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Movies & Million-Dollar Mansions, Behind the Scenes at the "Flying A," & Silents on the Islands

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

Image: Library of Congress

A couple of Santa Barbara men wrote a popular patriotic song in 1917


During World War I, John Christian, an African-American man who worked as a steward at the SB Elks Club, wrote the lyrics to a patriotic song titled, "Uncle Sam is a Grand Old Man." The music was written by another local, George Clerbois.


The chorus ends:

"When he starts to fight, you bet he's right:

Uncle Sam is a grand old man."


On New Year's Eve in 1918, a group of folks assembled on the steps of the Post Office [now the Santa Barbara Museum of Art] and sang the song. Christian later received a letter of thanks from California Governor William Stephens.

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