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DEBORAH SPALDINGwas at Stanford at the time,

studying journalism. She later worked as a reporter

for the

San Francisco Chronicle

until 1946, when she

married Godwin J. Pelissero and they retreated to

Tecolote Ranch to raise a family, which eventually

included four children: Ellen, Candace, Silsby and

Godwin Jr. After the paterfamilias Silsby Spalding

died in 1949, his widow, Carrie, split her time be-

tween the ranch and Beverly Hills, but Deborah’s

family lived there year-round. The children attend-

ed Laguna Blanca School in Hope Ranch.

“It was a long way from civilization, as it were,”

Godwin Pelissero Jr. says of the ranch. “We didn’t

really have any neighbors.”

Tecolote “was a real ranch,” recalls Silsby Pelis-

sero, who says his parents grew walnuts and alfalfa

and raised cattle there and lit smudge pots to save

their orange groves on cold nights.

Silsby also notes that Haskell’s Beach in Goleta,

named for local surfer Mike Haskell, actually was

part of the Tecolote Ranch.

“That was


beach,” he says.

The big Refugio Fire of September 1955 failed to

burn the family out, although it came close. But they

finally sold out in 1959, when Deborah and God-

win Pelissero moved their family to Hope Ranch.

Deborah died in 2011, and Godwin a year later. As

for their children, Ellen now lives in San Leandro,

Candace in Palo Alto, Silsby in Marin County and

Godwin Jr. on Maui. (Deborah’s mother, Carrie

Spalding, died in 1970 in Orange County.)

Meanwhile, the family’s former Goleta ranch

was broken up for development. The Mooser-

designed hacienda remains a private home, sur-

rounded by 24 acres of gardens and orchards.

Since 2012, it has belonged to Schizas and Linehan,

a developer who owns Camino Real Marketplace

in Goleta. Intrigued by the hacienda’s history, the

couple reacquired some of its original fixtures, in-

cluding a pair of wrought–iron doors that weigh

500 pounds each.

“We’ve hosted a lot of charity events there,”

Linehan says.

Th re are no horses on the ranch today, and Sils-

by Spalding’s ornately decorated “Visalia Supreme”

saddle now resides under glass at the carriage mu-

seum in Pershing Park, along with most of the rest

of his collection. The museum has recreated part

of Spalding’s tack room, complete with the carved

owls that once graced its mantelpiece. Take a close

look at that cylindrical metal object on the floor

nearby, which has nothing to do with the Old West.

It’s the unexploded shell that the I-17 lobbed into

the Spalding ranch during World War II.

Other Tecolote tack-room relics at the museum

include artist Edward Borein’s epic frieze depicting

the history of the horse in California and Joe De

Yong’s dramatic diorama depicting the “Ben Hol-

laday” stagecoach in action.

“Joe De Yong spent 1,500 hours making that

stagecoach, even before he put the people in it,”

Tom Peterson says.

Long a Pelissero family treasure, the diorama

now is available to the public at the carriage muse-

um, where it will fire the imagination of anyone who

accepts De Yong’s suggestion to “trust Fancy to hold

the ribbons and step aboard.”


A 1937 issue of

Country Life Magazine

included a photo

of the Tecolote Ranch Tack Room. The Carriage and

Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara has recreated the

Spalding tack room in an exhibit with photos, Mardueno

spurs, a silver concho belt, the original chairs and a shell

fired at the ranch by a Japanese submarine in 1942. All

exhibit items were donated by the Peliserro family.


Montecito Magazine

Fall 2017–Winter 2018