Old Spanish Days "Fiesta's" Courthouse Show - Santa Barbara, California
Today's Old Spanish Day's, "Las Noches de Ronda" Began as The Poole-Verhelle Group of Dancers Dancing for Enjoyment and Entertainment that Evolved into a Community Party Thriving Today at the Yearly Fiesta, and the Terres Family Was Part of the Dancers and Musicians:
Early history of Poole-Verhelle Group - organized in 1922 at the home of Mrs. A. J. Verhelle. Leaders of the group were Mrs. Arthur J. Verhelle and Mr. and Mrs. William Fairbairn Poole. Mrs. Verhelle (Leontine Carteri-Coe) was a direct descendant of Don Julian and Dona Foxen, her mother was Matilda Foxen Carteri. Mrs. Poole (Rose Pendola) was a direct descendant of Capt. Jose Francisco Ortega and Teodoro Arellanes. Her mother was Celestina Ortega Breck Pendola (Mrs. Frank).
Early members of Poole-Verhelle Group - The 1922 group were mostly members of the Foxen family, the Pooles, and a few friends. The 1923 and later members are listed below: Messrs and Mesdames Arthur J. Verhelle, William F. Poole, E. J. Medzikhowsky, Frank Morley Fletcher, Joseph Foxen, E. J. Craviotto, Antonio Cota, Alfred Davies, Diego Terres (My grandfather. Pictured in front with hat; also, in center of group photo holding the Senoritas outstretched arm, and in each photo pictured here), Clifford Brunk, William W. Russell, John Terres, Kermit Finnell , A. C. McAfee, William Daily, Alevino N. Hartnett, Wesley McCormick, Dominic Bregante, and Baltazar Beltran.
Senoritas Dorothy Poole, Helen Jensen, Nathalie Taylor, Charlotte Butts, Virginia Bell Anna Mae Harp, Virginia Cota, Acacia Cota, Carol Moody, Sadie Swisher, Pearly Crane, Liselotte Marie Busing, Arlene Butts, Sally Davies, Mimi Marcou, Helen E. Sousa, Gracia Escolera,, Donna Belle Welch, Marguerite Fuller, Ervina Schuette. Senoras John Stewart, William Flick, R. S. Stearns, Rafael Quintero McReynolds and Mrs. Allen.
Senores M. A. Bottello Jr., William Feliz, Charles Jensen, Manuel Terres, Willard Coe., Lucien Marcou, Le C1erc Campbell, Will G. Campbell, Roger Coe, Alvino Vasquez, Thomas Day, Andre de Bourguignon, William Moody, Alwyn Hartnett, Diego Terres Jr., Frank Calderon, George Harper, Jack Ferner, Frank Arca, Joseph Terres, Arthur Hernandez, ,George Meisinger, Dick Atkins and John Hartnett.
Members of the orchestra that played 1923-1929, "Tipica Orchestra" were: Frank Rosas, leader Alberto Garcia, singer and guitarist; Pedro Fuentes, Ed de la Cruz, B. Sauceda, Manuel Meraz, David Sauceda, and Miguel Diaz.
Members of the orchestra that played at the Courthouse from 1930 to 1949 were Fred A. Craviotto, leader; Antonio Lopez, Vicente Romero, Frank Lopez, Achille Berta, and F. Edward Craviotto.
Some of performances of Poole-Verhelle Group before the Courthouse Shows:
1924: Group danced the opening celebration of "new" Lobero. Theater for performance of "Beggar on Horseback". Week of November 24th, Group danced at Lobero Theater for performance of "California-The Story of Fremont" -- "His Campfires have become Cities" Community Arts Association.
1925: (Earthquake June 29th). Group danced at Santa Barbara High School Football Stadium at a small historical pageant "A Night In Spain".
1926: Group danced at Santa Barbara Nigh School pageant, "old Spanish Days".
1927: Group danced for the Fiesta Program at the completion of the Old Mission after the earthquake damage. August 9-13, Group danced at the Lobero Theater for the Drama Branch of the Community Arts Association production of "The Rose of the Rancho".
1928: .July 31, August 1, 2, 3, 4 Fiesta - The Group danced at Lobero for the play "Joaquin Murrieta ".
1929: August 14-18 the Group danced for production of "1818” at the Lobero, Community Arts Association. Fiesta had for its theme this year the dedication of the newly completed Santa Barbara County Courthouse building. The Native Sons of. the Golden West presented a. plaque .bearing the date (it is to be found at the bottom of the circular staircase). The Poole-Verhelle Group provided entertainment after the dedication.
1930: July 27th, before Fiesta, the Poole-Verhelle Group danced at the Lobero Theater along with the concert of Reina Velez (a famous dancer from Mexico City) and her classic dancers and singers.
There were several conventions scattered through the years for which the Poole-Verhelle Group contributed their entertainment.
The Poole-Verhelle Dance Group &Singers At The Santa Barbara County Courthouse
1931: Fiesta August 1-8-9; The first free full length presentation of the Group and other singers and dancers. The new courthouse was completed and landscaped. The first stage was a platform on the lower center lawn. The program started at 9:00 p.m. for which Eben Coe, Mrs. Verhelle s oldest son, sang for the spectators that numbered 250 to 300 people
1931 Fiesta August 21-28-29; A quote from News Press review of the August 27th performance: "The Poole-Verhelle Group took their dancers and singers to the Santa Barbara County Courthouse patio so the public might enjoy an evening such as was spent by early Spanish families in Santa Barbara from 9:00 p. m. until midnight, The crowd took part in this lovely entertainment.
There was no attempt to make the dancing a show thing. It was staged for the sheer joy of those who participated. A string orchestra made up of local players furnished the music. Many of the more shy Santa Barbara folk who hesitated to try the old dances on the large platform which had been laid on the lawn of the Sunken Garden practiced the steps on the closely clipped grass before venturing on the floor. Soon the whole crowd was dancing on the lawn in one of the most delightful of all spontaneous entertainments ever staged during a Fiesta."
(Grandfather and grandmother dance "Sombrero Blanco")
1932 The platform was moved to raised level directly across from its final location. Here wooden ramadas were built with real grapevines growing in tubs and crawling over the top of the construction. Performers could actually reach up and pick the grapes. Audience participation was still part of the program along with the dance group and professional singers and individual dancers. Eben Coe i s master of ceremonies and number one singer.
1933 Platform is moved again, trying to find the best place. It is moved to the flagstone area in front of the big archway. This proved too drafty for the entertainers and not good for spectators.
1934 The format of the show changes completely due to the increased number of spectators. From the former audience participation idea, it became a "show" as it is today.
1935 Platform again moved to its first location the floor of the lower patio. Theater in the round.
Platform again moved to the raised tiled area above the steps to the main central entrance. This proved much, much too small as was anticipated from the start in 1930. However, it rained on August 8th, a hard, steady downpour. Show was moved inside Courthouse into the lower halls and continued on until midnight in great form.
(Grandfather and grandmother at far right; father Diego S. Terres, Jr. pictured in center)
On August 8th, this book, an exact copy of an antique Old Mission Record Book, was presented to the Poole Verhelle Group by Mr. Osborne of the Osborne Book Store and Mr. Fred Schauer of the Schauer Printing Company. It was designed to keep a permanent record of the names of the entertainers and their performances. The book is handmade and is 14 ½” wide, 11" long, and
2¼” thick; it weighs 14¾ pounds. The cover is made of pared cowhide with brass corner decorations and brads. The pages are hand sewn into signatures--a real treasure! On its termination, it is to be placed in the hands of the Father in charge of the Archive Library at the Old Mission.
1937 –Ole! The Fiesta Board of Directors and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors
carne to -the rescue and funded and built a wooden platform extension out from the. center _ entrance landing of• the Courthouse --the permanent location for all succeeding Courthouse Shows. The audience now numbers in the thousands. Fred Craviotto's Orchestra played early i n the evening, then accompanied the entertainers following. Shows started at 9:00 pm. The 1936 and 1937 programs follow i n this book.
1938 The complete shows for August 11, 12, and 13 are recorded in this book.
1939 August 3, 4, 5. Program continues from 9:00 p.m. until midnight. Eben Coe, the master of ceremonies. Sad news, Mrs. Verhelle announces she is leaving the show due to many other commitments.
1940 Show becomes known as Poole-Verhelle-Coe Group. Eben Coe had contributed so very much through the past years as Master of Ceremonies, principal singer with his gorgeous voice, that the Group wanted to include his name now that his mother, Mrs. A. J. Verhelle had bowed out. Show started at 9:00 until midnight.
1941 Poole-Verhelle-Coe Group continues at Courthouse, 9:00 until midnight.
1942, 1943,194, and 1945. There was no Fiesta these years due to World War II.
1946 Fiesta begins again. Poole-Verhelle-Coe Group continues shows at courthouse under the former format beginning at 9:00 p.m. until midnight. See this book for listing of acts.
1947 Poole-Verhelle -Coe continues as before, see book for lists of performances.
I948: No Fiesta. due to water shortage, Fiesta was cancelled.
1949: At 8:00 p.m. a show entitled "El Fandango" produced by Graham Alexander moved into the Courthouse grounds, postponing the Poole-Verhelle-Coe Group shows until 9:30. With lack of cooperation from Fiesta Committee, the Poole-Verhelle-Coe Group disbands after 19 years of beautiful programs at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.
1950: With no cooperation from,, but approved by, Old Spanish Days Committee, Reina del Mar Parlor #I26, Native Daughters of the Golden West assumed sponsorship of the show and underwrote all of the expenses to produce it. With the encouragement of Dr. Anna McCaughey (a member of the Parlor) and the backing of the parlor members and the dance group "Las Fiesteras", Dorothy Poole Russell (daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William F. Poole} became chairman for the 1950 Courthouse Fiesta Show.
1951: The Board of Directors of Old Spanish Days resumed sponsorship of the Courthouse Fiesta Shows in cooperation with Reina del Mar Parlor. Thomas J. McDermott was the first Old Spanish Days Director to coordinate the producing of the newly named "Las Noches de Ronda" shows. The name was suggested by Mrs. Marie Terres (Mrs. Diego Terres). Dorathy and Bill Russell became Directors of the Show. Pat (Mrs. Charles) Baird was director of music The shows now start at 8:00 p.m. The show continued in the same format as before with Bill Russell as Master of Ceremonies. His committee included E. George Obern and John Palmer.
1952 to 1958 George U. Castagnola was Fiesta Director for the shows, and he assumed some of the master of ceremonies job. Shows start at 8:00 p.m. until 10:00, 10:30, or 11:00.
1959 to 1963 Ali Mauracher was our Fiesta Director.
1964 to 1968 Bill Russell was our Fiesta Director. Diana D. Russell was "Saint Barbara"
1969 Bill Russell became "E1 Presidente" of Old Spanish Days and he and Dorothy were released from "Las Noches de Ronda". George Obern is a faithful worker. Diana Russell continues as Program Director and Stage Director. Pat Baird is Music Director. George V. Castagnola was Master of Ceremonies. Anita Joyal was chairman of a committee of Native Daughters of Reina de1 Mar Parlor #126. E. George Obern became Old Spanish Days Director in cooperation with Diana Russell as Program Director with a committee of Native Daughters headed by Anita Joyal, the long time director of Las Fiesteras. Pat Baird was in charge of music.
1972 to 1974 Rudy Castillo and E. George Obern were Fiesta Directors i n charge, with a Reina del Mar committee. Diana Russell in charge of Program. Rudy Castillo served as M.C.
1975-1976 Tony Marquette and E. George Obern were Fiesta Directors, with Anita Crawford. Joya1 chairman for Reina del Mar.
1977: George Obern becomes -"El Presidente" and Las Noches goes on with Rudy Piatek 1977.4979) as Old Spanish Days Director and Master of Ceremonies. Reina del Mar committee remains as does Pat Baird and the orchestra.
1980 to 1991: John Campitelli and Diana Russell Vandervoort are Fiesta Directors in charge for Old Spanish Days.
1991 to 2004: Diana Poole Russell Vandervoort is the Director in chare for Old Spanish Days with a team of folks that included non other than myself, Teresa Newton-Terres - two friends with years of Fiesta history.
This history began with Mrs Verhelle collection of facts. William Russell compiled and wrote most of this version sometime in the sixties, George Obern added to it and kept it up, then John Campitelli and Diana Poole Russell Vandervoort added. So, it has been written and re-written several times and will continue as long as the Courthouse Show continues. Pictures provided by the Terres family collection.