While in Oxnard recently I found a book about a bohemian community that set itself up on 50 acres in Santa Barbara in the sixties. One of the founders found himself with a housboat but had no water to float it on. So he made his own lake by making a bowl in the earth using a bulldozer to do the digging. His name was Bobby Hyde. Bobby was a man with an extraordinary dream … to create a Utopia where like-minded individuals could come together to live simply, in harmony with the natural world, using only the materials they had around them – earth, wood, stone and water. He sold the land an acre at a time for $2,000 a plot. A down payment of $50 followed by monthly instalments of $50 plus 2% interest would get you a level plot, an access road, a water supply and advice and help from Bobby – but he would only sell to you if he liked you and felt you would fit in.
There was no building code in Montecito (the jurisdiction governing the land) until 1954, so the houses that the Mountain Drivers built for themselves – mostly from adobe – were unique, eclectic and highly idiosyncratic. Some of them were compared disparagingly (generally by those bemused by the ‘goings-on’ on the mountain) to chicken shacks. They were built and occupied by writers, artists, musicians and free spirits from all walks of life.
With no electricity, people made their own entertainment, in the time honoured fashion … dramatic productions, musical evenings and what can be loosely categorized as “any excuse for a party” – Twelfth Night, Bastille Day, Burns’ Night … They also initiated that very American phenomenon – virtually unknown elsewhere – the Renaissance Fair.
Elias Chiacos’ 1994 book, Mountain Drive: Santa Barbara’s Pioneer Bohemian Community tells the story – in words and copious black-and-white photographs – of Mountain Drive’s heyday in the post-war years – the 40s, 50s and 60s. more info here Mountain Drive.
by Moira on Vulpes Libris