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Summerland's Big Yellow House

Sue De Lapa

Summerland's Big Yellow House


Love, War, and Funny Suits


Yellow House Haunted?: Summerland’s Big Yellow House restaurant is scheduled to reopen next winter, with or without the ghost that once made it a home. The eatery will have a new name, the Yellow Rose of Summerland, so perhaps Hector the ghost will find that too cutesy and split.

Bernard Rosenson, who also owns the downtown Santa Barbara Wine Cask restaurant, says he’s going to remodel the landmark Summerland restaurant and reopen the old place, which is now closed. Rod Lathim‘s 1975 book The Spirit of Summerland tells how the enclave was once a spiritualist town whose Liberty Hall temple was the scene of bizarre gatherings. Medium Harry Allan‘s body was supposedly inhabited by not one but two evil spirits. “Harry Allan conducted his best seances while dead drunk,” Lathim wrote. A large home owned by a spiritualist became the Big Yellow House restaurant. “It is the theory of one of the surviving members of the family that there are spirits in the house which are earthbound,” Lathim said. In fact, while working there in the 1970s, Rod became aware of a spirit in the cellar. He named it Hector.

Another NP Lawsuit: The Santa Barbara News-Press, following its long tradition of zealously guarding parking spots outside its De la Guerra building, is suing the city. NP attorney Barry Cappello, surely Santa Barbara’s busiest lawyer, has filed a suit in Superior Court claiming that the city violated the Brown Act, which requires open public meetings, when the Transportation and Circulation Committee discussed a proposed redesign of the De la Guerra Plaza. As a reporter, I’ve always been a hawk on keeping meetings open, and I don’t know which side of this a judge will come down on. If the city’s wrong, it’s wrong. But the suit reaches the height of absurdity when it claims that Mayor Marty Blum wants the redesign so that she can avoid running into poison pen opinion page editor Travis Armstrong in the Plaza. If Marty wanted to avoid Travis she could just cross the street, as others do, instead of blowing dough on a makeover. Exactly how a redesign would prevent people from City Hall and the NP, which are just steps apart, from seeing and/or encountering one another is hard to imagine. Also, committee member David Pritchett says he’s never made comments to the effect that he wants to redevelop the Plaza so as to facilitate more anti-NP rallies, as the lawsuit alleges. “Believe me,” Pritchett told me, “I have no intent or desire ‘to stage demonstrations against the paper’ but the way they keep insulting the Santa Barbara community somebody will be inspired again as a response to the growing outrage. Whether the Plaza is redesigned will make no difference.”

Cops Bad Examples?: If Santa Barbarans don’t obey traffic laws, Paul Norton thinks it’s because law enforcement officers may be setting a poor example. “I think the problem is the lack of police and Highway Patrol [observance] of courtesy rules, for example, signaling. I see police and Highway Patrol cars not using their turn signals when turning, let alone changing lanes. I’ve pulled up alongside of Highway Patrol cars on two occasions to berate the officer for not having his turn signal on. At least the officers didn’t retaliate. If those laws were enforced I think we’d see a noticeable improvement in traffic ambiance.”

I haven’t noticed that, Paul, but what drives me up the wall are regular drivers either not signaling or thinking they’re doing the right thing by signaling just as they turn. It’s irritating to wait for an oncoming car, with traffic lined up behind you, only to have the oncoming car turn without signaling or only as it turns.

Citizen McCaw: The Citizen McCaw documentary to be shown at the Arlington Friday at 7:30 p.m. is closing in on a sellout. Tickets are on sale at the Arlington ticket agency, 963-4408, for $15, plus a $3 fee. You can view the trailer — short excerpts — at the Citizen McCaw website.

Idiot’s Delight: Sure, Robert Sherwood’s 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning play shows its age, but it also comes with a zany mix of characters and a foreshadowing of impending war, blending pacifism and — of course — love. At UCSB’s Hatlen Theater through Saturday, Idiot’s Delight allows a solid Theater UCSB cast to strut its stuff. Actors must remember, however, to make sure their voices are heard when they are facing the “picture window.” The university’s production makes for an entertaining, well-acted night of theater, filled as it is with music, wacky tap-dancing tarts in wild costumes, strutting Italian officers, naive Brit honeymooners, a fascinating, statuesque blonde (Erika Lee) who speaks with a Russian accent, and an American song and dance man (Brennan Kelleher) who might have known her back in Omaha. But the whole affair, which takes place in a mountain resort in Switzerland, is set against Sherwood’s warning of storm clouds gathering in Europe. A 1939 movie of the same title starred Clark Gable. (I’m looking for a copy of it.)

Nexus Scores: UCSB’s Daily Nexus won seven awards last weekend, including three first-place honors, at the annual California College Media Association competition. In the general excellence category it won third place while competing against larger schools, first place for its web site, and third place for design. It also received second place in the best breaking news online contest. Daily Nexus staff writer Benjamin Gottlieb took first place in the news feature category, while editor-in-chief Nick D¼rnhfer received first place in the news photo contest. Additionally, Daily Nexus Artsweek writer Cassie McGrath took third place for best arts and entertainment story. Jerry Roberts, former News-Press editor, is UCSB publications director for the Nexus and the yearbook.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at barney@independent.com or (805) 965-5205. He posts online columns Tuesdays and Fridays and writes a print column for Thursdays.

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