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Santa Barbara in May 1914
updated: May 17, 2014, 11:00 AM
By Betsy J. Green
It was another happenin' month in our town 100 years ago this month. Here's the news straight from the
pages of the May 1914 editions of Santa Barbara's "Daily News & Independent" and "Morning Press" to your
computer, laptop, smart phone, or other new-fangled thingamajig.
Real Men - Bowl in Their Underwear? Was this fellow on a coed team? Or was it come-as-you-
are night for the guys? Union suits, so named because they united undershirts and underpants in one
piece, were first patented in 1868. Normally union suits (also called long johns) had a back flap to make for
faster "pit stops," so I'm not sure why a closed crotch was a selling point. How did guys, um, … oh never
The name Richmond was used because these undies were patented by the Richmond Underwear Company
in Richmond, Indiana. In 1915, the company was bought by the Atlas Underwear Company which stayed in
business long enough to manufacture "hi-tech metabolism-sensing long johns" used in Apollo missions'
The Atlas Underwear Company also owned the BVD company. BVD stands for Bradley, Voorhees & Day, an
underwear company in New York. But you knew that, right? Atlas is no longer in business. Richmond,
Indiana is still in business and is sometimes called the "cradle of recorded jazz" because some early jazz
records were made there. I guess that sounds better than "cradle of closed crotch skivvies." Now, say that
fast three times!
Memorial Day or Decoration Day? Both names were used for the May 30th ceremony that was
held in the Santa Barbara cemetery to honor those who died in the armed forces. Ladies from the local
veterans' support group went to the wharf and threw flowers into the water in remembrance of sailors who
died at sea.
The holiday was originally called "Decoration Day" because people went to the cemeteries to decorate the
graves of Civil War soldiers. By 1914, the papers here used both "Decoration Day" and "Memorial Day." May
30th was chosen because it was a time when many flowers were blooming. In 1967, the U.S. Government
changed the name of the holiday to "Memorial Day." In 1971, the date of the holiday was changed to the
last Monday in May.
Bungalow in the News. A local paper announced that a bungalow in Montecito designed by
prominent local architect Francis T. Underhill was featured in the May issue of the magazine "Country Life
in America." The home, known as "La Chiquita" is now part of the Four Seasons Resort. You can read more
about Underhill in Hattie Beresford's article at www.digital
editiononline.com (Photo: Francis T. Underhill papers, Art Design & Architecture Museum, UC
Remember S&H Green Stamps? An ad for Krug Bros. Co. (431 State Street, phone Pacific 172),
advertised Kentucky whiskey for $1 a quart and included S&H Green Stamps with each purchase. Krug Bros.
also offered "Prompt Delivery," so if you ran out of hooch at an inopportune moment, you had only to pick
up the phone.
The Krug Brothers wine and liquor store was here during the 19-teens. They were in competition with nine
other liquor stores. (The brothers, Albert and Charles L. Krug, were not related to Charles Krug, founder of
one of the first wineries in the Napa Valley in 1861.)
Okay, so what did S&H stand for? I sure didn't know, although I vaguely remember the little green stamps
and the booklets you could trade in for stuff. The Sperry & Hutchinson Company began offering stamps to
retailers back in 1896. They were popular through the 1960s, but are no longer used. There is still a S&H
Green Stamps sign at the Santa Cruz Market in Goleta. (Photo: Betsy J. Green) The stamps were mentioned
in a number of films and songs, most notably Pat Boone's 1962 hit "Speedy Gonzales" in which Speedy
Gonzales (voiced by Mel Blanc) says, "Hey Rosita, come quick. Down at the cantina, they're giving green
stamps with tequila." Did the lyricist get the idea from our very own Krug Bros? Hmmm…. Anyway, here's
the song on Youtube:
Why is this dude smiling? What are you thinking that he wants? Hmmm… No, it wasn't that. And
it wasn't a hug either. He's thinking about buying a spiffy new Panama hat, according to this ad from The
Great Wardrobe. That store, located at 833 State Street, opened in 1886 and was one of the premier
clothing stores in Santa Barbara through the 1940s.
Panama hats don't come really come from Panama - they are made in Ecuador. Why the name Panama?
The hats are sent to Panama and shipped from there and, of course, once the Panama Canal opened, they
must have been popular souvenirs. (Spoiler alert! The canal was finished in August 1914.)
The opening of the canal, nicknamed "the Big Ditch," was eagerly awaited by all the cities on the California
coast who realized it would mean more tourists and more business. The editorial in one of our papers
enthused in especially awkward phraseology, "It will give the pleasure-seeker and those that in summer
flee the heat-stricken Atlantic Coast, a delightful route to this land of delight, and … there doubtless will
be many visitors to California, who never before would come in the summer, for dread of the long and
uncomfortable journey overland."
He Took the Money and Ran, but first he stopped to write an insulting note to his victim. Mrs.
Sophia Parma of 912 Chapala Street returned home one day to find her house had been ransacked and $15
was stolen. The robber wrote, "Thanks for the ‘dough.' Better keep your front door closed." (The home at
912 Chapala Street would be under the garage of Paseo Nuevo today.)
"Mrs. Parma admits that the front door of her house was left open this morning, and that the advice of the
burglar is valuable," wrote the paper. It was not mentioned if the police used their new fingerprinting
equipment to finger the miscreant.
Celebrity Sightings - two of the largest actors from the Keystone Movie Company appeared in
an exhibition baseball game in Santa Barbara. Marie Dressler was umpire, and Fatty Arbuckle, aka the
"Human Roundhouse," played shortstop. (Photo: Library of Congress)
If it's Good for Your Horse… An ad for Snow Liniment claimed that it is "a healing remedy for all
ailments of the flesh of man and beast." It was said to benefit two-legged creatures suffering from
lacerated flesh, rheumatic pains, neuralgia, and sciatica. And it healed the sores and wounds of four-
footed sufferers as well. An investigation of the product found that it contained turpentine and oil of
Judy Pearce, lifelong horsewoman, told me that it is quite common for people and horses to use the same
product. She recalls a liniment that worked for her. "I remember using it on my horse when I was a kid, and
when I had a sprained ankle I used it. … About 30 or so years ago, there was a product used on race
horses, for their legs I believe, and some old man discovered rubbing it on the horse made the arthritis in
his hands much better; well, that became a big deal and everyone wanted it." Pearce added that hair
products are also used across species. "I remember when we realized cream conditioner used for horse's
manes and tails would no doubt work for us too; we'd go to Jedlickas to buy it, now it's sold in the grocery
store with other hair products."
Things Your Grandparents Never Told You! Female impersonators were hot in 1914 vaudeville
shows in Santa Barbara. A Mr. Finch wowed an audience of more than 700 people at the Mission Theatre on
State Street one night. "Mr. Finch has a beautiful wardrobe and sings just like a woman," wrote one paper.
The paper then announced that he/she would appear in drag the next day at a local store to see if anyone
could tell who she/he was.
Well, dear readers, I know you just CAN'T WAIT to learn if he/she was outed or not. So I won't keep you in
suspense. Mr. Finch was detected, in spite of his/her excellent gender disguise and the woman - the
genuine article, that is - who outed him received a $5 gift certificate. However, several other genuine
specimens of the female persuasion present in the store were falsely accused of being imitations. Oh, the
embarrassment! According to the paper, everyone "had a jolly time," but I imagine the falsely accused
women went straight to the hat department and bought themselves a new chapeau to console their
wounded pride. And who could blame them, darling?
"Sun in Eclipse. "The Guadalupe ‘Sun' [newspaper]… has ceased to shine, according to reports.
The publication was formerly known as the ‘Moon,' but in the hope things might look a bit more brighter,
the name was recently changed to the ‘Sun,'" wrote one local journalist who must have slept through
English class. More brighter? Hello? He/she would have been a more successfuller writer if he/she had used
betterer grammar. (Apologies to English teachers everywhere!)
Bombs Away! Far Away, Please! Last month, I wrote about U.S. troop trains and warships passing
through Santa Barbara on their way to the civil war in Mexico. This month, there was another local
connection to the hostilities in the south. The front page of one of our papers held a photo of the French
pilot Didier Masson who had dropped bombs over several cities in Mexico. (Masson was a mercenary
working for the rebel side.) Many Santa Barbarans would remember that Masson had landed his plane on
the front lawn of the Potter Hotel on New Year's Day in 1911. (The hotel was located in the West Beach
area.) Fortunately Masson did not drop any bombs while he visited Santa Barbara, but perhaps if someone
had paid him to do so, he might have.
Counting Down. There were a number of articles (pardon the pun) about numbers in May 1914:
The population of Santa Barbara reached an estimated 17,145 - an amazing increase of 50
percent since the census was taken in 1910. "The building permits show that a new home is going up
almost every day, while many industrial and social buildings are in progress of construction," wrote one
local paper. (Today the estimated population is 89,082 according to the city's website.)
The "Fair View Ranch" containing more than 400 acres was being subdivided into nine ranches
that contained 30 to 80 acres each. The land, near present-day Fairview Avenue, had been owned and
farmed by Edgar Augustus Hollister. His father had owned the land since 1872.
One of the largest classes ever to graduate from Santa Barbara High School thus far was expected to
number 53. (This year, the high school is predicting that 460 students will do the "Pomp and
And last, but by no means least, The Hotel Neal at 217 State Street was requesting a permit that would
allow the two-story building (shown in photo) to be increased by an additional floor. For more
information about The Hotel Neal, I asked - who else? - Neal Graffy. He told me that the hotel was named
for its first owner Neal Callahan. This hotel opened in 1906, and contained a restaurant and 29 rooms -
some with a private bathroom; some not. It was located near the train station, and was an economical
alternative to the pricier Potter Hotel on the other side of the tracks. The hotel did add a third floor in
1914. But due to extensive renovations after the 1925 earthquake, the present building looks quite
different from the original. (Photo: Neal Graffy of http://www.elbarbareno.com/)
Get Ready! The End is Near! Okay, California doesn't have all the loonies in the world, but we do
seem to have a healthy helping of crazies - now, and in the past. "Cultists Predict Destruction of Los
Angeles; Flee by Boat" read the headline in the local paper. "Spurred by the belief that the southern
metropolis is to be engulfed by destruction, a party of 147 ‘Holy Lifers'" stopped off at the wharf in Santa
Barbara on their exodus to the north. One member of the "motley gathering" told the paper, "These are
mighty days. There are wars and rumors of wars. The prophecies are about to be fulfilled. The last seal is
about to be broken. Destruction faces the world, and not only Los Angeles." The group then got back on
the boat and continued north in search of who knows what.
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Santa Barbara author Betsy J. Green is also in search of who knows what, but is enjoying the journey
nonetheless. She writes a history column for "The Mesa Paper," a garden column for the "Living-Mission
Gazette," and is working on a book about the history of the Mesa, and another based on these 1914 Edhat
columns. To see her previous Edhat columns, click here.
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