OB Historical Society board member and author Kathy Blavatt is releasing her seventh book titled “San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs Park: A History,” this month.
It could just as easily have been named “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About OB (But Were Afraid to Ask).”
Blavatt knows her subject matter well. After all, the beach community has always been her home.
“I grew up here, my childhood was spent on the cliffs, and my nickname was ‘cliff girl’ because I used to do poetry and painting – everybody knew who I was,” Blavatt said, adding she lives with her cartoonist husband Ray three blocks away from her childhood home. “I grew up on the last block of Sunset Cliffs down by Ladera by the staircase.”
Added Blavatt of her Sunset Cliffs’ roots, “I got married there. I’ve been on the board of OB Historical Society since 2005. I found a picture of my grandmother at Sunset Cliffs when she was age 14 in 1924. I was really inspired by the history around her.”
Blavatt unleashes a storm of facts, knowledge, and insight when recounting the long, storied, and colorful history of Sunset Cliffs and its pioneers. Those pioneers included Albert Spalding, an American pitcher, manager, and executive in the early years of professional baseball and the co-founder of A.G. Spalding sporting goods company.
In 1900, Spalding moved to San Diego with his second wife, Elizabeth, and became a prominent member and supporter of the Theosophical community Lomaland, which was being developed on Point Loma by Katherine Tingley. He built an estate in the Sunset Cliffs area of Point Loma where he lived with Elizabeth for the rest of his life. The Spaldings raised racehorses and collected Chinese fine furniture and art.
As knowledgeable as she is, Blavatt noted it was hard to pen her latest opus because of Sunset Cliffs’ diversity.
“It was a challenge because it was like writing about five or six different parks: It changed so much from the time the Kuumeyaay came here part of the year, to the early 1900s with the Theosophists (quasi-utopian horticultural society),” she said.
Asked what she’d like readers to get out of her Sunset Cliffs history book with lots of area photographs, Blavatt said: “The amazing, exciting history, but also that we need to retain it. There are a lot of problems right now. It (cliff) has almost been loved to death because so many people go out there during sunset. And people aren’t always being safe, drowning and falling off the cliffs, which is worrisome.”
Added Blavatt: “Some people aren’t respecting the (natural) park, which causes problems. There are a lot of human-caused problems and erosion. And there’s always a battle keeping it (park) natural.”
Arcadia Publishing will be releasing “San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs Park: A History” on Oct. 12. The Sunset Cliffs history book costs $21.99 plus tax and is available on Amazon online.
“Olive Tree and Stumps will be getting some too,” Blavatt said, adding the OB Library, once it reopens, will also have copies.
Expect more from Blavatt. “I’ve got about for books in the works, all different kinds,” she said.