Way Back When: The Writer in the Store on State Street

Way Back When: The Writer in the Store on State Street title=
Way Back When: The Writer in the Store on State Street
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(Image: Oregon Daily Journal, February 3, 1918)

By Betsy J. Green

Most people in Santa Barbara knew him as the part owner of a jewelry store at 1009 State Street. His name was Roy P. Churchill. Was he a writer who had a jewelry business, or a jeweler who had a writing habit? It seems, he was a bit of both. “Story Writer Opens Office,” was the headline in the local paper. “Roy P. Churchill, short-story writer, in company with his wife, has returned to Santa Barbara, after an absence of several years.”

“Churchill, whose sea stories have appeared in many of the leading periodicals of the country, enlisted in the naval service a little over a year ago … The writer is now installed in an office on State Street, where he will settle down to his profession.” It may be that, like a lot of writers, the writing life did not bring in sufficient funds, so he needed a “real job.”

In 1921, Churchill and another man opened a gem shop on State Street. This shop later morphed into Churchill Jewelers at 1015 State Street. The shop stayed in business until 2016.

Churchill continued his writing after opening the store. From the 19teens to the 1950s, he published more than 50 short stories in “The American Magazine.” Some were about the sea with titles such as “Trouble Adrift,” “Salt Water and Gasoline,” and “Tell It to the Marines.” Some had titles that were not indicative of any particular genre. The most interesting one was called, “How Folks Act in a Jewelry Store.”


Betsy's Way Back When book -- 1918 -- is now available in local bookstores and at Amazon.com. This is the fifth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at betsyjgreen.com

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