UCSB Students Work with Oral History Collection

by Kenny Le and Myisha Stanford

Kenny Le and Myisha Stanford during their internship at SBTHP's Presidio Research Center. Photo by Anne Petersen.
Kenny Le and Myisha Stanford during their internship at SBTHP’s Presidio Research Center. Photo by Anne Petersen.

Good news everyone! There is a brand new interview available on the SBTHP Collections Online website featuring Gary Chafe, brought to you by Kenny Le and Myisha Stanford (that’s us!). How did we stumble upon this jewel of an opportunity you may ask? We were enrolled in Professor Ambi Harsha’s Community Studies Class at UCSB where we were introduced to Anne Petersen, the Associate Director for Historical Resources of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. We were given the opportunity to participate in a ten week internship. Now, a little bit about us. We’re both students at UCSB. Myisha is a fourth year Asian American Studies major while Kenny is a third year History major with a minor in Asian American Studies. Together, we were delighted to have the opportunity to not only learn about Santa Barbara’s past, but to actively participate in sharing its history via an interview with a community member.

Gary Chafe working in his former studio at 121 East Canon Perdido Street. Courtesy of Gary Chafe.
Gary Chafe working in his former studio at 121 East Canon Perdido Street. Courtesy of Gary Chafe.

Following in the footsteps of our predecessors, we contributed to the Oral History Collection by piecing together audio clips of Gary Chafe’s life as an artist in Santa Barbara based on an interview conducted with him by Mary Louise Days on July 29 2013.

Born on September 1st, 1937 in Los Angeles, California, Gary Ray Chafe was the eldest son of Raymond Chafe and Edmee Silva. Chafe relocated to Santa Barbara in 1947 and graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1955 and went on to attend Santa Barbara City College. Chafe was first introduced to art when he visited exhibits liberated from the Nazi following World War II. Although he would go on to pursue multiple careers, his innovative set designs for the Alhecama Theater would be amongst his many notable works. Chafe had a long relationship with the Presidio Neighborhood, including running an art studio on the 100 block of East Canon Perdido Street and living in an apartment above the Whittaker building.

You can find clips from Gary’s interview  here (please be advised that in order for the interview clips to play properly, you must have Quicktime enabled as the default player for your internet browser).

Mary Louise Days with Gary Chafe on  July 29, 2013, the day of his interview with SBTHP. Photo by Anne Petersen.
Mary Louise Days with Gary Chafe on July 29, 2013, the day of his interview with SBTHP. Photo by Anne Petersen.

Unfortunately, our journey with the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation has come to an end. We are very thankful for the opportunity and were glad to be introduced by our professor. Not only did we learn about historical locations, events, and community members in Santa Barbara, we were also taught how to use editing programs. Additionally, we were given a glimpse about the tight-knit community within Santa Barbara and a chance to be historians, deciphering clues about the past. These valuable lessons might not have presented themselves had we not interned here. As we move forward with our lives, having had this experience and exposure, we have learned the importance of historical and community preservation.

Kenny and Myisha were dedicated to their project and immersed themselves in the life of a single community member for the duration of their 10-week internship. Their joyful demeanor was an added bonus.    Keep an eye out for these two, we expect to see great things from them in the future.  Thank you from all of us at SBTHP.  

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