An excerpt from the upcoming book by Armando Nieto, Mary Conrad, and Matt Pallamary: The Santa Barbara Writers Conference Scrapbook — Words of Wisdom from Thirty Years of Literary Excellence 1973 – 2003
The very first Santa Barbara Writers Conference took place in forty three years ago. To give a little perspective:
In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, gasoline cost 40 cents a gallon, Morton’s Frozen TV Dinner was 36 cents, and men’s paisley slacks went for $23.95 a pair.
In Carpinteria, California, Mary and Barnaby Conrad held the first Annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference on the grounds of Cate School with the blessings of headmaster Fred Clark.
The cost of the conference was $200, or $150 without room and board.
Held June 22nd to June 29th, the first conference featured speakers included Ray Bradbury, Clifton Fadiman, Ross MacDonald, Don Freeman, John Leggett, Budd Schulberg, and Jessica Mitford.
In total there were six workshop leaders and 37 students.
“Ray Bradbury showed up that first year with a sleeping bag,” Mary Conrad recalls. “Every night he bedded down with the male students and regaled them with stories. With Ray it was always stories, stories, and more stories.”