Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Andre's Cafe: Matchbook Cover

Forrest Park | Mint Canyon

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Matchbook cover from Andre's Cafe & Cocktail Lounge in the Forrest Park section of Mint Canyon, now considered Canyon Country. The establishment was known as "Andre's Cafe" or simply "Andre's Place" when it opened in 1945; it advertised itself as "Andre's Cocktail Lounge" shortly before it closed in 1961. Either way, it was "where particular people congregate."

Matchbook by Universal Match Corp. of Los Angeles. The slogan just below the manumark, "Made in the West for the West," was used in the 1950s.

"Forest Park 6 Shorts" (a misspelling, or alternate spelling, of Forrest Park) was how one would call the place for a reservation in the days before direct dialing.

About Andre's Cafe and Its Namesake.

Samuel Andre Borgeaud — the future "Duckman of Saugus Rehab" — along with his fourth wife (of five), Yvette, took over a preexisting nightclub at 16619 Sierra Highway, Forrest Park, in 1945 and turned it into Andre's Cafe and Cocktail Lounge. To make reservations, one would phone Forrest Park 6 Shorts. Direct dialing was an invention of the 1960s.

Born on a farm in or near Montreux in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Andre Borgeaud served in the Alpine Regiment of the Swiss Army before coming to the United States via France and Canada. By the time he arrived in Mint Canyon, he had been a cowboy in Texas and a nightclub singer in New York and Los Angeles — "I was standing on Fifth Avenue when Lindbergh returned from flying across the ocean," he remembered in 1975 (The Signal, May 7) — stopping in those places just long enough to meet interesting women. Yvette was a French-speaking entertainer from Montreal.

From the outset, Andre's entertainment industry friends would stop by the diner. Spotted one day in 1946 was the former child actor Jackie Cooper, who "lit into his ham and eggs with much gusto" before traveling on to Lake Hughes for some fishing; as well as the famous playwright Eugene O'Neill, who was hunting for "a retreat where he could complete a novel" (The Signal, July 4, 1946).

Andre and Yvette turned their cafe into a popular meeting spot for the Mint Canyon community, as well. It was here that the Mint Canyon Lions Club came into existence in January 1948. Andre was a charter member. (This was about a decade before the Lions built the Mint Canyon Community Building, which became the Elks Lodge.) In 1949, the Borgeauds enlarged their dining room to accommodate a television set, dancing and banquets. "This enlargement will greatly benefit the Mint Canyon Lions Club as they will now have a banquet hall for Ladies' Night," The Signal reported (January 20). The couple would pull a permit for additional improvements in 1954 (The Signal, May 20).

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In 1949, Andre was unanimously voted into the L.A. County Sheriff's Auxiliary Mounted Posse, Newhall Troop No. 6.

By this time, Andre had developed a reputation as a dog lover, feeding and housing dozens of dogs that tended to be abandoned in canyon. "He says he is mostly interested in seeing that dogs do not get into the hands of vivi­sec­tion­ists," The Signal reported (October 21, 1948) as he circulated petitions for a 1950 ballot measure to outlaw the practice.

Life's next major turn would come a decade later, in 1960, when Andre and Yvette divorced. "I walked away with $10 in my pocket," Andre recalled in 1975 (The Signal, May 7). Apparently so, because the cafe was solely Yvette's property when she sold it in December 1961 to Tom Zuber and Ray Smith. Andre moved into a trailer in the Cordova Mobile Estates, 27361 Sierra Highway.

Next he sold real estate with fellow Mint Canyon resident Jim Schaefer, and he would go back to it in the 1970s, but in July 1967 he took a job as a security guard at the Saugus Rehabilitation Center, aka Saugus Drunk Farm, where the city of Los Angeles sent its incarcerated boozers. (Today it's the Rio Vista Water Treatment Facility above Santa Clarita Central Park.)

L.A. shuttered the facility in June 1967. In July, "to his horror," Andre found "the bodies of ten dead ducks," along with two dozen more "in poor condition to battle for life and room against hundreds of rattlesnakes, coyotes, rabbits, deer, foxes, possums, kangaroo rats, just plain rats as big as cats, and cats that had taken over the nearly deserted buildings and grounds," the inimitable Lionel Rolfe reported in The Signal (September 7, 1967).

It seems that eight years earlier, a well-intentioned police lieutenant had brought some chicks to the place for the recovering alcoholics to care for. Now, abandoned, their descendants were starving to death in a sewer pond. Andre supplied them with 50 pounds of food each week and nursed them back to health.

Eventually returning to real estate, Andre worked with the new owners of the Schaefer Land Company (Ellen Fox and Ethyl Jones), and he was affiliated with Omega Brokers and (Maurice) Ungar Real Estate.

In 1976, Andre made out a holographic will and published it as a legal notice in The Signal (which sort of makes it no longer a holographic will). It sheds some light on his personality. He leaves all his worldly possessions

to the Republic of Switzerland, which has been recognized by world opinion as having the best governmental system in the world, the best schooling, the best culture, the best living condi­tions, the best transportation system, the most respected and the most beautiful country on the face of the earth. To that country I leave everything.

Life, for me, has not always been a bowl of cherries. I have had many ups and downs, but all in my life has been extremely interesting. I have been married five times, each of which were the most delightful ladies in the world. There was Suzane, the beautician from Paris; Evelyn, a hat designer from Paris; Renee Dupont, a society singer from Monte Carlo; Eyvette, an entertainer from Montreal; and a land Baronees from the southland. I will cherish their memories forever. (The Signal, June 4, 1976.)

That's not to take away from his adopted homeland. "I love America," he intoned in a letter to the editor in which he deemed Jimmy Carter to be "the best president this nation has ever had since Franklin D. Roosevelt." The letter was published July 18, 1979, four months prior to the taking of hostages in Iran.

Andre Borgeaud was believed to be 82 (he didn't talk about his age) when he died Tuesday, June 15, 1982, following a brief illness. He was buried in the Garden of Serenity at Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall.

Note: Some news reports refer to Yvette as Andre's third wife, but that doesn't seem to jibe with his last will and testament and his known places of residence.

Click image to enlarge.

LW3639: 9600 dpi jpeg from original matchbook cover purchased 2019 by Leon Worden.
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