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Mr. SCV, John Boston, to be Grand Marshal of Fourth of July parade

Posted: June 27, 2008 10:09 p.m.
Updated: August 30, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Mr. SCV himself was chosen as this year's grand marshal. Signal Staff Writer Katherine Geyer had a few questions for the legendary John Boston, who answered as only John Boston would.

Q: So Mr. SCV, how did you get the name Mr. SCV?

A: I am distantly related to Antonio del Valle, original owner of the SCV and St. Claire. But then, it's a small town. Who isn't related to the del Valles? Over the years, all kidding aside, I grew to love the Santa Clarita Valley more and more and felt a responsibility to the place. I had been given a gift to make people laugh, and it was a joy to share my disasters and a few triumphs with several thousand good neighbors, though unwashed godless latte-slurping cement monkeys most might be.

Q: What is John Boston up to these days?

A: John Boston is up to 6-2, 230 pounds. John Boston has a regular TV show on Channel 20 on weekends. John Boston is working on putting together a comprehensive encyclopedia and almanac on the Santa Clarita Valley and has just signed a contract to write a history book on the joint. John Boston'll be offering his 10-week history class through the Santa Clarita Historical Society in September. Check the Web site for further details. Take it, if you haven't. John Boston is working on a non-fiction book called "Daily English Muffins" and his new novel, "Writing Poorly." John Boston is raising his 5-year-old daughter, Indiana Boston, and his 85-year-old father, Walt. John Boston is working out at the gym, upper body mostly, to practice his backwards papal wave for the parade. John Boston has never answered a question before as if he were a bloated and affected wide receiver in the NFL, reciting his name before each response. It's rather liberating.

Q: In all the years you've watched (and participated in) the Fourth of July Parade, who was your favorite grand marshal?

A: John Boston thinks it would have to be Mamie van Doren. She went through in the late 1950s topless. It was quite a spectacle. Several Baptist ladies swooned and, obviously distracted, the D.A.R. mini-motorcycle entry hit a propane tank, barbecuing the entire chapter. It took them years to rebuild. The D.A.R. Not the propane tank. Mamie got terribly sun-burned and had to be immersed in a tub of butter face down at the old Burbank Creamery for over a month. After that, Mamie was briefly married to Mayor Bob Kellar, although more in a conjugal visit sort of way. That's where Bob got the permanent overbite. Of course, Richard Nixon was a close second as my favorite grand marshal, although it was right after he resigned and he just drove through in a limo with the windows blacked out. There was some stink because he insisted on having two "Ls" in "Marshal." Bet that last one drove the alleged copy desk nuts. I wasn't around in 1933, but I would have liked to have seen Tiburcio Vasquez. I bet he was a great grand marshal. That stuff about him being hanged in 1876? Completely made up by The Man.

Q: Tell us about the time you were almost the grand marshal.

A: Actually, it wasn't "almost." I was. About 30 years ago, I was visited by dark angels who implanted a devious idea in my noggin. I got into cahoots with a pal of mine, Camille Jauregui, granddaughter of the old Hall of Fame cowboy Andy. Cammy was, and is, just drop-dead sexy gorgeous. I mean, movie star beautiful. I think it was Tony Mason who snapped some fake Hollywood publicity stills of us in muted light and our true identities hidden by giant cowboy hats. We counterfeited fake stationery, which was real tough to do back then, and wrote a letter to the Fourth of July committee stating we were a production company making a mini series on the life of William S. Hart and asked if we could ride in the parade. My best pal, Philly "Cream Cheese" Lanier, was gracious enough to let us use one of his Hollywood phone lines and address to cover the ruse. Well. The parade committee was delighted in a Gomer Pyle/ "Gaaaawwllleeeee" fashion. But, a couple of days later, they called and graciously offered to supply a convertible for us. Cammy and I snickered and thought that'd be fun. But our prank unraveled with terrifying consequences. They called back and offered to make us division marshals (one "L"). Like little kids caught in sin, we panicked. We were in our 20s but this was still farming country and there were people in the committee then not above administering corporal punishment. And it nose-dived from there. They called a third time, inviting us to be the grand marshals. There was now no way we could show up and ride through the parade, although, in retrospect, it might have been a major coup to try and pull off, in front of several thousand people, that I was actually Slade Rondo, Handsome Hollywood Leading Man and not John Boston, Award-Winning Rural Pest. We ended up sending a letter stating that our company had lost funding and we were canceling the project. Did I tell you Camille and I are making a movie on the life of Tom Mix? Would you like to see the publicity pictures? We've got Photo Shop in 2008 and it looks like I actually weigh 175.

Q:What was the most memorable Fourth of July you spent in the SCV?

A: Heavens. There were several. I used to serve as equestrian marshal and get to lead the parade out atop a tall steed. I remember the first time I rode, it was probably the coolest July 4 on record. I'm riding down Lyons Avenue, dancing bears, Boy Scouts and drooling bureaucrats dragging trail. It's about 60 with a fine mist drizzling, waving to dear friends from my hometown on that beautiful holiday of independence. My lungs were so filled with joy and hope, I felt I could float above the saddle. Life was impossibly wonderful. If I'm remembering correctly, I think I was riding Magic Moment, this gorgeous, spirited Irish warmblood.|

I used to ride in a flatbed with several friends in our loose-knit albeit highly selective fraternal organization, "The Worthless Sons of the Wealthy Landowners." We'd dress up as bogus politicians: Carl Sinatra, Mayor of Palm Springs; Judge Orlando Bone´; 6th District Supervisor Felix Food, to name a few. Most people can't name the president, let alone their state assemblyman (Cameroon Diaz Smytheosaurus). Half the route thought we actually were politicians and they waved like Soviet peasants. I'm not making that up. It's some odd custom to blacken their teeth, smudge their faces, dress in rags and wave while shouting: "Peristroika! Peristroika!" A quarter got the joke and/or knew who we were and a quarter of the parade route sort of sickly waved with an unsure expression on their faces. Or maybe they were just Libertarians. Because I had connections, I'd bribe Fred Trueblood with a six-pack of cold beer in a brown paper bag. We'd cruise through the parade once, race through the back streets and wiggle back in line in time to ride through a second time. If everyone did that today, I think it would make the parade more entertaining, if not longer.

There was one Fourth where our float, right before the parade, whisked by Congressman Buck McKeon's convertible. In politician fashion, Buck waved with his big government cheese optimistic congressional smile, recognized me then drooped as if a ghost had passed over him. Another holiday, Ed Davis was running for state Senate and did the same thing. Before the parade, we caught him visiting the Andy Gump (great family, by the way). We had these fake election posters: "Re-Elect Your Leaders in Action."

When Ed came out of the latrine, we snapped a perfect shot of him adjusting his fly and looking up like a busted Wile E. Coyote - with that big placard right behind him. Ran it in The Signal newspaper for years and made it a point to send him tearsheets in Morro Bay. Ed was good medicine. So was his wife, Bobbie Trueblood.

Then, one year, I remember I was leading out the parade and was sicker than the Democratic Party. I dragged my sorry heinie out of bed. That year, I was riding Brownie, a steed about three stories taller than the Trojan Horse. I was so weak, I thought I needed an extra bounce to get up into the saddle and ended up dude ranching myself all the way over the horn and back down to Earth a few inches from where I had been originally standing, albeit on the other side of the horse. Brownie hadn't moved. He just looked down at me with a look of unbridled disdain as if to say: "Would you like a T-shirt that says ‘Rookie?'" I mean, the parade is STARTING, I'm supposed to be leading it and I'm laying on my back, sucking canal water (did I tell you I also had the flu?) and trying to catch my breath. Well. Show must go on. A kind sheriff's deputy (and most are, by the way) helped me up and the parade went on without a hitch. There is still the indentation at Hart Park where I landed to prove it.


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