Roughly the years from 1965 on. Right about the time I scored my drivers license learners permit. I’ll be jumping around as one story will pin ball into another one. Names might be left out because of lawsuits. If still alive they’ll know exactly what their end of a story is.
Soledad Canyon Road. So many shennanigans almost take an entire book for this street alone. It runs a longggggg way. While stealing ice cream at Whites Canyon from the drug store, caught along with Frank Angelostro by some pissed off parents and held for the Sheriffs. We’re taken from the manager’s office in cuffs to a waiting Blazer-type vehicle. Instead of heading towards Newhall, we stay on Soledad all the way out of civilization and up into the wilds past Rivers End trailer park. Holy shit!!! Rivers End!!! I haven’t thought of that place in YEARS! Have to get back to that joint later.
So, the cops take us to a little spot off Soledad called Aqua Dulce Canyon Road. A bad place for me to be at any time. So many people on that road wanted me dead it was a blessing to have cops with me. Not heading to Newhall had both of us concerned. We also had the ‘quiet’ cops that only talked when answering their radio. Now, Frank was the tough guy of our partnership. Since his dad beat the shit out of Frank and his older brother weekly, Frank could take an adult-style beating no problem. Me? My mouth always did my fighting. That’s why I usually hung with tough guys. Having hot older sisters kept me in a steady supply of older guys who actually had trucks and cars.
As the cops pull over, the sun is now starting to go down. Since the freeway to Palmdale hadn’t been built yet, the odds of some heavy traffic was zero. More like no traffic. Without a word we’re taken out of the vehicle and uncuffed. The taller pot-bellied cop tells us in a low voice, “Start running punks!” Frank is off like a rabbit into the near by wash full of brush and rocks. I run sort of sideways to see the bullets coming after about ten strides. The cops are bent over double laughing. Sure, they could laugh. I was running right towards Tony Epper’s ranch near Vasquez Rocks park. From a little incident at Thompson’s rifle range, not a guy I wanted to run into. He had been shooting trap and I was loading the trap machine in the cement blockhouse along with a nutcase kid named Scott Kingston. No, not the older one with the woody surf wagon. His younger brother Mr. Nutcase magazine cover boy two times already by 15 years old. Epper was shooting against Joe Canutt, Yakima Canutt’s son. I liked Joe since he was my pal Forest’s uncle so I was putting small cracks in Epper’s clay pigeons every fifth round or so making him blow his shots. He ended up charging the blockhouse and threatened to start shooting into the mechanical arms aperture that tossed the discs. I stayed put until Mrs. Thompson showed up in her white pickup to fire me. I asked her how come me? She just shook her head. They usually hired me back.
One time Frank invites me to spend the night at his house. Forest Canutt came over since we were about a hundred yards from his house on Beaver Run Road off of Sand Canyon… Saugus Sand Canyon. Not the Sand Canyon I’m off of now. Two different animals. Forest heads for home and Frank insists I sleep in his bed while he uses his sleeping bag near his closet. Sam, Frank’s older brother, was fighting with Frank’s mom in the front room so we hit the hay early. Frank tells me I’ll be insulting Italians if I don’t accept his hospitality. I say thanks and go right to sleep as Frank hits the light. I’m woken up by someone beating the living shit out of me. I scream for help. The room’s only light is from the TV screen down a long hallway away. My attacker is suddenly off of me and the room’s overhead light is snapped on.
In front of me is a short, wide, half-naked extremely hairy Italian man with a big wide black belt in his right fist. The side of my face is throbbing and my nose is bloody. As Frank blasts out the bedroom door in his boxers, his still stunned father doesn’t even take a swing at him. His father is in a drunken stupor. He finally says a slurred, “Who the fuck are you?” As I jump out of Frank’s bed and start speed dressing. Frank’s mom is now in the hallway screaming at Frank’s old man, “YOU STINKING ROTTEN ANIMAL. YOUR BEATING THE NEIGHBORS’ KID!” That sentence is etched into my mind as if it was said an hour ago. Now he gets the picture.
Frank’s mom is now in high gear as we all head towards the kitchen. It was my first time in the house and the kitchen had the door out, was all I remembered. Nope. Frank’s mom starts cooking some sausage and eggs while Frank’s pop apologizes over and over to me while trying to give me all the money in his wallet. It was only about thirty bucks so I told him to forget about it, I just wanted to go home. We eat and it’s over and done with. Two years later Frank’s dad once again beat the crap out of me over the Jewel Tea man caper, but, another story.
Ace Cains bar and trout ponds were not too far down Sand Canyon from Frank’s house so we goofed off there a lot. Johnny Rodriguiz, a friend of Sam’s, would chase us off for his dad (the owner) when we got out of control. Frank and I taught these monkeys Ace had in a big cage near the trout ponds how to jerk off and that got us 86’ed from the place for quite awhile. We would sneak in through Brian Thompson’s property that was right up the wash. Not the same Thompson as the rifle range Thompson’s. Brian had rich parents and thought he could buy his way out of anything. After we all had to see the judge from the head on train prank at the Soledad Capra train tunnel, Frank and I get sentenced ahead of Brian since his parents hired a lawyer for him. I get three months Sheriffs work camp. There went summer vacation. Frank got a year since he was over 18. He went into the Army so they dropped his year. But, at the time, it was now Brian’s turn to be sentenced. His Attorney gives a nice little speech. Brian ends up with the same as me. Three months. Brain shouts out to his mother standing just behind him, “This is BULLSHIT!” The judge says, “Right you are son. Six months. Want to try for more?” Boy Brian, that attorney paid off.
I’m taking some cycles to a friend in Lancaster. Ford Canutt cruises by my place in Sleepy Valley, sees I’m having trouble loading the bikes. He gives me a hand then decides to cruise out to our mutual friend’s with me. A mutual friend who later was busted with a bag full of guns at emergency and a bullet hole in his leg. Sorry, no names, remember.
So, half way to our destination, the straps tying down the cycles come loose in the bed of my Crew Cab Power Wagon. It has a flat bed with one-ton shocks and a 16-foot lumber rack welded to the frame. I still drive it every ten years or so. It has stolen Oregon plates so it’s not a good idea to cruise too far in it. The last time I drove it was to Stan Lee’s house in Hollywood to do an emergency phone repair for him. He signed everything my kids put in front of him.
Back to the loose cycles. Ford was just back from some tours as a tank man in ‘Nam, so he liked to party. He was also called Danny, so, I might put that name in and confuse you. Well, Ford tells me to steer the wheel then CLIMBS OUT MY DRIVER WINDOW DOING EIGHTY! I steer with my left hand and try to stay calm. Still sitting in the shot gun seat since I had the ice chest between us. Over the lumber rack he goes. He ties down the cycles, waves and talks with two babes laughing and yelling at him from the fast lane next to us, then he’s back in the window for a fresh cold one.
I end up married to one of his sisters and have three kids with her before the wheels came off. His mom just passed away. I do have a funny story about Bernice. This was while we still had a truce going. I was wild to see Joe Frazier fight Jerry Quarry. I had tickets and was going to bet heavy on Quarry to win. I was using the Beaver Run phone to make my bets. Bernice clucks her tongue and says I had just thrown good money away. She adds, “Quarry won’t last five rounds with Frazier!” I then bet her a hundred bucks at two to one to shut her up. Oh man, she was dead right. I never did pay her that dough, so, sorry Bernice. Hope your in a good place.
Since we’re on a Canutt role, I can’t let Forrest Canutt slide. That guy stuck it to me so many times I lost count. He was one of those guys you like but can never trust. He almost got me killed a half dozen times and I still hung out with him so the fault was all mine I guess. We did have some good laughs in between the screaming roller coaster rides to hell fiascos, so it was worth it.
Here’s the kind of stuff I mean: There’s a big earthquake and all the store fronts up and down San Fernando Road in Newhall are shattered. Walking down the street as it just happened what does Forrest do? He rolls a brand new ten speed out of a now wide-open bike store window and rides for home. He’s busted in two blocks for looting during an emergency. We’re off Vasquez Canyon Road stealing water melons from the pumpkin ranch. We jump in Forrest’s truck to make a clean get away as a half dozen farm workers are running towards us. Forrest can’t find his keys. He takes off as I’m dragged down and held for the cops. As they drag me to the fruit stand register across the road, Forrest fires up his truck and leaves me. Forrest starts hanging with a bad crowd. He robs a gas station and his accomplice hits the clerk over the head with a pistol. A kid I had once been on Hart Wresting Team with in 1967. Our heavyweight, to be exact. Forrest is on the lam in Northern California cutting trees and staying low. He decides to come home for Christmas. Near Mike’s Tires on Soledad Canyon, his old pick up gets a flat. He takes the tire off the truck and rolls it to Mike’s to get it fixed. Who turns around at the counter to help him? Why, the heavyweight guy he had robbed at the gas station with a new job. Forrest took some good shots before the cops came. I saw the dents his head put in the Coke Machine weeks later when I was getting some tires.
Forrest and I went to lots of live concerts. I saw Hendrix with him twice. Once in Frisco and once at the Palm Desert blowout where the cops had two hundred of us locked up in the high school gyms for two days to pick up trash before they let us go. Forrest was the greatest man that ever lived at getting into concerts for free. He would swill down some booze then start yelling at the top of his lungs, “RUSH THE GATE, RUSH THE GATE! WHAT THE FUCK CAN THEY DO!” It worked a lot of times. Never try it at the old Forum in Inglewood, though. Those guys hope you’ll rush them. All USC and UCLA football players wired to the max on steroids and coke keeping them fresh and alert.
Forrest comes by one time with an Alligator. A vehicle from the Army that can drive off of land right into the water and back out again. We had some great times in it. Forrest also would start up my 175 Tempo Cycle by bump starting it backwards and drive with his arms behind him and looking over his shoulder.
Chuck Yost lived up the road from Forrest so we hung out with him on some capers. Notably the Deane Homes affair where we threw a party in one of the model homes and Chuck brought a ton of booze. Everyone was blasted. Not one kid over 18. After Frank Angelostro jumped off the second floor landing to swing on a chandelier and it ripped right out of the ceiling landing on top of his knocked out form, Chuck, Forrest and I started pissing on Frank as he sucked air with the wind knocked out of him from landing on his back. Realizing we we’re dead when his air came back we left our trailer park slut dates and took the Deane Homes show van to Newhall. They always left the keys under the seat. One of my pals was a life guard for the club pool and drove it on beer runs all the time once everyone went home on Sunday.
Once during a Halloween night adventure throwing eggs from the back of speeding pickups from Sunland to Castaic, Willie Schmidt is along with us in Dillenbeck’s truck tossing eggs in the old Woodlands off Sand Canyon. At a cul de sac, Don Winterholm runs out with a single-shot shotgun to chase us off from throwing eggs at his house. This was before he set himself on fire burning ants with a spray paint can. I see the gun and shout, “It doesn’t work, nail the bastard!” I had traded the shotgun to him for a baby red-tailed hawk a week prior. It didn’t have a firing pin, nor a working trigger. As Don races for the front door knowing the jig is up, his mom is holding the screen open with her foot as she keeps the door way wide open for his escape. Before he can slip inside to safety a dozen eggs thrown rapid fire nail the door frame, the porch light, the swing and Don and his mom at the same time. AWESOME! Until, a few months later, I see that Don’s mom is the court reporter in Newhall for the throwing oranges from a moving train incident court appearance. Then it wasn’t so great.
Later on that night, Willie knocked down old man Booth who had me in a headlock on his front lawn, holding me for the cops, after an epic egging of his house ending with Dillenbeck’s truck stalling out. Booth walked like a weird spider on his arms and legs back to his house so Willie couldn’t hit him again.
Well, got to run. I could go on for days.
Hold on, proof reading I just remembered Rivers End. It’s still full of drunks, junkies and eighty-year old hookers. Never steal their false teeth. They never forget. The park’s source of fresh water was the stream water from the Soledad wash. They collected it in a stone pool that was about twenty-foot long and six-foot wide, maybe six-foot deep. Nice and cool in the summer. The railroads emergency hoist ran over your head about seventy foot off the ground to get you off a stuck train during a flood. We rode in it all the time after shooting the lock off. After it was abandoned, my oldest boy Tejas went hand over hand to the cart that was stuck in the middle of the wash way up in the air. He gets his finger pinned under the cart wheel and the cable. Oh man did he let out some blood curdling screams. He finally gets loose and drops like a phoney sack person in a silent movie to the wash below. Oh, back to the water source. The manager catches us swimming around nude in it one day. He’s screaming for us to, “GET OUT, GET OUT, GET OUT!” This nutcase kid, Lyslie Shecocks, tells the man to, “Hold on a second, I’m almost done!” A big turd floats up behind him. The man’s head almost blows off like in ‘Scanners’. We run to our dirt bikes and get away…