Our Old Spanish Days Cover Girl: Mary Dominguez Ortega
How This Seventh Generation Santa Barbaran Wound Up Dressed Up and Horseback
By Terry Ortega
Look at little Mary Margaret Dominguez, sitting on that pony in 1942!
When I asked how this photo shoot came to be, my mother told me that a man would walk his horse up and down the streets of Santa Barbara during Fiesta, asking families if they wanted their picture taken. Not only that, but he provided the costumes and horse and would take what, in this case, is one of my favorite photos ever.
My mom lived on Santa Barbara Street when this picture was taken, but she would go on to live on Montecito, Cota, and De la Vina streets until my grandparents bought a home in San Roque. A seventh-generation Santa Barbaran, Mary attended Lincoln Elementary, S.B. Junior High, and S.B. High School. She married my father, Jess Ortega, had three girls, and enjoyed a rewarding career at Planned Parenthood.
While growing up here, Fiesta was my mom’s favorite time of year. Her mother, a k a my nana, had flamenco dresses made for my mom and her sister every year. As I grew up, I found that Fiesta also personified summer for my sisters and me. We’d go to La Placita at De la Guerra Plaza, eat raspadas (snow cones), and then go to the fair in the parking lot at SBCC — because along with the carnival rides, they had pony rides. Only now does it occur to me that maybe I got my equestrian skills from that cute little girl on the pony.