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Frank Marion: Remembering the way things were

SCV Voices

Posted: February 3, 2010 9:45 p.m.
Updated: February 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.
I moved into my home in the Santa Clarita Valley in 1964. I was the first one in my tract and watched it being built.

I chose the SCV when living in Reseda, while most people were moving to either Thousand Oaks or the sleepy, nonindustrial, bedroom community of Simi Valley.

The 118 Freeway and Interstate 405 had not yet been completed. To access Simi Valley, you took the winding pass through the mountains adjacent to today's freeway.

To get to points south, you took Sepulveda Boulevard. While working at the University of California, Los Angeles, running the cyclotron for the physics department's graduate students, when Sepulveda was full of cars, I took every pass available over the top of the mountain.

There were only about five tracts of new homes in the Santa Clarita area. Shaeffer, Bonelli, American Beauty, North Oaks and the one I chose - Emblem. We went all out, since this was to be the first home in our life, and paid $18,000. We still live in it.

In my day, you bought a home and lived in it until you died, and you got married and stayed married. I lived up to both standards - my wife died in 1998 after we were married 43 years.

If my wife wanted to go a mall, we went to Bullocks Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks. Once the Topanga and Nothridge malls were built, we went there. To shop at a Sears store we had to drive to North Hollywood.

We had no Central Park - now located across from my neighborhood - to take my son to when he was small. We took Michael and drove to the two county parks near Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, which are hidden among homes and hidden from the general public.

Mostly only the people from the homes surrounding these parks enjoy them.

My family doctor (Dr. Companeitz) made house calls. I often went to get a haircut at my barber in downtown Newhall and there was a sign on his door: "Gone fishing."

I could stand in the vicinity where Chi-Chi's Pizza is now (Bouquet and Soledad canyon roads), look north and it was completely devoid of civilization, other than a fruit stand called Tapia Brothers.

We had two drive-in movie theaters. It's sad our kids will grow up and never have the experience of going to one.

We had an A&W drive-in grill with car service.

We had several hospitals. Several times, I was at Inter-Valley Community Hospital in Saugus over the railroad tracks on Golden Triangle Road. This hospital had a small-town feel, where most of the employees knew each other.

I actually enjoyed my experiences there. I was in it when the Northridge Earthquake hit and the overpasses went down. The power went out in the hospital, and I happened to be a walking patient and went around the hospital rallying the employees wherever I could.

Afterward, I was the only patient who, if my food came and I was not in my room, was paged over the public-address system (normally reserved for doctors). My exploit was also mentioned in the hospital bulletin.

There were also three Tip's restaurants in the area. It's rumored that one of them was where James Dean stopped in to eat on the fateful day in 1955 that he was killed in an auto collision.

There is a lot of interesting history that took place in this valley. A lot is preserved and makes for excellent day trips.

I love this valley and I'm glad I chose to move here. I have seen tremendous changes. I retired here, and you couldn't pay me to move.

I think it is the best place I know of to live and if you offered me a home to live in, at no expense, in any other area, I would not take you up on it.

I have a local friend who is going to move to Florida, where there's humidity, mosquitoes and other disadvantages. He can have it. Me - never.

Frank Marion is a Saugus resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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