Several years ago SBTHP board member Tim Aguilar showed us a Mission-period bench he had acquired. Tim noted that a few benches of the same design would be appropriate additions to the Presidio Chapel. Although we know that most of the residents of the Presidio would have kneeled on floor mats during services, a few benches like Tim’s likely lined the walls during the early-nineteenth century. A recent donation by Virginia Ridder made reproduction of Tim’s bench possible. Thanks to the hard work of Tim and many interns, students, an experienced carpenter, and a talented blacksmith, we now have seven reproduction benches lining the walls of the Presidio chapel. Want to view the world from the perspective of an early nineteenth-century Spanish resident of the Presidio? Next time you visit, pop into the Chapel and take a seat!
This Saturday from 11am -3pm, Thai on a Truck, one of Santa Barbara’s premier gourmet food trucks, will make an appearance on Canon Perdido Street in front of the Presidio. The truck’s visit to the neighborhood coincides with Presidio Pastimes: The Santa Barbara Presidio’s Asian American Neighborhood, a free living history day that will celebrate all of the Asian and Asian American traditions in our community. In honor of the diversity of Asian foodways, Thai on a Truck will be offering a a pan-Asian menu for this event. Our staff can recommend the basil stir-fry with shrimp. What do you plan to try?
By Amanda Gonzalez
On Saturday, September 10 the first of four workshops from the Arts and Traditions of the Presidio Neighborhood Workshop Series was held at the Japanese restaurant, Kobachi. Fukiko Miyazaki, owner of Studio Nihon, led the workshop in an ambient room filled with murals depicting men fishing and various other sea life. Fukiko was assisted by Chikako Shinagawa, a lecturer of Japanese linguistics and language pedagogy at UCSB.
The restaurant was filled with laughter and enjoyment as Fukiko taught the group the history of sushi in Japan, the history of the California Roll, and other traditions from Japan. Fukiko taught how to make Makizushi or California Roll sushi, a Vegetarian Roll, and Temakizushi or Hand Roll sushi.
One of the favorite stories among the group was about Fukiko’s grandmother who taught her that rice is like glue. The group had the opportunity to learn this firsthand when they used rice to make the Nori seaweed stick together, a necessary step in making the Hand Roll sushi.
Once all three types of sushi were made, the group indulged in their delicious creations, accompanied by soothing green tea. At the end of the afternoon everyone thanked Fukiko and Chikako for an exciting afternoon where they successfully learned a new skill. The workshop ended and people left with recipes for sushi and a newfound skill set. Our participants wanted to know how to express their thankfulness in Japanese, so Fukiko and Chikako taught the appropriate response, arigatou gozaimasu or thank you very much.
ありがとうございました (arigatou gozaimashita) to Fukiko, Chikako, and to all our participants! If you missed the workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to meet Fukiko at Presidio Pastimes on October 1st! Learn more about Studio Nihon.
Amanda Gonzalez is the Office Manager at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.
By Torie Quiñonez
The Presidio Research Center recently received a donation of the personal papers of Delfina de la Guerra, the last member of that illustrious family to reside in the Casa de la Guerra. Delfina was born in 1861, and was the daughter of Pablo de la Guerra and Josefa Moreno y Castro. Aside from her travels as a young woman, she spent her whole life at the Casa, until just ten years before her death, when she went to live with a friend who cared for her until she died.
The woman with whom Delfina spent the last years of her life was a relative of the Campbell family, currently of Virginia. They inherited a trunk that had been left with various family members and ended up having belonged to Delfina de la Guerra. A trove of personal effects from the trunk was brought to us by the Campbells, including two eighteenth century books that probably belonged to her.
One of the books is a guide to the holy city of Rome for the Catholic tourist. Printed in 1769, the year of the first Spanish occupation of Alta California, this book was almost 100 years old by the time Delfina could read it.
The other book, printed in 1788, is a work in Latin by a Father Franciscus (or Franz) Henno. It appears to have been intended for use in the religious and moral instruction of young people. If anyone reading this blog knows more about Father Henno, please comment!
These books will be cataloged and added to the Research Center’s small collection of rare books, while remaining intellectually linked to the Delfina de la Guerra Collection from which they originate.
The volunteers accomplished a tremendous amount of work at the Presidio in four short hours, including whitewashing adobe walls, preparing beds for a winter garden, and making adobe bricks.
Last Friday we gave a tour of the Presidio to five travel agents from the United Kingdom who had never been to California, let alone Santa Barbara. Our challenge: give the entire tour in twenty minutes or less!
Our neighbors at the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission organized this visit for foreign travel agents, who visited Santa Barbara for a scant twenty-four hours. At the start of the day, they broke up into small groups of five and, scavenger hunt-style, followed clues that led them to venues all over downtown; at each location they spent a total of twenty minutes.
We hope we made an impression at the Presidio during their very busy day. The good news is, we walked the entire site, and we think we covered the highlights.
If you had twenty minutes to give a tour of the Presidio, what would you make sure not to miss?
This summer, students in SBTHP’s archaeological field school excavated a Civil War-era button at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. Below is Wayne Sherman’s account of how that button might have found its way into the earth behind the Presidio Chapel.
There’s no telling when he lost it exactly. Most likely, somewhere between 1862 and 1867. That’s when that style was worn in Santa Barbara. Dashing young gentlemen with sky blue pants would parade through town, footwear polished bright and gilt buttons gleaming. They wore their hats rakishly and quickened the pulse of many a local senorita when they smartly marched past glancing, a quick and furtive “Eyes right!”
They enjoyed fandangos when allowed and performed their newly learned skills in front of the local citizenry, bringing a sense of security to the town. That’s why they were sent; Santa Barbara was rumored to be in trouble. California was in trouble as was the whole United States. The Enemy was in the foothills and gaining strength every minute. Santa Barbara could use some protection or, at the very least, someone to visit and spend some Yankee dollars.
The first arrived in town on January 2 of 1862 to what must have been a real spectacle for the citizens of quiet Santa Barbara. In those days it would have been very hard to miss noticing when two hundred new souls show up in town all at once. Many of these men were from the San Francisco area with many of the others from Placerville and the gold country. But, as it was the town’s request that these men should come, they were welcomed with open arms and warm tortillas. However, it did not take long to realize there was no enemy in the hills and none along the coast for that matter and, four months after arrival, they left town. One of these fine fellows could have lost the button.
In January of 1864 another hundred men arrived in town. This group was from Auburn and Marysville and performed the same duty as the first, wearing the same eye catching dress. But, unlike the first two hundred, these men stayed almost a whole year before leaving, quickly as the others, in November of 1864. So, I would guess, there is an even better chance that one of these boys left town with an unsecured button hole.
Then again, the local boys saw the flush in the senoritas cheeks as these out of town fops paraded about in their fancy dress. So, before the last group left town, one hundred Santa Barbara men took the sacred oath to wear the blue coat with gilded buttons. This group, after having performed similar service on the Arizona border, returned home in 1866 to a grand fiesta at Casa de la Guerra. Maybe one of these native sons visited the Presidio that festive night to assure himself he was home. The next morning he awoke to fold his coat of gilded buttons and put it away to return to the life he once knew, never noticing the vacant hole.
To be continued soon in The Button Hole, Part II: 2011
Wayne Sherman is SBTHP’s Santa Inés Mission Mills Steward and a Civil War re-enactor with the Fort Tejon Historical Association’s Civil War program. He portrays a Cavalry Trooper with Company a 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry aka “The California Hundred.”
This spring we planted white Sonora wheat on the Northeast corner of the Presidio with the help of local third graders participating in our Early California Days program.
This month we harvested our crop and will save a portion of the wheat berries to plant a new crop next spring.We plan to grind remainder of the berries into flour for making bread and tortillas. The stalks or “wheat straw” are a great source of fuel and will be saved the next firing of our demonstration pottery kiln.
White Sonora wheat was the most important crop during the California’s Mission period. Its glutinous white flour makes stretchable dough suitable for large tortillas. Because of this wheat, large white flour tortillas largely replaced corn tortillas in Mexico’s Northwest and the United States’ Southwest. It was the source of most of California’s flour through the Civil War. This variety is the oldest known in North America.