.

When the proper time came, he sat down at the front table of honor, ate his lunch, listened to a multitude of reports covering everything from Newhall's plans for a Fourth of July parade to a report on Boy Scout recruitment, looking as interested as if the fate of the Pueblo and its 83 men held by North Korea were being decided.

Goodwill.

The only thing was that since Senator Kim was on a "goodwill mission," he wouldn't say anything about the Pueblo, not even his own personal opinions.

And that, nodded one or two bystanders, was as it should be.

For Thursday's meeting, which took place over plates of Swiss steak swimming in gravy, surrounded by yellow noodles, was a session of the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce.

And Senator Kim, as everybody knew, had come to make official the fact that the Korean town of Chun-an from where he comes and where he owns a big chemical plant was not [sic] Newhall's first sister-city.

He heard a proclamation read by a representative of County Supervisor Warren M. Dorn and a telegram from Congressman Edwin Reinecke, who begged the Senator's indulgence for not being able to be present, but welcomed him to his district.

Then Senator Kim stood up, and after posing for the press photographers, he delivered a plaque and a scrapbook.

The plaque was made out of mahogany and inlaid pearl with coats of hand-rubbed lacquer so thick it looked like plastic

It was held up for the audience to ooh and ahh at.

Then the scrapbook was presented. It was obvious that someone had spent hours, even days putting it together. It showed in words and pictures what kind of city Newhall had for its first and own sister city.

Later, Norman Harris, the young Newhall-born lad who was responsible for setting up the sister-city relationship, showed slides of Chun-an he had taken when he was there last November.

As the audience looked on, they couldn't help but comment on how much Chun-an looks like Newhall.

Resemblance.

There were even industrial plants with a striking resemblance to such well-known local plants as Thatcher and Bermite and a downtown main street business section with an almost uncanny resemblance to Newhall's own downtown section.

Even the agricultural fields in Chun-an that are planted in rice looked suspiciously like some of the monotonous onion fields surrounding the local town.

About the only thing missing in Newhall's new sister city: tract homes.


Download more images of Norman Harris from this film roll here. Signal Photo Archive, Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society Collection.
NORMAN HARRIS

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Newhall House Story

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Sister City Story 1968

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Blue Cloud Mine

Obituary 2013


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