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Way Back When in Santa Barbara & Mesa Memories

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

     Boy, did this Santa Barbara fisherman have something to brag about in August 1919! Imagine landing a 1,500-pound fish! The man "harpooned a fish as big as the side of an automobile in the waters of the Channel near Hope Ranch." He must have been looking for big fish because he had a harpoon with him, and used it to spear the fish. "An exciting ride of some distance, with the maddened sunfish acting as the motive power, followed … the big fellow [the fish, that is] was on exhibition at the wharf … he [the fish, again] is valueless for human consumption." 

     I talked to Dr. Milton Love, Research Biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, author of Certainly More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast to get his take on this gigantic fish tale. He speculated that it was a Mola mola. "They can get very, very large," he told me. This was similar to the rare Mola tecta that washed up on the beach near Coal Oil Point in February, 2019. (Image: A Guide to the Study of Fishes, by David Starr Jordan, 1905)

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

Cliff Drive's Other Names – Ever wonder why "Cliff Drive" has that name even though it is nowhere near the cliffs? The name originated on the section of the road that runs west of Arroyo Burro Beach (Hendry's Beach, Henry's Beach) where it does run along the cliff. The portion of Cliff Drive on the Mesa was originally called "The Mesa Road" and began on the west side of Santa Barbara and ended about where Monroe Elementary School is located today.
     The Pacific Improvement Company, the owner of what is now called Hope Ranch, wanted an easier way for prospective property buyers to reach their property. The only way of reaching the property was the long route along State Street - quite a lengthy trip before the highway was built. The Mesa Road was pretty primitive, however. Here's a description of the road in 1902 – "There is not room for two vehicles to pass without getting into great ditches washed by the winter rain, or in deep chuch holes [potholes] which are left to be worn deeper and larger as the seasons come and go. That portion of the road is a disgrace to the city."
     The road through the Mesa was finally upgraded in 1903, and there were a number of names proposed for the new and improved route, but in the end, the powers-that-be stated that they "could not find a better name than Cliff Drive." (Image: Wikimedia)

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

Did you read about me in the New York Times this morning? Well, okay the paper didn't exactly mention me by name, but I just KNOW they were thinking of me. The Times gave recommendations for things to see and do in Santa Barbara and contained this SECRETLY CODED MESSAGE to buy my books.

 

"Then, head to Chaucer's Books, an independent bookstore so charming it warranted a love letter (in essay form) from the writer Pico Iyer. PICK UP A BEACH READ, A BOOK ON LOCAL HISTORY, or let the kids loose in the store's children's corner, which feels like a literary wonderland for little people." (Confession - I added the ALL CAPS.)

 

Here's the link to the article. Tell me what you think. Am I right?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/15/travel/what-to-do-36-hours-in-santa-barbara-county.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage

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

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - The Great Pacific Fleet Arrives!

It was definitely the biggest event of 1919 in Santa Barbara – 42 ships carrying 500 officers and 10,000 men anchored in the Channel this August and stayed here for five days. Each day, 1,500 sailors came ashore for some R&R.

Rarely had so many ships been seen in the Channel. The local paper wrote, "From early morning until late at night … the beachfront has been crowded with spectators fascinated with the picture of the men o' war and their speedy destroyer escorts stretching out in the Channel in an awesome line of steel. In addition, the passenger launches have carried many thousands of people to the various ships, where courteous officers and sailors have conducted them through the vessels."

It was definitely a great time for picture taking! Notice how Kodak was used as a verb a century ago. (Image: Los Angeles Herald, August 11, 1919)

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY - Escondido Neighborhood Park - Great example of neighborhood volunteerism

         This "pocket park" of fewer than six acres is a living monument to the active participation of the residents of the neighborhood in which it sits. In 1955, the Fellowship Heights Improvement Association asked the city to allow a portion of the Escondido Reservoir property to be used as a park with a play area for local youngsters. The word "escondido" means "hidden" in Spanish.

         Most of the money for the original playground equipment was funded by neighbors who held rummage sales and barbeques. About 15 years ago, an anonymous contribution to the Santa Barbara County Land Trust allowed the Park District to renovate the slope and put in native plants. (Photo: Betsy J. Green)

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

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - Several prominent Hollywood personalities were seen in and around Santa Barbara in August 1919. One big-time film star who made an appearance here probably wished he had stayed back in Tinsel Town. John Barrymore, who had been visiting Santa Cruz Island, was pulled over for speeding. "John Barrymore, well-known American actor, and temporary visitor in Santa Barbara, was halted in his joyous flight out on East Haley Street yesterday afternoon. Traffic Officer Williams was stern in his decision that Mr. Barrymore was pushing a bit heavy on the throttle of his machine." Barrymore was fined $10.

This is probably how actor John Barrymore looked when one of Santa Barbara's finest nailed him for speeding. (Image: "Motion Picture News," April 19, 1919)

 

Note - All the "Way Back When" Wednesday items will be part of the 200+ items in the book  "Way Back When: Santa Barbara in 1919" to be published in November 2019. This will be the sixth book in the "Way Back When" series.

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY - Hilda McIntyre Ray Neighborhood Park - the smallest developed park on the Mesa
This is one of the smaller city parks in Santa Barbara (only 1.5 acres in size), and is the smallest developed park on the Mesa. The park was donated to the city by Hilda Ray's husband, Prescott, after her death in 1957.
Hilda, a retired teacher who taught at several area schools including Laguna Blanca, drowned while walking near the Thousand Steps. Her husband lived at the park until 1961. It's a great place for picnics and has a nice view. (Photo: Betsy J. Green)

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