Our Hometown Stories: The Unmasking Of Mr. SCV
While perusing our local paper, I saw a paragraph in John Boston's column on a charity event that my husband Ron and I had attended. I was scanning through and saw Ron's name mentioned. "How wonderful," I thought and then did a double take.... I believe the quote right there in black and white was:
"Ronald Butt Ugly Hawaiian Shirt Singer"
What! Are you kidding me?
From that moment on, I had a mission. Who was this fashionista John Boston and what exactly did he have against Hawaiian shirts.
After all, I was the one who had chosen that shirt....
After diligent searching, I tracked John Boston down at the Karen Carpenter Fan Club Weekend in Petaluma. "How strange," I thought. John has always ribbed the KHTS AM-1220 program director about his dull, lackluster, fall asleep at your desk music choices. Who knew he was a closet Carpenter fan?
When our face to face finally arrived, we sat across from each other at a laminated table in Denny's. He told me his story. It is a tale worth re-telling.
Walter Cieplik Jr. aka John Boston aka Mr. SCV is quite a character. He sounds like Will Rogers and bears a striking resemblance to the valley icon, William S. Hart. He has lived in this valley that he loves for over 50 years.
He grew up with his father, Walter Sr., who like John, has a case of wanderlust.
"In the 1950's," John recalled, "I lived in the hotel above the Newhall Pharmacy on San Fernando Road."
John attended Newhall Elementary School for a short time and is a proud graduate of Hart High School, Class of 1968. A year later, he went on to become the sophomore basketball coach for his old alma mater. Laughing, John reminisced,
"I have the distinction of being the first coach to ever lose any game in any sport to Canyon High School."
In the 1970's, Walter Cieplik Jr. legally changed his name to John Boston. It was during this period that he began his long running, on again off again relationship with our local paper, The Signal, or as he refers to it today, "The Occupation Newspaper". While pondering job security, he had an epiphany and gave himself the moniker "Mr. SCV".
"With a name like that, there is no way they will ever fire me," he thought.
How wrong he was; he has been fired from The Signal no less than five times!
It was during his foray as "Escape" editor at The Signal that John became the historical maven of the Santa Clarita Valley. It was serendipity. The 1980's were here and he needed filler for the Friday Escape columns that he was writing and editing. John happened upon the paper's archives, and as they say, "the rest is history"...
Enthralled, he began writing historical anecdotes about our valley under the pseudonym of Commander William Viola Plantagenet. That small filler eventually took on a life of its own and became the weekly "Time Ranger" series.
Twenty years ago, when the local historian and teacher Jerry Reynolds died, Golden Oak Adult School approached John to teach their "History of Santa Clarita" class.
"I had only one month to prepare," he admitted.
The program has grown and evolved over the years to include weekly field trips, invaluable information and great trivia. After 20 years and countless students, John is wrapping up his "absolute final session."
"It is the right time," he says.
In 2003, a new chapter opened for John with the birth of his first child, the lovely Indiana Boston. John smiled,
"From the moment she was born, she has been the best friend that I always had, that I just met."
Father and daughter share a unique passion for the sport of fencing. It is not unusual to find them running around the house wielding swords as they recreate scenes from their favorite pirate movies! When the weather is good, Indiana plays queen of the mountain as she toboggans down their back hill in an empty plastic dish tray!
Besides Indy, John shares his ponderosa, "The Scared o' Bears Ranch" in Canyon Country, with his 86 year-old father Walt Sr.. John's stories of life with dad seem more like classic sitcom adventures. He recalls that as a young man, he was painstakingly restoring his Alpha Romeo automobile. He spent a year taking it apart and sanding it down, until it was ready to be painted. He came home one afternoon, and his dad proudly told him that he had painted the racecar.
"Yep," John said, "he painted it with a paint brush and orange house paint."
The restoration started all over again.
John has retained employment throughout his adult life so that he could fund his real love; writing novels. "Naked Came the Sasquatch" is the clever title of John Boston's book that was published in 1993. This story took almost 10 years to write. When I asked him why so long, he replied.
"Life happens and when it does, you sometimes have to put the pen down."
"Naked Came the Sasquatch" is a macabre, funny, charming, yet disturbing story of a small town newspaperman and a monster that could be a maniac... This gem of a book has a five-star rating on Amazon.com and was required reading at Harvard!
John's newest hot-off-the-presses book, "Images of America: The Santa Clarita Valley" will be released this month. When you read through it, you will be amazed at the vast amount of history and photographs that beautifully document this valley that we call home. If you would like to purchase a book and get up close and personal with Mr. SCV, he will be at The Cowboy Festival on April 25th and 26th from 1:30 to 4:30 pm. He would be delighted to sign your book and shoot the breeze.
If you are unable to attend the Festival, you can call (661) 373-1293 or log on to thebostonreport.net to order a copy of his book.
For the John Boston fans who cannot get enough of his written word, tune in to KHTS AM-1220 on Monday afternoons between 2 and 3p.m. You will be laughing out loud during his "Former Friends of John Boston" show. A rollicking good time if he does say so himself.
While our time together was coming to an end, I asked John what he enjoys doing during his rare moments of down time. Without hesitation he said;
"Traveling roads not taken. I love to get in my car alone in the middle of the night and just drive where the highways and back roads take me."
Well, it was certainly a lucky thing for us that the roads and highways that beckoned to John Boston are those that led directly into the Santa Clarita Valley.