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History of Ocean Beach

The clock on the wall of the archive room read 9 a.m. The volunteers enter in at their usual meeting time, Friday at 10 a.m. Perhaps it was fitting that the group arrived in a room that purported to be an hour behind the times, as the room functions as a microcosm example to Ocean Beach’s history and antiquity. Located at the newly established Water’s Edge Church in OB, the archive room, maintained by the Ocean Beach Historical Society, is filled to the brim with archives that combine to tell the history of OB.

The volunteers huddle around a computer, attempting to sort out their tasks for the

day. Comprised of three retired librarians, the ladies of the archives know the ins and outs of the room in a way that is reminiscent of their days in the workforce. Mary Allely looks at a box of files through her glasses, while Barbara Busch begins flipping through pictures. After a few more minutes at the computer, Heather Reed joins the group at the main sorting table.

The main project on the table this particular day is to find out information about the church in Mission Valley, San Diego, in which the Water’s Edge Church is an offspring off, for the church’s archive’s historian.

“This is really as good as it gets,” said Eric DuVall, the President of the Ocean Beach Historical Society, who helps the volunteers in the archives on Fridays. “All these women are working to help a woman who isn’t even here. This is what we do.”

Being a long-time OB resident, Duvall said, “We are just trying to preserve little bits of our history. We want to make it easier for people to do research, and to spread the word about the history.”

The archives started with Allely, and grew from there. The archives have been held in the church for the last ten years, and the new pastor allowed them to stay to promote being a part of the community.

The volunteers like to focus on how history is evolving. In a place like Ocean Beach, this history is dynamic and the archivist often run into new stories.

“The archives are a place to preserve our history because we do have a long and interesting one,” said DuVall. “Even though when it was founded it was hard to get here, people did find it. Even though it was off the beaten path. I think that is why it is important to preserve the history. You don’t pass by Ocean Beach going somewhere else. You have to come here specifically.”

The Ocean Beach Historical Society began with Ruth Varney Held, who is the founder of the Ocean Beach Historical Society and the first to collect historical items.

“She really was the push person,” said DuVall.

DuVall, who worked as a journalist in his early career, is interested in putting forth the real facts about OB’s history. He wants to give people a place to go to find information, and create a space free of slanted information.

“This is part of why I do this,” said DuVall. “If you are trying to do the background on any story, if there is a place you can go specifically, imagine how helpful that would be. Depending on the topic, you may have to search and can’t always find it.”

The society seeks to make sure this does not happen, and opens the archives up to anyone who wishes to do research or learn more about Ocean Beach.


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Delaney Mowers

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