WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week, Santa Barbara held its first Bicycle Week. It started with Bicycle Day a couple of years ago. I covered that in the November chapter of Way Back When: Santa Barbara in 1917. This month, we celebrated the first Bicycle Week. There wasn't much news about cycling activities, but there was a cool set of drawings about the evolution of the bicycle in the 1880s – from the "boneshaker" that had one large wheel to the "safety" bicycles that had same-sized wheels. (Image: Santa Barbara Daily News & Independent, May 7, 1919)
Way Back When in Santa Barbara & Mesa Memories
WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week in Santa Barbara, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., an actor who is most famous for portraying Robin Hood and Zorro, was filming Mr. and Mrs. William Gibbs McAdoo for a pictorial news weekly film in Montecito this month. McAdoo had recently retired from his position as U.S. Secretary of Treasury and was renting a home in Montecito. (Image: Photoplay, July 1919)
WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week in Santa Barbara, Goldwyn Studio was filming here. Santa Barbara's "Flying A" was not the only studio that made movies here. A number of Hollywood studios also used locations in our area for their films. This month, a film crew from Goldwyn Studio that was filming "Lord and Lady Algy" was shooting exterior scenes in Santa Barbara and Montecito. According to the local paper, "The exteriors being taken here will represent English scenes." (Image: Motion Picture News, September 20, 1919)
WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week in Santa Barbara, the Nature Study Club Had a dream outing touring one of the big estates in Montecito – "El Mirador," owned by Lolita Armour. "The place is being converted into a veritable paradise. There are exceptional viewpoints, and a trip through the canyon was most interesting."
While doing research about silent movies filmed in Montecito, I recently discovered that "El Mirador" had served as the location for some of the scenes of the "Flying A" movie titled "The Envoy Extraordinary" that was released in 1914. The film was supposed to take place in Europe. (Image: Library of Congress)
WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week in Santa Barbara, tempers were flaring over this feathered beauty, the Cedar Waxwing. "The cedar bird is of undeniable beauty and interest to bird lovers everywhere," one person told the local paper and another added, "The cedar bird is pretty."
However, one article quoted an orchard owner who said that the bird, also nicknamed "the cherry bird" because of its fondness for fruit, destroyed cherries and cherry blossoms on his trees.
Writing in defense of the bird was William Leon Dawson, the founder of the egg museum that morphed into today's Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. He suggested that it was not the Cedar Waxwings that caused the damage to blossoms. He blamed the Purple Finch. "I predict that when such an investigation is made, the Cedar Waxwing will be held not to be guilty as charged." (Image: New York Public Library)
WAY BACK WHEN WEDNESDAY - 100 years ago this week in Santa Barbara, the local paper announced that the city now had its first airport, which it called a "public aerial landing station." The location was on the grounds of the Belvedere Hotel, which had formerly been the Potter Hotel.
The local paper predicted, "Aviation, not merely for commercial, but for pastime purposes, is expected to become popular in the near future … it should not be long before people will be having their pleasure planes like they have their pleasure cars."
100 years ago this week in Santa Barbara, the local "Flying A" movie studio released a feature film called "Put Up Your Hands." The studio's glamor girl Margarita Fisher plays a young woman who decides to add a little pizazz to her aunt's society tea party by dressing in her undies and staging a boxing match between herself and well-known boxer Joe "Bull" Montana.
"Motion Picture News" magazine commented about the star's skimpy attire, "In some of the situations, the star appears dressed as an athlete, wearing only B.V.D.s. While broadminded people may think nothing wrong of it, some would-be reformers might be 'shocked.' In such case, you can trim down the scenes, thus sparing the feelings of such objectors." (Image: Moving Picture World, March 15, 1919)
100 years ago this week in Santa Barbara, there was an article in the local newspaper about a Santa Barbara nurse who was working with the Red Cross in Italy. Although World War I had ended the previous November, there was still a need for nurses to help the war-torn populations. Rose Gandolfo of Santa Barbara wrote back home that she intended to stay as long as she was needed.
Amazingly, when I Googled her name, I found some photos in the Library of Congress photo collection of Gandolfo when she was in Italy in 1918! (Image: Library of Congress)
100 years ago this week in Santa Barbara, there was a long article in the paper about a local man who had just been awarded the distinguished service cross. Albert F. Neil was cited "for acts of extraordinary heroism." In September, 1918, the tank he was riding in had been hit by a German shell. He and another soldier removed the tank's machine guns and used them against the Germans. The two men then used rifles and grenades to successfully attack the enemy trenches. Neil was a member of the Grizzlies, a group of volunteers from California. (Image: Wikimedia)
100 years ago this week, the Carpinteria Valley News published a sci-fi story written by a local boy named Linn Unkefer. "Though but 15 years old," the paper wrote, "Linn shows a wonderful fertility of imagination. The story is well worth reading." His story, A Trip to the Moon, told of a voyage to the moon in 1958 in an airplane with 700-horsepower motors. He was only off by 11 years.
Unkefer later worked in the publicity departments of Hollywood film studios such as RKO. And he got his start in little beach community of Carpinteria.