instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

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

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

LA Company Filming in Santa Barbara

A group of actors and a film crew from Los Angeles were in SB in October 1919 making a movie called "Peddler of Lies." The film starred Dagmar Godowsky, an actress known for playing a temptress on screen.

Apparently, her off-screen life was not much different. Later in her life when she was asked about the number of husbands she had had, she answered, "Two of my own, my dear, and several of my friends." (Image: Photoplay Journal, June, 1920)


All the "Way Back When" Wednesday posts from this year are part of the many items in my latest book Way Back When: Santa Barbara in 1919. Available in Santa Barbara bookstores and at beginning in November 2019.

Be the first to comment


Spanish Street Names - Part 5

Miramesa Drive – (MEER-ah-MAY-sah) Similar to Miracañón Lane mentioned in last week's post, but this street has a view of the Mesa, not the canyon.

Miramonte Drive – (MEER-ah-MUN-tay) And the third one in the Mira- series, Miramonte means view of the mountain. It is also a surname. Miramonte Drive did not connect to Carrillo Street until the 1970s when the Santa Barbara Highlands Condominium complex was built.

Océano Avenue – (oh-SAY-ah-no) Using the Spanish pronunciation for this street will get you a lot of confused looks.

Payeras Street – (pie-YEAH-ruhs) Payeras is a surname and doesn't have any other usage. There is some evidence that a Padre Payeras is buried at the Mission in Santa Barbara, so that may explain the origin of this street name.

Ricardo Avenue – (ree-CAR-doe) a man's name.

Salida del Sol – (sah-LEE-duh-dell-SOLE) The name means sunrise.

San Clemente Street – (SAHN-CLAY-men-tay) Clemente means mild, and is a popular name. There are several cities around the world named San Clemente, and San Clemente Island is the southernmost of the Channel Islands of California. Saint Clement lived in Rome in the first century A.D., and is the patron saint of metalworkers and blacksmiths. This is one of many streets on the Mesa that are named for saints.


That's all the info I have on the Spanish street names of the Mesa. Next week's post will cover the story behind Oliver Road.

Be the first to comment

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

"The Frog Has Spoken"Animal weirdness goes way back in Santa Barbara. When it comes to forecasting rain, some people watched to see if the ground squirrels were heading for the hills. But one judge in Santa Barbara in October 1919 listened for frog sounds.

It wasn't just any frog, mind you. He had a tame bullfrog which he claimed to have trained to be a weather prophet. "For several years past, this educated frog has given the judge warning of approaching storms. For some reason, the frog has been conspicuous by his silence, and indeed by his absence from the judge's doorstep during the past summer; but he has come out of his retreat, and yesterday gave the judge his usual signal of an approaching storm."

The paper didn't elaborate on what exactly this signal was. (Perhaps the frog showed up holding a mushroom as an umbrella?)

The article continued, "So ye who have ears to hear, hear and be warned. Clean out your rain barrels, mend that leaking roof, for lo, the frog has spoken; the oracle has oracled, and it will surely storm." (Image: New York Public Library)


All the "Way Back When" Wednesday posts from this year are part of the many items in my latest book Way Back When: Santa Barbara in 1919. Available in Santa Barbara bookstores and at beginning in November 2019.

Be the first to comment


Spanish Street Names - Part 4
Linda Road – (LEAN-dah) In addition to being a woman's name (like Dolores Avenue), linda means pretty, cute, or nice.
Loma Alta Drive – (LOW-mah AL-tah) Loma means hill, and alta means high. Before Meigs Road and Carillo Road were connected, this was one of the main routes into Santa Barbara for Mesa residents.
Los Álamos Avenue – (lows AH-lah-mose) I bet most people don't know that álamos means poplar trees or poplar wood. Of course, many people are familiar with the Battle of the Alamo in 1836, made popular by Disney's 1955 movie with Fess Parker. Former Mesa resident artist Edward Borein lived in a pueblo-style home that local kids called "The Alamo." Borein, however, called his home "Barranca," and today's street by that name honors the memory of the Borein's home, which no longer stands, but a lintel from the home is now in the Borein section of the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.
Loyola Drive – (loy-OH-lah) This can be a surname, and is also the name of Saint Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Jesuit order of priests in the 1500s.
Luneta Plaza – (loo-NAY-tah) Luneta can mean window or the lens in eyeglasses. Before M&Ms arrived in Mexico, this type of candy was called lunetas.
Mesa Lane – Mesa means table or desk, or a tableland. In geographic terms, a tableland or mesa is elevated flat land surrounded by ravines or barrancas. In the 1800s, the present Cliff Drive was called Mesa Road.
Miracañón Lane – (MEER-ah-cahn-YUN) Here's a street name that accurately describes the street, off Miramonte Drive, which has a view of the canyon in Honda Valley Park. This park is an undeveloped park owned by the city of Santa Barbara.
(If you missed the previous parts of this post, you can find them further down on this page.)

Be the first to comment

"Way Back When" Wednesday - 100 years ago this month

"Way Back When" Wednesday - A Visit from Royalty

This was definitely the highlight of the year for Santa Barbara in October 1919. King Albert and Queen Elizabeth of Belgium were on a goodwill tour of the United States to give their thanks for our support during the World War in Europe, and Santa Barbara was one of their stops.

The royal visitors had a busy schedule during their stay here. When they visited the Santa Barbara Mission, the king planted a cypress tree and an orange tree. They also visited the gardens of the Piranhurst estate in Montecito, belonging to Henry E. Bothin, where the queen was intrigued by his outdoor theater.

The garden theater was used as a location for several films. This is a scene from "The Quest," a 1915 film produced by Santa Barbara's "Flying A" film studio that I discovered while working on a book about silent movies made in Montecito. (Image: Reel Life, March 13, 1915)

Be the first to comment


Spanish Street Names - Part 3
Welcome back! This is the third part of a post about Mesa street names that come from Spanish. If you missed the first two parts, you can find them further down on this page. 
El Monte Drive — (MUN-tay) Monte means mountain, a man's first name, or the name of another gambling game.
Flora Vista Drive — (FLOR-uh VEES-tuh) The name means "view of flowers". Mesa oldtimers remember that freesia used to be grown here, so perhaps this name accurately reflected what was once seen in this area.
Isleta Avenue — (ees-LAY-tuh) An isleta is a small island or traffic island. Perhaps the name refers to the fact that the street forms a loop and meets Miramonte Drive in two places.
Juanita Avenue — (hwah-KNEE-tah) is a woman's name that is the diminutive of Juana.La Coronilla Drive — (core-oh-NEE-yuh) Coronilla is a word with a wide-range of meanings. It can be a small crown, the crown of the head, a bald patch on the head, a South American tree, or a type of bean. Here on the Mesa, it probably refers to its location on the top of the hill. Back in the Sixties, it was a popular lovers' lane.
La Cresta Circle — (CRES-tuh) Similar to the word "crest" in English, cresta can mean the crest of a hill or the comb of a rooster. Like La Coronilla Drive, the name probably refers to its location on top of a hill.
La Jolla Drive — (HOY-yuh) A name that means jewelry. It may be named for the city of La Jolla in southern California.
La Marina — (mah-REE-nah) The Spanish word marina generally relates to the sea. It can mean navy, a fleet (of ships), or a village on the coast of Spain. Marina is also a woman's name. This is one of several street names on the Mesa that is not followed by word street, avenue, calle, etc.
La Plata — (PLAH-tuh) Another street name probably inspired by wishful thinking like Calle de Oro and Del Oro Street. Plata means silver, silverware, or slang for money. There is a city named La Plata in Argentina.
La Vista del Océano – The Spanish pronunciation of océano is oh-SAY-ah-no, but you'll definitely get some strange looks if you say it this way. As is obvious, océano means ocean, so the street name means "ocean view." But back in the heyday of the Mesa oil boom, the name of this street could have been La Vista del Petroleo, because this street and Santa Cruz Boulevard were thickly forested with oil derricks.
Las Ondas – (OWN-dahs) Ondas are waves or ripples in the water.
This series of posts will continue with part 4 next Monday.
(For more information about Santa Barbara's Mesa, pick up a copy of "MESApedia - a history of the Mesa's early years" by yours truly.)

Be the first to comment

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

On the Cutting Edge of Technology
In September 1919, the Santa Barbara paper printed its first photo that was transmitted by telegraph. (Don't ask me how it works. I read the explanation and I still don't understand it.) But, they did it. Who had the honor of being the subject of the first photo sent by wire? George Washington? President Woodrow Wilson? World War I hero General Jack Pershing? Nope.
It was a guy who wore an army uniform and was traveling around the West cashing bogus checks. There was no mention of him in future articles, so BOLO [that's cop code for "be on the lookout."] He might still be out there passing bad checks. (Image: Santa Barbara Morning Press, September 25, 1919)

Be the first to comment


Spanish Street Names - Part 2

Welcome back! This is the second part of a post about Mesa street names that come from Spanish. 

Calle Málaga — (MAH-lah-gah) Málaga is a type of wine from the Málaga region in southern Spain.

Calle Montilla —(muhn-TEE-yuh) The sherry called Amontillado comes from the town of Montilla in central Spain. This area is also famous for its olive oil.

Calle Soria — (SORE-ee-yuh) Soria is a city in north-central Spain.

Córdova Drive — (CORE-dough-vah) This is an alternate spelling of Córdoba, a city in southern Spain, famous for making the boots that men wear when dancing the flamenco. There are also cities with this name in the Philippines, Mexico, and Peru. Córdova can be a surname, too.

Coronel Street — (core-oh-NELL) means colonel, a military rank.

Del Mar Avenue — Del mar means of the sea, or on the ocean. It's also a surname, and the name of the community of Del Mar, California.

Del Oro Street —This is a variation of Calle del Oro mentioned above.

Del Sol Avenue — Del sol means "of the sun".

Dolores Avenue — (dough-LOR-ess) Many people know this is a woman's name, but it's actually the plural of dolor, meaning pain or sorrow. There are towns named Dolores in Spain and Mexico. Lola and Lolita are nicknames for Dolores.

El Camino de la Luz — (kah-MEEN-oh day lah LOOSE) Means the "road of light". This one and the next one probably refer to the Mesa lighthouse.

El Faro — (FAH-row) A faro is a lighthouse or headlight on a car. Faro is a district in southern Portugal. It's also the name of a gambling game.

There are lots more to come. Part 3 will be posted next week.

Be the first to comment

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

A Close Shave in the Air in Santa Barbara

         This is not a description of a near-disaster, this really was a close shave. As more and more people took to the air in airplanes, they began trying to set records for the first time a certain activity took place aloft. This story involved a Santa Barbara barber and a brave victim in need of a shave back in September 1919.

         In addition to the pilot, the seaplane carried the barber, the man in need of a shave, his wife and some employees of the "Flying A" film studio, including a cameraman. As the Lockheed (Loughead) seaplane reached the 1,000-foot altitude, the man's face was lathered and shaved clean. (Imagine doing this in the air! Image: Library of Congress)

Be the first to comment


Spanish Street Names - Part 1

Have you ever driven or walked around the Mesa and wondered what the Spanish street names mean in English? Sure, names like Mesa and Oceano are easy enough to figure out, but what about some of the others? What is, or who is, Alella or El Faro? In some cases, the names are easy to figure out — like Del Mar Avenue; in other cases, the names might have been chosen simply because they would look good in a real estate brochure. Do you know what your street name means in English? You might be surprised. Read on…

Aurora Avenue — (ow-ROE-rah) Is it Spanish or is it English? This one swings both ways. Both come from Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn. Aurora is also a woman's name.

Barranca Avenue and Lane — (bah-RAHN-kah) A barranca is a hill, slope, ravine, or gully. There were numerous ravines in the Mesa years ago that have since been filled in, so this is a name that makes sense.

Calle Alella — For starters, calle means street. The correct pronunciation is KAI-yay, (rhymes with SKY-hay). Most Santa Barbarans pronounce this correctly, although I have heard some people say KAH-lee. Alella (ah-LAY-yah) is a village on the Mediterranean near Barcelona, Spain known for its wines.

Calle Almonte — (al-MON-tay). Almonte means "to the mountain." It's the name of a town and a river in Spain, as well.

Calle Brevo —Brevo (BRAY-voh) is not a word that occurs in any source that I consulted. Perhaps it was meant to be bravo (fierce) or breve (short)?

Calle Canon — Cañón (cahn-YUN) can mean a cannon, the barrel of a pistol, or a canyon.

Calle Cortita — Cortita (core-TEE-tah) is the diminutive of corte (short), but it's actually a medium-sized street.

Calle del Oro — (ORE-oh) This name means "golden street" or the proverbial "street paved with gold". Unfortunately, for the residents of this street, it is not actually paved with gold.

Calle Galicia — (gah-LEE-cee-uh) Galicia is an autonomous region in northwest Spain. People from this predominantly rural location are often the subjects of "country-bumpkin" jokes in Latin America.

Calle Linares – (lee-NAR-ess) This means the street of flax, and is also the name of a city in north Mexico. It's related to the English word "linen."

Is your brain full yet? Part 2 will be posted next week.

Be the first to comment