instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Way Back When in Santa Barbara & Mesa Memories

"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

MESA MEMORIES MONDAY - Arroyo Burro Beach Park History

         This is the only county park on the Mesa. Its official name has been Arroyo Burro Beach since 1949, but many Mesa residents still call it "Hendry's Beach." And longtime Mesa residents used to call it "Henry's Beach" or simply "the pit." A pair of young Scottish immigrants — William and Ann Hendry — arrived here in the early 1870s, and had a ranch near the beach. It's not known if their ranch was a financial success, but the union of William and Ann certainly was — they had 12 children (nine boys and three girls). William died in 1924, and Ann died in 1940.

         Much of the area now covered by the two parking lots was originally wetlands that were filled in during the 1940s and 1950s. Although some people believe that there was a Chumash village on this site, a 1989 archaeological survey found only a few artifacts.

         Residents of the Mesa in the 1950s recall a simple shack here that served food to hungry surfers. During summer vacations, it was a place where your mom would drop you off in the morning, and pick you up on her way home from work. The shack eventually burned down. For many years, the Brown Pelican restaurant served hungry beachgoers. Today the Boathouse restaurant occupies the site. (Image: Wikimedia)

Be the first to comment

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week

WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week, the Goldwyn Studio was filming at a Montecito estate. Most Santa Barbara folks were pretty much used to seeing "Flying A" film crews working in our area, but it must have caused quite a stir when a director, along with actors, actresses, and film crew spent six days filming here. The Goldwyn people were in Montecito getting exterior scenes for "Bonds of Love," which is supposed to take place on Long Island.

This is one of about 55 movies filmed in Montecito that I discovered while working on a book about silent movies made in Montecito. (Image: Motion Picture News, August 23, 1919)

Be the first to comment

MESA MEMORIES MONDAY - 6-17-2019

MESA MEMORIES MONDAY - Douglas Family Preserve, Part 2
     Today almost no one remembers Medzikhovsky, the Russian with his carefully waxed moustache and military bearing, but longtime Mesa residents remember the Wilcox nursery property (1949-1972) as an area of fields where cows grazed during the day, and teenagers held parties at night.
     From 1972 until 1996, there was a 25-year-long tug-of-war between developers who proposed several different projects for the land, and Santa Barbara residents who wanted to preserve "the last wild piece of coast in Santa Barbara." Finally, in January, 1996, preservation groups were given a deadline of just six weeks in which to raise $3.5 million to save the open land. Former Mesa resident, Susan Belloni, ad hoc coordinator for the Friends of the Douglas Family Preserve, said, "We had backyard English tea fundraisers, jog-a-thons, art sales, music fundraisers, butterfly tours, we handed out pledge cards at Las Positas and Cliff Drive during rush hour, sold red tropical flowers there, too, for Valentine's Day; children sold $10 glasses of juice, a huge banner went up on the freeway overpass with a pledge phone number to call, there were penny jars at stores all over town, and I even remember counting some of them at Sue and Jim Higman's, who were the real backbone of SWAP [Small Wilderness Area Preserve] and without whom, perhaps none of it would have happened. It was a huge Santa Barbara community effort and it succeeded."
     In the end, the preservationists won by sheer persistence, and a public who supported them with pennies, dollars, and a large check from actor Michael Douglas. The park became an off-leash area for dogs in 2004. (Image: Betsy J. Green)

Be the first to comment

MESA MEMORIES MONDAY

MESA MEMORIES MONDAY - Douglas Family Preserve - The park that was almost home to Russian royalty
This Santa Barbara City park, with its dramatic vistas, has been eyed by developers at least as far back as 1919 when a high-ranking member of the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. bought this almost 60-acre site. "Slav Nobility to Live Here . . . Members of Royal Family May Join Unique Colony" ran the headline in the Los Angeles Times on April 16, 1919. In addition to Santa Barbara's salubrious climate, the Russian aristocrats were hoping that the United States would be safe from revolutions such as the 1917 uprising in their country.
The Santa Barbara newspaper, The Daily News and The Independent wrote that "an attractive oak grove beautifies the Russian embassy lands and there are numerous fine building sites on the property." The Russian aristocrats apparently settled elsewhere, but Count Constantin J. Medzikhovsky (see photo), the commercial attaché who bought the property, lived there on what was called Medcliff Ranch, for 13 years until his death in 1932. He and his American wife Countess Bessie lived in the big yellow house at 2601 Mesa School Lane. She died in 1958. (Image: Library of Congress)

Be the first to comment

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week

WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week, an X-rated movie was shown in Santa Barbara. The title of this movie – "Fit to Win" – sounds harmless enough, but it turned out to be one of the most censored and forbidden films of the silent era. No one under 15 was admitted to see it here, there was a special matinee showing for "Ladies Only," and during the evening showings, men had to sit in the balcony. Yowza! (By the way, movies were not rated in 1919, so they didn't use the term "X-rated" yet.)
Take a look at some of the descriptions of the film in the large ad that was in the local paper:
"A Startling Message of Timely Warning to the Youth Who 'Sows His Wild Oats' and to the Mature Man Who Transgresses the Laws of Sex."
"Mothers and wives! Your sons and husbands are in danger … the picture tells and shows the results of 'sporting.' Physical and moral excess leads to destruction. See the smashing drama of five young men who found the dark street and the red lantern." (Image: Motion Picture News, April 5, 1919)

Be the first to comment

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week

WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week, women in California had been able to vote in local elections since 1911, but nationwide, women were still working toward universal suffrage. This cartoon appeared in the "Santa Barbara Daily News & Independent" on June 3, 1919.

Be the first to comment

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week

WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week, Santa Barbara had one of the largest Memorial Day Parades it had ever had. The Great War was over, and the soldiers (most of them) were home again. The oldest veterans headed the parade. The local paper wrote, "Noble old veterans of the Civil War rode down State Street … The 'Old Boys in Blue' occupied [automobiles]. Their sturdy faces still hold suggestion of the days of old, when, in their youth, like these striplings in khaki, they went forth to battle for their native land and the Union."

Next came the veterans of the war in Europe. "They stepped with the exactness of machines, erect, quick, eager, and none who looked on from the sidewalk but felt the surging of pride for the youngsters who whipped the trained armies of the Kaiser."

There were also ceremonies at the Santa Barbara Cemetery for those who would never return. And out in the harbor, flowers were thrown onto the water from boats. "The pretty ceremony could be witnessed by the thousands from the beach. A volley was fired by the Sixth Division in concluding the services." (Image: Wikimedia)

 

Be the first to comment

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week

WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week, mail was being delivered to the Channel Islands from Santa Barbara, not by air mail, but by pigeon mail. "Carrier pigeons as a means of communication between the Channel Islands and the mainland will soon become common, as large numbers of birds are now being trained for that purpose. At present, the only means of communication is by boat … Captain Ira Eaton has a flock of 40 or 50 pigeons at his camp on Santa Cruz Island … It is expected that they will make the 30-mile trip across the Channel easily within half an hour." There was no phone or telegraph service to the northern Channel Islands yet.
Pigeons delivering mail to and from the Channel Islands had been used off and on from the 1800s through the 1940s, according to Islapedia.com. Pigeon mail is also covered in the July chapter of "Way Back When: Santa Barbara in 1915." (Image: New York Public Library)

Be the first to comment

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week

WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week, the "Flying A" film studio in Santa Barbara released a movie titled "Some Liar." Handsome hunk Bill Russell plays a fast-talking happy-go-lucky salesman who sells coffins. Huh? Well, if a movie studio were looking for a story that hadn't been done a million times before, this might have some appeal in the novelty department. Russell's main sales gimmick seems to be telling tall tales.

Of course, a young lady is involved, and the bigger the lies he tells, the more she likes him. Go figure! He gets tangled up in some of his fabrications, but somehow manages to manufacture a genuine romance.

"The plot in this production is improbable enough from any angle you want to consider it, but that does not keep it from supplying the structure for a first-rate comedy entertainment working up to some situations which may properly be termed novel." – "The Film Daily," May 11, 1919

(Image: Motion Picture News, May 24, 1919)

Be the first to comment

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week

WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week, the local paper in Santa Barbara ran this headline: "Write to Your Mother!" May is the month for Mother's Day, and this year the paper reminded its readers that all mothers of soldiers had made a sacrifice. Some made the ultimate sacrifice. In Santa Barbara County nearly 70 mothers would not see their sons grow old. It was time to thank mothers for their contribution to winning the war.

"At all army camps and posts, and aboard all ships of the navy and transports, the war and navy departments have instructed officers and men, that it is the wish of the government that the mothers of the country receive recognition of the great part they have played in the winning of the war. All commanding officers will bring to the attention of every officer and soldier, the desire of the Secretary of War that each officer and soldier write a letter home on Mother's Day … in recognition of the wonderful part the mothers of America played in making the world safe for democracy." (Image: Library of Congress)

Be the first to comment