To the Editor,
Labor Day, I spent with Patrica Wallace, great-great-great-granddaughter of Lou Wallace of Ben Hur Fame. Pat, a former movie woman, grew up in San
Francisco. She reminisced about June 1966, being at Ocean Beach with friends. They saw smoke billowing up beyond the Cliff House and went to see the Sutro Baths burn. As she told me this, a sense of horror came to me. That was the same month the Ocean View burned.
I was there with John Carr Dodge and Della Slate on the porch of the Shamrock when the fire started going up into the eaves. The Block Island Volunteer Fire Department was there quickly. Mr. Swienton lost control of the hose, and it dangerously spiraled over the lawn before controlled. The fire was a holocaust to history. My mother and father had joined Barbara and Albion Slate at the hotel the night before for dancing. As children, we were not allowed go to the big hotels. But in the winter with John, I remember going up onto the porch of the Ocean View. John’s great-great-grandfather, Nicholas Ball, had built the Ocean View from monies made in San Francisco.
I still feel so heartbroken that this fire destroyed such a wonderful Block Island history.
Brette Thomas McCabe
San Francisco, CA