Letters to the Editor

Over a hundred and fifty years of California statehood have passed; each year fraught with controversy and problems. Many of the issues reflect and illuminate life at the time yet bear amazing similarities to issues of today. We no longer complain about unhitched horses parked on State Street, but we still deal with parking issues. One thing that has remained completely the same, however, is the tendency of the American public to opine and wage a war of words in the media.

Following is a selection of “letters to the editor” published during the first 50 years or so of American existence in Montecito and Santa Barbara newspapers.

Dog Days

Mr. Editor: There is an intolerable evil which should be remedied without further delay. It is the multitude of miserable dogs which infest the city. Their hideous yelling at all hours after dark is a downright nuisance. A heavy tax should be imposed upon their owners, and the dogs unpaid for, together with those unclaimed, should be destroyed. In this way, a large majority of them can be got rid of. In addition to the tax to be imposed, the owners should be required to muzzle their dogs whenever they are suffered to run loose, and a premium should be paid to any person killing a dog found at large without a muzzle. DH. (Santa Barbara Gazette, 7 May 1857)

“A Kiss is Just a Kiss…”

Mr. Editor: Young people indulging in oscillatory pastimes on the beach should be sure they are not observed. – XXX (Daily Press 17 February 1886)

Trouble in River City

Mr. Editor: Our city was recently placarded with play bills so indecent that a public protest against this offence against morals is called for. Despite several requests, the manager of the Opera House refused to remove the pictures from the boards. I cannot believe that the mothers and fathers of this fair city will do nothing to protect their children against the life-long harm that may come to them through such pictures. Surely our Common Council has power to pass an ordinance which shall remove from our bill boards, our cigar stores, our newsstands – from all public view, pictures that are clearly indecent and hurtful to public morals. The law visits with heavy penalty one who debauches the body of a child. Shall it not restrain one who could debauch his soul? – C.T. Weitzel (Morning Press, 1 February 1893)

Shoo Fly

Mr. Editor: Complaint has been made of the careless hitching of horses upon our streets. As this is the season of the year the ubiquitous fly does not light on perspiring animals in his stocking feet, but comes with his spurs on and with a little saw and blood pump to so exasperate them that they seek relief by running away. (Morning Press, 2 July 1893)

Hitch Those Teams

Mr. Editor: Has not our city an ordinance prohibiting the leaving of teams unhitched upon our principal thoroughfares? If so, where are our “dutiful” officers whose business it is to see that the laws of our city are enforced? Runaways are becoming too frequent upon our streets and nine-tenths of them are due to careless people who leave their teams standing unhitched. – HL (Weekly Independent, 23 October 1886)

The War of Northern Aggression

Mr. Editor: We notice that our old friend, Citrograph Craig, is fiercely in the forefront in the matter of State division. He says there are “radical differences between the North and South (of California) that can never be bridged over by any general laws. The people are as different as is the difference in soils, methods of cultivation and production. There is an irrepressible conflict between progress and conservatism, between energy and enterprise on the one side and Silurianism (Ed. note: Paleozoic, thus Stone Age in mental abilities) and lethargy on the other.” (Morning Press, 5 January 1895)

Auld Lang Syne

Mr. Editor: The idiot, old and young, whose one ambition in life is to blow a tin horn from 7 p.m. until after midnight of December 31st of each year as it goes fleeting by, was doing business at the old stand New Year’s Eve. During this long and weary interval of time, he inflicted himself on an unwilling but defenseless public. They endured him in silence as he gleefully made his way through the city, putting some of his proudest wind efforts into that instrument of torture, the tin horn. After causing untold agony, the man with the horn went to bed at 3 a.m. He looked back upon his record for the night with a feeling akin to pride. He had seen an old year out and a new year in, engaged in the noble work of making quiet people miserable.

How to remedy this growing evil is a question which is today stirring the city. One prominent man has suggested that the December 31st horn blowers be sent as Christian missionaries to Armenia where they be given posts that would insure their future. The idea meets with popular favor.

For the boy horn blower there is hope. He may reform. But for the man horn blower, who has one tin horn and about twenty horns of whisky, there is absolutely no hope. He is irretrievably lost. He carries with him the brand of Cain which he has raised.

“You Talk Too Much…”

Mr. Editor: A big gathering cheered the various renditions played by the La Monaca band yesterday at the Vera Cruz plaza and an even larger and more enthusiastic crowd gathered at the beach in the evening.

The beautiful harmony of several of the numbers last night, however, were seriously marred by the loud-mouthed discussions indulged in by many women. So annoying did the babble become toward the latter part of the concert that the police were obliged to request silence from the coterie.

Why gossipers endeavor to transfer the base of their operations from their back fences to the band concerts, where all should pay deep and sincere attention, is hard to realize. – LM (Morning Press, 24 July 1909)