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Way Back When in Santa Barbara & Mesa Memories

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

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - 100 YEARS AGO THIS MONTH:
It was announced this month that the Santa Barbara dog show would be held in early August, 1919. The organizers told the local paper that "perhaps for the first time in the history of dog shows, common, ordinary hounds are going to be permitted to show alongside of canine aristocracy … Mongrels, houn'-dawgs, curs – in fact, any animal related to the genus canine – will be eligible in this competition, when entered by a juvenile … Verily, the day of dog equality seems to be drawing nearer." (Image: New York Public Library)

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

MESA MEMORIES MONDAY - Honda Valley Park History
The west end of Miramonte Drive was built in the late 1950s, but it was originally called Hoffman Drive because of a research company next to the television station. In 1970, the Santa Barbara Highlands Company, which built the large condo complex on Highland and Miramonte, donated 20 acres to the city to be used as a park. Three years later, Marie J. Thornbury, wife of a real estate developer William Thornbury, donated an adjacent parcel of 28 acres.
The park gained a brief notoriety in 1992 when nearby residents suspected that a thief lived in the park and was stealing shoes and newspapers that were left outdoors. The "thief" turned out to be a fox with acquisitive habits. (Image: Betsy J. Green)

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

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - 100 YEARS AGO THIS MONTH: The Lockheed (Loughead) brothers were busy piloting passengers around the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel. Their plane, the F-1, was said to be the largest passenger-carrying seaplane in the United States. "It is equipped with upholstered seats similar to those in an automobile. Passengers declared it to be in every way comfortable," wrote the local paper.

One of their oldest passengers was an 82-year-old woman who told the local paper that her trip aloft was "just heavenly … I'm only sorry that this form of transportation is being perfected so late in my life, because I won't have many more chances to go up in the air. The young folks of today certainly have a wonderful age ahead of them."
(Image - Santa Barbara Morning Press, March 28, 1918)

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY - La Mesa Park History
The history of this city park goes back to 1856 when the United States government purchased 28 acres, and built a lighthouse. Some of the grounds around the lighthouse were used by the lighthouse keepers and their family as vegetable gardens in this (then) remote location. (Shoreline Drive would not be built for almost 100 years, and Meigs Road did not connect to Carrillo Street, so it was a long round-about trip into town.) The original lighthouse was destroyed in the 1925 earthquake, and another was later built. The lighthouse was accessed by a road leading down from Cliff Drive. People who lived on the Mesa in the 1960s remember when Meigs Road only went as far south as Elise Way, the road on the south side of the Mesa Village Shops.
In the 1950s, the city acquired 6.8 acres to be used for the park, and 8.2 more acres became the site of Washington School. La Mesa Park was formally dedicated in 1957. Older residents remember going to the summer camp that was held at the park, or swinging over the creek on ropes that hung from the large trees. (Photo: Betsy J. Green)

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

"WAY BACK WHEN" WEDNESDAY - 100 YEARS AGO THIS MONTH: The Astra Films folks were filming a feature-length movie on the George Owen Knapp's "Arcady" estate in Montecito in July 1919. The movie was called "Our Better Selves."
According to one reviewer, "The story is of a wealthy Parisian beauty who basks in an atmosphere of luxury and romance ... and a young American aristocrat, an aimless drifter and idler. These two have met and loved – she rich and he almost penniless. Then comes the time when his better self prevails and he goes forth to play a man's part in the world of men." – "The Gazette" (Montreal, Canada), August 12, 1919.
(Image: Exhibitors Herald, August 16, 1919)
(I found this item when I was researching my book about silent movies made in Montecito.)

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

MESA MEMORIES MONDAY - Vertical Parks History

         Two unusual city parks provide beach access on the Mesa – Mesa Lane Steps and Thousand Steps. Mesa Lane Steps, at the south end of Mesa Lane, were built in the early 1980s on the site of an informal trail to the beach that local surfers had used for decades. Originally built of wood, the steps have been upgraded and repaired several times. (Photo of Mesa Lane Steps by Betsy J. Green)

         Thousand Steps, at the south end of Santa Cruz Boulevard, were first built in 1923, making them one of the earliest parks on the Mesa. They have also been rebuilt several times.

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LITTLE FREE LIBRARY - UPDATE

TREASURE HUNT UPDATE – Well, it's been 24+ hours since I placed a copy of my "Way Back When: Santa Barbara in 1918" in a Little Free Library. I checked the little library, and my book is gone, so someone got lucky. I had hoped to receive a photo of the lucky person who found the treasure (my book), as other treasure finders have done. Oh well. I hope whoever it was enjoys the book. I certainly had fun writing it. And I'm not discouraged. I'll play the Treasure Hunt game again some time, and keep you posted.

(Some people have asked about the location. This Little Free Library is in front of TVSB at 329 South Salinas Street.)

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