Grandma’s book and OB’s 125th anniversary
by Molly Allen, Ocean Beach
Dec 13, 2012 | 4324 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Varney family’s arrival from Montana to our beloved Ocean Beach. When my grandmother, Ruth Varney Held, wrote the book “Beach Town,” it was purely a labor of love, inspired by the magical memories of her childhood days in OB. She was convinced no one would be very interested in the project, but pursued it nevertheless.

Here we are, now 37 years later, celebrating the 125th anniversary of Ocean Beach. The book, now in its 10th printing, by the way — and its contents are memorialized in Janis Ambrosiani’s “Beach Town”-inspired mural proudly displayed on the Bacon Street wall of Newport Farms Market. It warms my heart each time I pass and see it so prominently featured. Thank you Janis, the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association (OBMA) and the many artistic Obeceans who contributed at this year’s community street fair. Our family is honored and humbled by your gift.

I had the recent privilege of working with the OBMA’s [executive director] Denny Knox, as well as the OB Historical Society’s Susan James, on the production of an audiobook version of “Beach Town,” which also debuted at the 2012 Street Fair. I had read the book, of course, when Grandma first wrote it, but I was a teenager at the time and didn’t fully appreciate, or even remember ,its rich historical content and engaging stories.

What a pleasure it was reliving them while recording the vocal track! Truly the most rewarding voice project I’ve done during my involvement in voice-over work. What I appreciate the most, as a result, is the deep sense of community our Ocean Beach enjoys.

“Beach Town” is a part of the glue that binds us together. Many of today’s OB residents fondly and proudly tell of ancestors noted in the book. My favorite example is in Chapter 9, “The Old Fishing Bridge.” It tells the tale of precocious Dave Lewis, about how he and a couple of buddies speared a 300-plus pound sea turtle from the bridge. A gruesome endeavor, perhaps, to today’s more fauna-friendly population, but an exciting event back in the day! Dave Lewis’ descendants are still here in town and it thrills me that four generations later, Dave’s great-grandchildren, Sterling and Sally, are making their own OB history alongside Ruth’s great-grandchildren, Eddy, Alex and Grace. Sterling and Alex are “homies” for sure, and I’ve no doubt they’ll find a way to be immortalized in print like their ancestors. Hopefully, that will be a good thing!

Sincere thanks to the OB MainStreet Association and the OB Historical Society, Denny and Susan, for helping my vision materialize. What a wonderful adventure!

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