Way Back When? The more things change, the Bible reads, the more they stay the same. But sometimes, the exact opposite is true, as is evident in the time-traveling tome Way Back When: Santa Barbara in 1914, written by historical columnist Betsy J. Green. In the book, Green provides an easy-access snapshot of Santa Barbara 100 years ago, having culled through the dispatches of the town’s two daily newspapers. Yes, the town had only 17,000 inhabitants then, and there were only 53 in the graduating class of Santa Barbara High School—the only high school. But among those graduates was Martha Graham, soon to become a world-renowned dancer, and there was no shortage of celebrity sightings to be had, not to mention eccentric animal tales, and weird weather classics.
Imminent Doom, Anyone? Given the dominant role earthquakes, fires, and droughts have played shaping Santa Barbara’s ever unfolding history, it makes eminent sense—however accidental—that the city and county would be named after the patron saint of those confronting imminent doom. Despite all the sanctified treacle surrounding most saints’ stories, St. Barbara was a certified badass and did not take it lying down when her father beheaded her for converting to Christianity. (For the record, he was instantaneously smote.)
A certain Independent writer and columnist sought to tell this tale visually through the dominant art form of this era—the T-shirt. With the help of artist Max Kornell, he managed to pull it off. With a double-barreled drought staring us down, you don’t want to be caught without your very own St. Barbara T-shirt to ward off the bad juju of chronic weather weirdness. There may not be much water in the reservoirs, but they are plenty of St. B’s T-shirts lurking behind the counter at Chaucer’s Books (3321 State St., 682-6787). Hurry now. And tell ’em the Poodle sent you.