Oh I’m packin’ my grip and I’m leavin’ today,
’cause I’m taking a trip California way
I’m gonna settle down and never more roam,
and make the San Fernando Valley my home.
I’ll forget my sins, I’ll be makin’ new friends,
where the West begins and the sunset ends.
Cause I’ve decided where yours truly should be
and it’s the San Fernando Valley for me.
So sang Roy Rogers in the 1943 Western San Fernando Valley. The song, sharing its name with the movie and written by Gordon Jenkins, became a hit the next year when it was recorded by Bing Crosby. Small wonder: GIs were preparing to land at Normandy, and Marines, at Saipan. The song evoked the kind of images a war-weary nation dreamed of, and no one could bring emotions to lyrics better than Crosby. It may have helped that, in those days, Crosby lived in the Valley, as did Bob Hope, Roy Rogers, Walter Brennan, John Wayne, Clark Gable, and Gary Cooper. In the Valley, they could own acres of rural land, stable horses, and ride into the sunset....