Eve of Destruction Circa 2000: Where the Newbies Shop with Five Days Left

“I just moved to this new area.  I got a good deal for a new house.  But I don’t know where the best restaurants or shops are.  It’s called Steve… something.  Can you believe it?  I just moved there and I can’t even remember the name of the city.” Actual conversation recorded for quality assurance.

One of our patients that used to drive from West Los Angeles to our practice in Burbank had flip-flopped his drive.  Had I still been living in West LA myself I would have been just as clueless about where he had set up his new abode.  But, lucky SCV resident that I am, I could help him out.  The name of his new city was none other than Stevenson Ranch.

After settling that I felt compelled to give him a comprehensive list of restaurants, sporting good stores, coffeehouses, hardware stores, parks, malls and shopping centers.  Never do I think that I’ve earned my good neighbor badge until I get my hands on a “newbie”.  I’m almost waiting for their complaint that they can’t find a particular item so that I can digitally scan the rolodex in my teeny brain to match them with just the right apothecary, city hall extension or donut hole baker.  I feel like an ad in the

SCV yellow pages. Or at the very least a wee power behind Gail Ortiz, Marlee Lauffer,  Connie Worden-Roberts and Jo Ann Darcy, the real bigwigs that promote our little valley every day.

When Ed and I moved here some fifteen odd years ago we longed for more places to shop and eat.  We spent our weekends driving to and from the San Fernando Valley.
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  We had to have sushi, go out with our friends, and the worst of it: to Christmas shop.  Santa Clarita back then boasted a K-mart and a few non-chain discount clothing stores.  Or at least that’s all our in-experienced eyes could see.  We were newbies ourselves, hadn’t become Signal subscribers yet and didn’t know a single name on our new city council.

When Mervyns opened up a few years later we were thrilled but not enough to feel confident getting everyone on our Christmas list something in a Mervyns cardboard box.  Target and the rest of that center soon followed but we were promised something more…something unheard of in our valley…we were promised an indoor…MALL.  That’s when we realized that there were powers, like a city council, that had our interests in mind.

We didn’t care that it was only going to be one story.  We knew a mall would include a food court!  A department store or two!  A shorter line to sit on Santa’s lap!  No more evenings spent feeling unsafe shopping over the hill.  No more long drives home in the dark.  No more Mervyns boxes!  (Mervyn, please don’t take away my charge card-you’ll always be a fave.)

We took walks over to the proposed site examining the freshly bulldozed pads imagining what treats were in store for us.  Even though we knew nothing about a future Town Center Drive we were dizzy thinking of the whole new crop of specialty stores and restaurants to peruse!

Now just a few days ago The Mighty Signal ran a column about the very first city council meeting thirteen years ago.  Not only did the forefathers and mothers of our city attend it but they also had snow!  Normally snow in Santa Clarita can be found only in John Boston’s Time Ranger column on Sundays, “On this day in 1920 we had 4 inches of sleet causing the biggest accident on the I-5…a fleet of ducks had to find their own way back to the farm when their driver lost his way.”

I remember that night, and the following day, only because I couldn’t drive anywhere.  So all that snow meant to me thirteen years ago was that I’d never get over the hill to Christmas shop.  And you newbies need to be reminded that we’ve gained quite a bit in the thirteen years that we’ve been a city.  You don’t have to waste any of your precious time driving over the hill like we did.  (When I was your age I walked barefoot, through the snow, to school everyday.  I know how it sounds!)

Let your council members tell you about roads, schools, infrastructure, etc.  That’s their expertise.  Let me tell you how we had to shop.
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  If you weren’t in the market for a new car you had to drive over the hill because the “auto row” was it.  There was no Starbucks, Jamba Juice, or T.G.I. Fridays. There were no theaters with stadium seating, no Clinique counter or Coffee Kiosks.  There were no J Sisters salon, Cosmetic Concepts or Dahbbe make-up studio.  I was a skinny naked-faced chick driving hours in my car-SANS CAR PHONE-searching for a cup of java and a Blockbuster video store!

When things slowly began to change we tried every new restaurant, on the LA county side or not, that opened.  We cherished our luck in having a new supermarket open up five minutes away.  And, right before our very eyes, we found that suddenly, almost overnight, we could shop at home.  It’s funny, now that we have all of these new shops we are drawn to the older ones: Downtown Newhall, The Egg Plantation re-opening, the Way Station, the Signal offices, Video Depot, Lyons car wash and Newhall Hardware.

We were newbies once too, but we’ve learned, as you will, that you appreciate what’s hardest to attain only to feel foolish when what you wanted was right in front of you all along.  (The grass is always greener…)

What to do with the free time we don’t spend in our cars now?  Wrap the presents, trim the tree, decorate the house and drive over to the Metrolink when Jo Ann Darcy is there with Santa sending out real snowflakes.  Snowflakes I could catch in my hand instead of driving somewhere else to see.  Now that’s a snowfall, and a Christmas, of convenience.