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Way Back When in Santa Barbara, Mesa Memories, & Silent Movies Made in Montecito

SILENT MOVIES MADE IN MONTECITO

Image: Dispatch [Moline, Illinois], September 10, 1921

Goldwyn Studios came to Montecito to shoot scenes for All's Fair in Love in 1921. The movie was based on a 1913 Broadway play by the same name.

 

Publicity for the movie claimed that the play had been a success, however a close look at Variety revealed that the play opened in New York in February and closed in March. Hmmm.

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

The first jitneys in 1915 were often Ford Model T cars driven by the car's owner. Image: wikimedia.com

Jitneys & Uber – Been There; Done That

 

We didn't have the app-based taxi company called Uber back in Santa Barbara in 1915, but we did have a similar alternative transport system called the jitney that was just as convenient – and just as controversial.

 

A nickel, nicknamed a "jitney," bought you a ride in a private car – often a Ford Model T touring car – driven by its owner who wanted to use his/her vehicle to make some extra money.

 

Like Uber, which began in San Francisco and spread worldwide, the jitney began in Los Angeles in 1914, and soon expanded to other cities – like Santa Barbara.

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

Image: Betsy J. Green

The Great Wall of the Mesa

 

As you drive down Cliff Drive between Santa Barbara City College and Castillo Street, you pass by the loooong stone wall on the right-hand side. You might have noticed a small plaque on the wall about midway down. Here's the plaque (see photo). The WPA was a federal agency that provided jobs to many unemployed people during the Great Depression.

 

Some of the stones in the wall are remnants of "Punta del Castillo," the mansion built by the Dibblee family that was located where City College is today.

 

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SILENT MOVIES MADE IN MONTECITO

Image: Nacion [Chile], December 9, 1917

In 1915, Santa Barbara's "Flying A" studio produced its hugely popular series The Diamond From the Sky. Portions of the 30-episode series were filmed in Montecito, California and were seen in theaters as far away as Chile, although it apparently took years to reach them.

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

One of Thomas Moran's paintings can be seen on the wall of the Oval Office in 2017. Image: photograph by Pete Souza

Landscape Artist Lands in Santa Barbara in 1917

 

Thomas Moran, was "perhaps the most eminent landscape painter ever known to American art circles," according to the local paper in January 1917. The 80-year-old artist and his daughter settled here for a four-month stay.

 

"Mr. Moran has made his fame in the Rocky Mountain region, especially in the Grand Canyon and the Yellowstone, where he has got the main inspiration in the way of what he calls 'big scenery.'"

 

The Santa Barbara Mission was among the local scenes he painted here. One of his works, "The Three Tetons," was hung in the Oval Office at the White House.

 

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

(Brig image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The Mesa's Only Shipwreck - Part 2

 

After the "Pride of the Sea" was wrecked on the shore of the Mesa in 1864, Captain Joseph S. Garcia continued his sailing career for four more years, and retired from the sea in 1868. He bought a vineyard and wrote about the amazing story of his life. In 1874, he settled near Cucamonga. He died at the age of 79 in 1902.

 

The captain led a fascinating life. In 1823, he was born in the Azores, islands which belong to Portugal. His father was a lawyer, a judge, and the president of a college. Joseph went to sea when he was only 13. The gold rush brought him to California in 1849, as it did hundreds of thousands of others. He was one of the lucky ones — he found gold. Lots of gold. With his money, he bought a share in a ship and eventually formed a partnership with two other men who owned as many as nine vessels.

 

He bought land in Los Angeles in 1860, and a street — Garcia Street — was named after him. This street, which was near Aliso and Commercial streets, is now under the 101 Freeway.

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SILENT MOVIES MADE IN MONTECITO

Image: Bioscope, June 10, 191

About half of the 60+ silent movies filmed in Montecito, California were made by the "Flying A" studio of Santa Barbara, such as this 1915 film. The other movies were made by studios from the Hollywood/LA area.

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

Image: U.S. Patent Office

The First Fast-Food Restaurant in SB?

 

The big news on the restaurant scene here in January 1916 was the world premiere of the newly invented "Abadie Cuisine Roulante," created by Lucien Abadie, the French owner of the Delmonico Restaurant.

 

Made of tin, about four feet wide, two feet deep, and three feet high, Abadie's wheeled metal cart was designed to bring "choicely prepared foods, peculiar to this restaurant … to the table of each patron, thus enabling each to make their choice and with immediate delivery." It was predicted that the cart could serve close to 200 people an hour.

 

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"MESA MEMORIES" MONDAY

Sketch of a brig, courtesy of Wikipedia

The Mesa's Only Shipwreck - Part 1

Captain Joseph S. Garcia has the dubious distinction of being the captain of the "Pride of the Sea," the only ship to be wrecked while Julia Williams was tending Santa Barbara's Mesa lighthouse. (Julia was the Mesa lighthouse keeper from the 1860's to 1905.) It happened in the dark of night on January 12, 1864. There was only a thin sliver of moon. The brig was up the coast off More Mesa taking asphaltum (tar) on board to sell in San Francisco.

 

Garcia was an experienced ship captain, but something went terribly wrong and the vessel drifted ashore under the cliffs of the Mesa. Unfortunately, there were no newspapers published in Santa Barbara that year, so the only reports come from up north. The first notice appeared in the San Francisco newspaper, the "Daily Alta California," on January 15:

 

 

"Brig 'Pride of the Sea,' Captain Garcia, went onshore … on the 12th at 11 p.m. The vessel will be a total loss. Part of the freight will be saved, though in a damaged condition. No lives lost."

 

(More about the interesting career of Captain Garcia in next week's post.)

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SILENT MOVIES MADE IN MONTECITO

Moving Picture World, December 4, 1920

Montecito, California subbed for numerous locations around the world in the dozens of silent movies that were filmed there. In the 1920 movie "Earthbound," this community represented a location not of this world. After World War I, there was an increased interest in spiritualism resulting from the millions of deaths caused by the war and the influenza pandemic.

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