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Thanksgiving Memories

By Cheri Rae

cherilogo-150x150It’s always been best holiday: this day set aside for giving thanks instead of getting things. Of course, having friends and family gathered together for one terrific meal adds to the possibilities, especially when everyone is on their most mannerly behavior—deferring discussion about political or religious differences, dieting or workout schedules, or problems with children, spouses or on the job.

It’s a day to eat, drink and be merry. And to remember some standout Thanksgiving holidays.

 The Thanksgiving of childhood. Mama was never happier than when she was cooking for the entire extended family—and Thanksgiving gave her a way to blend the New World celebration with Old Country ways.  The November holiday was just a warm-up to the weeks-long Christmas extravaganza, but still a triumph.

There never was a children’s table; we kids always sat with the adults, minded our manners and ate what was dished up for us without whining or arguing. But everything was so good and we so clearly felt the love around that table that we stayed as long as possible.

It bothered my non-Sicilian father greatly that on this most American holiday, Mama stuffed the turkey with some kind of mixture of rice, hamburger meat, and Italian sausage all bound together with distinctively Italian herbs and spices. He grew up in the Midwest, and as far as he was concerned stuffing was made with bread and not to be messed with. It was the subject of much discussion between my parents every single year.

But in her dining room, the turkey was hardly the star of the show—not when a holiday—any holiday—meant heaping platters of homemade pasta and meatballs; roasted meats including lamb and rabbit; and a table of desserts that could have stocked a neighborhood bakery. There were pies, cakes, Italian cookies, cheesecake and always the labor-intensive cannoli. Then came the fruits, nuts and candies and hours around the table. We kids lingered until were finally dismissed to go play in the “little room” stocked with toys and games while the adults played penny poker long into the night.

The Thanksgiving of the land. Twenty-eight years ago this year, many of those same people around that table of my childhood gathered at my aunt and uncle’s home for a more traditional Thanksgiving celebration. I had just met a guy who wrote the hiking column for the L.A. Times, and I was working as the editor of a magazine called “California Scenic.” Both of us had been invited to the East Mojave Desert for a post-Thanksgiving tour led by staffers of then-Senator Alan Cranston, who was working on saving vast areas of the California desert lands.

When I explained to my uncle that I’d be leaving soon after dinner to drive out to the desert with my new friend, he misunderstood and thought I was going with the Senator. My uncle was born in Holland and sometimes things got lost in translation. He finally figured it out, once I married that hiking guy, he would ask me “How’s your boyfriend, Alan Cranston?”

Back in those days, there was still the post-Thanksgiving Barstow-to-Vegas off-road race that wrecked havoc with the fragile desert environment. It was finally banned and the hiker guy and I fell in love with each other and the desert. We returned there many times during our courtship and after our marriage and created a map and wrote a book about that special desert land.

After the retirement of Sen. Cranston, Senator Dianne Feinstein continued his work. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the California Desert Protection Act into law. The East Mojave is now known as “Mojave National Preserve,” and it’s a magical place that was well-worth the time, investment and work it took to help save it.

The Thanksgiving of the heart. A few years ago, that uncle who had a sense of adventure and a good sense of humor was admitted to the hospital a few days before Thanksgiving. He and my aunt—my grandmother’s daughter, who prepared just a bit less elaborate Thanksgiving meals—spent the day together. Alone. In the hospital.

They perked up when my husband, our son and I arrived unannounced. We had packed up a Thanksgiving meal and brought it to them: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing, pumpkin pie. The Works. Some kind nurses allowed us to use their microwave, and when brought those steaming plates to them, it was the greatest feeling ever. It was a Thanksgiving like no other—a small celebration in an unfamiliar room far from home.  But like those Thanksgiving holidays of my childhood, all the right people were present, and it was filled with love and abundance.

Mama, Sen. Alan Cranston, Uncle Bill have all moved on now, and we can hope they’re all in a better place. They leave us with vivid holiday memories, and we give thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

This Date in Santa Barbara History

Two important passings of note on this date in Santa Barbara history…

juniperoserraFray Junípero Serra, co-founder of Santa Barbara, was born on November 24, 1713 on the island of Majorca off the Spanish Coast. Serra was the revered Franciscan priest who founded California’s missions. Junípero also has one officially recognized miracle to his name. The Santa Barbara Mission was the 10th established in California and was founded two years after Serra’s death… the Santa Barbara Mission was dedicated to Junípero Serra by his successor, Fermin Francisco de Lasuen.

tompkinswWalker A. Tompkins died in Santa Barbara on November 24, 1988. A true journalist and historian, the last half of Tompkins’ nearly sixty-year writing career was focused on Santa Barbara… during which time he penned eighteen local history books including: Santa Barbara’s Royal Rancho, California’s Wonderful Corner, Goleta: The Good Land, Santa Barbara Past and Present, It Happened in Old Santa Barbara, Stagecoach Days in Santa Barbara County, and Santa Barbara History Makers.

Titans of Santa Barbara: Thomas M. Storke

Thomas Storke, the man who would come to be known as “Mr. Santa Barbara,” was born on this day in 1876. Although his accomplishments were many, Storke is best know for his hand in the local newspaper business. He was 24 years old when he bought the Daily Independent and over 80 when he won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism.

“In 1900, Tom Storke, age 24, borrowed $2,000 to buy the Daily Independent, weakest of the town’s three papers,” wrote the NY Times at the time of his death in 1971. “He sold it in 1909 and went back into the business in 1913 as owner of the Santa Barbara Daily News. Not long afterward he reacquired the Independent and published the combined paper as the Daily News and Independent.”

In 1932, Storke’s competition, the Santa Barbara Morning Press, was on the brink of bankruptcy, and they begged him to take over as owner. He did and merged his newspaper with the Morning Press to create today’s Santa Barbara News-Press.
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Turkey Time in Santa Barbara, CA

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

A friend of mine told me to check out the turkey’s on Modoc & MIssion. Sure enough, a tom and a hen, along with a few chickens have free range of the large yard. Driving by they almost look like yard art, but as I walked up they slowly walked towards me. With a few seconds the tom ruffled his feathers and took on the look of, gulp, the classic holiday bird.

Before he got too close I beat a hasty retreat. A really gorgeous bird.

EcoFacts: Clothing Makes the Person‏

Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch

Is the fast fashion trend waning? We can hope so. People in the U.S. spend more on clothes than ever before, an average of around $900 per person and 64 garments bought in a year (average price $14 each). They are sometimes poorly made and with fabrics that have toxic levels of phthalates another chemicals, but that is a whole other issue.

Fast fashion has been big in the last decade or more – cheap and hence readily disposable clothing, but a turnaround may be happening, as some fashion experts say a “buy less but better movement is brewing”. Great! Because the average person also disposes of 68 lbs of clothes (throws away) in a year. And then there is what we give away – so much that most of the donations to thrift stores ends up with textile recyclers who either sell them abroad or turn them into rags. Last year 860,000 tons of used clothing were exported. No stats on the rags.

Santa-Barbara-Consignment-Store-signHere is a hopeful indicator: if people are buying too many clothes, at least more are buying used, it seems. The number of thrift stores increased 12% in 2012. There are now around 25,000 resale or thrift shops in the U.S.. Well, the clothes are there to fill the shops, that’s for sure. Even downtown Santa Barbara has more consignment/resale clothing shops than ever. So maybe more of our massive amounts of clothing have at least a better chance at being worn until they are actually ready for rag status.

Be a Part of the 61st Annual Milpas Holiday Parade


Help make this the “December to Remember” on Milpas! YOU need to be in the Milpas Holiday Parade! It’s free for schools to enter… Santa Claus is up in the Fire Engine, dancers are dancing in the street, musical acts will entertain, scooters, Chinese Lion dancers will strut their stuff, and more! Merchants put out hot chocolate, and everyone has a lot of fun! Click here for entry forms.

The 61st Annual Milpas Holiday Parade takes place Saturday December 13, 2014 at 5:30 PM. The parade route runs along Milpas from Canon Perdido to Mason St.

Rick Feldman Named Grand Marshall
The Milpas Community Association (MCA) is delighted to announce that the Grand Marshal for the 61st annual parade is Rick Feldman of the EyeGlass Factory. Feldman was a founding member of the Milpas Community Association, and is a larger-than-life personality. Feldman conceived and produces Kids Day – an annual event that gives free eye exams, eyeglasses, health screenings and more to kids from all over the region at the EyeGlass Factory on Milpas St.

“It’s a huge gift to our community’s children – Feldman is just all heart. He’s perfect for our parade Grand Marshal!” says MCA President Alan Bleecker.

Rick Feldman (in blue, with scarf) next to Salud Carbajal, talking with a mother whose kid received free eyeglasses at Kids Day.This year marks the 20th anniversary of Kids Day at the EyeGlass Factory. Feldman long ago realized that academic performance can be hampered by a child’s ability to see clearly. That was the genesis of Kids Day, and it’s evolved into a huge hit. The event starts at 9 AM, but crowds often start lining up at dawn. Feldman has expanded his vision over the years from providing eye care and glasses to additional health offerings like dental and health screening services, visits with Santa and a fire engine, and more.

The Milpas Holiday Parade turns 61 years old this year, revived in 2012 by the Milpas Community Association. The parade is focused heavily on children, featuring multiple youth and community groups in its procession. Because of his decades-long community gift of Kids Day, Feldman was a natural choice for Grand Marshal. “We celebrate kids in this community, and try to select a Grand Marshal that we feel symbolizes that commitment to youth and families here,” said Bea Molina, MCA Vice President. “Rick truly cares about our kids.”

Kids Day takes place on December 14th at 9 AM at the EyeGlass Factory on Milpas St. Over 500 kids are expected to come for free eye exams and health screenings.

“The chance to see Santa is a big deal to a kid,” Feldman says, with a twinkle in his eye.

Pearl Chase Week Concludes

“If it hadn’t been for Pearl, Santa Barbara would look like Oxnard.”


As we wrap up coverage of Santa Barbara’s Pearl on the week of her birthday, here are some other great stories of Pearl Chase to run on Santa Barbara View over the years:

Santa Barbara High Girls’ basketball team circa 1904. Captain, coach, player: Pearl Chase, center, holding the basketball above her head. - See more at:
Santa Barbara High Girls’ basketball team circa 1904. Captain, coach, player: Pearl Chase, center, holding the basketball above her head.

Remember the Final Traffic Signal on U.S. 101?

From 1950 until November 1991, traffic lights along U.S. Highway 101 were a part of Santa Barbara life. Then, twenty three years ago today, the signal at the intersection of Anacapa Street–the last remaining traffic light on U.S. 101 between Los Angeles and San Francisco–was removed.
“When the lights were red, they were the only thing between motorists and 435 miles of free-and-open ride up and down the venerable highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco,” wrote the Los Angeles Times. “But when they were green, they seemed to stay green forever, and they divided Santa Barbara in two.” The lights actually lasted up to eight minutes and many motorists turned off their engines! Sheila Lodge, Mayor of Santa Barbara at the time, reportedly spent the interludes poring through her mail.

Pearl Chase First Lady of Santa Barbara

A we celebrate Pearl Chase Week, let’s thank Cheri Rae who last year finished, “Pearl Chase First Lady of Santa Barbara“! If you haven’t bought it yet, this incredible mini book is on sale at Chaucer’s, Santa Barbara Arts, Lewis & Clark and the Book Den. You can get it online at Amazon too for less than $3. It is a must have for all Santa Barbareños. Kellam de Forest, legendary preservationist and historian offers a few words about the book.

pearlchase_300x520“Cheri Rae’s little book provides, at last, a succinct account of Miss Chase’s life, accomplishments and contributions to Santa Barbara.  Such a book has long been needed to answer the oft-asked questions by visitors and newcomers alike ‘who was Pearl Chase and why was she important?‘  It is hard even for me, who knew Miss Chase, to rattle off her all her contributions and to explain her importance.  Now here is a book that answers these questions and more. I learned things about her I hadn’t known before. The book does not pretend to be a scholarly tome, but is a well-written and informative narrative of who Miss Chase really was, a must for anyone who wants to know more about Santa Barbara.”

Kellam de Forest

Picking Up Sticks at Franceschi Park

Local Views of Santa Barbara by Dan Seibert

You probably know by now I keep a camera with me at all times. When I see something interesting I shoot it, strange, I shoot it. beautiful…

This morning I parked in the spot I featured earlier on SB View, the three parking spots above Orpet park. I pulled in and decided to walk around. These are only a few of the photos I took heading up Mission Ridge.

It was nice because no cars passed me, almost total silence. I dropped down into lower Franceschi park because ten years ago I shot some photos and wanted to shoot the same scenes.

As I walked down I could see much vegetation had been cleared. Even ten years ago I noticed plants had been removed from the switchbacks in the lowest part of the park. Today most sides of the pathways were barren. And it’s not from the drought. The plants that were here had been here for decades.

Here’s the reason I’m writing this. I saw a stack of limbs, three inches thick and 8 to 10 feet long piled up. As I walked down I saw more of these used as barriers to keep people from cutting across the switchbacks. The very same switchbacks that once had vegetation, TO STOP THIS!

Now it’s mostly a barren hillside and someone is using the limbs, like “Pick Up Sticks.” This is a lawsuit in the making. Someone, maybe not city employees is using the stacked limbs to thwart those cutting. Regardless, the cut limbs should be removed from the park.