By Lisa Crawford Watson |
Book Review By Craig MacDonald
"Carmel" is one of those magical words which conjures up pleasant memories to
most who see or hear it. The quaint, seaside Northern California town is known
worldwide for beautiful beaches, awesome trees, perhaps the best golf course in
the world, first class restaurants, quality shops, phenomenal art, comfortable
inns and the home of some real characters, who have hung out there over the past
Local area writer Lisa Crawford Watson has done a remarkable job categorizing many of those characters in her book, "Legendary Locals of Carmel-by-the-Sea."
She writes about some of its strikingly beautiful qualities—like the whisper in the trees, rhythm of the waves, stillness of the dawn and surging sea—which attracted a variety of amazing people—who could live anywhere in the world—to lay anchor in Carmel.
The largely photo/caption book features such notable local heroes as Actor/ Academy Award-winning Director Clint Eastwood (who became Mayor to right some wrongs), Famed lensman Ansel Adams, Poet-playwright-novelist Mary Austin, Sculptor Richard MacDonald (whose figurative work you have to see to believe) and Cartoonist Bill Bates (who not only observed the culture of Carmel but became part of it. His drawings & comments probably capture the humor of the village far better than anyone could describe. It's no wonder the Carmel Pine Cone prints one of the late Bate's exceptional cartoons in every issue).
The book is divided up into Artists, Writers, Photographers, Performers, Mayors & Movers, Shopkeepers, Cuisine, Characters and the Canine Community. For those who have visited Carmel through the years, they'll love to see and read again about such noted shopkeepers as Robert Talbott and Dick Bruhn; such delightful restaurant entrepreneurs as Anton "Tony" Salameh of Anton & Michael fame and Jay Dolata, who with his wife, Chloe, created bistro Carmel Belle.
One of the most fun sections brings you in touch with TV Actress Betty White, who has a home near her longtime pal, Singer/Actress Doris Day (an owner of the Cypress Inn, a dog friendly place). Both ladies have spent much of their lives working with animal welfare foundations.
The reader will discover many unsung Carmel heroes like Watercolorist Ida Johnson, who moved to Carmel in 1905 and became a founding member of the Carmel Library. In honor of her many creative contributions, the library christened its computer systems, "Ida."
Another local "winner" is Journalist Paul Miller, who moved to Carmel in 1989 and later purchased the legendary Carmel Pine Cone. This award-winning paper, with a superb staff, covers both good and bad aspects of the community better than most big city publications do in their towns.
In a succinct style, the author brings these Legendary Locals to life through magnificent photos and captions. If you love Carmel, colorful characters or a fun read, this book is for you!
(The reviewer and his photojournalist wife were married in Carmel. They've written about this unique town and its characters for The Los Angeles Times and many other publications.)