Movies Way Back When: An Unplanned Comedy Scenario

By Betsy J. Green

Sometimes the action behind the scenes at the “Flying A” was just as newsworthy as the films themselves.

Back in 1912, the movie company had just settled in their first location on an abandoned ostrich farm at State and Islay streets. A group of local electricians showed up one morning to install some lighting. That was part of the plan. What someone forgot about was to get the “okay” from the company’s watchdog – a collie who kept watch over the company’s horses.

The local paper wrote, “She is a most faithful guardian. The debonair electricians approached and started to go through the corral. With a yelp and a bound, the collie appeared on the scene. Her eyes were glaring and she meant business.

“Fortunately for the electricians, they were near the . . . fence and every last one of them managed to catch the top of it.” When the “Flying A” folks assured the canine that these were not horse thieves, she calmed down.

Unfortunately, the electricians’ high jumps were not caught on camera. Take a look at how high that fence was.

Betsy’s Way Back When book — 1919 — is now available in local bookstores and at This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at​.


Written by bjgreen

Betsy J. Green is a Santa Barbara historian and author. Her books are available in local bookstores, and at (Shop local if you can.) Learn more at

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