y pre- and early teen memories may be a little glorified, but I do remember Fiesta being a community celebration more than an event for tourist commerce -- a chance to see every face one knows at least once a year -- at the beautiful spectacles in the Lobero Theatre, or while listening to the Romero family in a downtown flower garden.
The stands at De la Guerra Plaza had real jumping beans that moved faster when warmed in the palm of the hand (I guess now the animal rights activists are protecting the larvae squirming inside each bean). Little girls whisked through the crowd, their bright smiles framed in flamenco frills and flowers; with big baskets hooked on their arms they were actually allowed to sell confetti eggs without being chased away by police for not having a sales permit.
And, where now electric rock rules the plaza festivities, the highlight of the events for me was the genuine Punch and Judy puppet show, the hand-painted puppets both funny and frightening. Hunchbacked Punch actually punched Judy with his big bat, and we children, faces sticky with the glaze from our candied apples, shouted desperate warnings when the Devil showed up behind Punch. After the show I was amazed that only one person emerged from behind the colorful puppet stage.
My overall memories of Old Spanish Days are framed by buildings that may have appeared less "Spanish" than the building code now demands, taking place on sidewalks with less "Spanish" tile than now, but the people on the street expressed a more Mediterranean-like spirit of enjoying life. Even the occasional open beer bottle in someone's hands didn't threaten our youthful innocence, for memories of actual eye contact and smiles of strangers not wanting anything else are for me still a standard of what a community celebration can be.
I was born in 1927, and lived at 916 Spring St. from then until 1979.
I attended Santa Barbara schools.
I met Will Rogers on horseback.
I met "the cowboys" handling steers.
I met with Pearl Chase in Plans and Planting.
I was a flower girl in Fiesta.
I sang in choirs at the County Bowl.
In New York productions for two years, 1953-54.
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