(May 29, 2015) What was originally a retirement project is now keeping Hunter “Bunk” Mann busy almost full-time.
“When Granville Trimper died in 2008, I realized if I didn’t start this now I might miss my chance forever. In the eight years I’ve been conducting interviews for this book, 17 people I talked to died,” Mann said.
Mann constructed his book, “‘Vanishing Ocean City” by talking with people who saw, first hand, how Ocean City developed from a collection of bait shops and fishing shacks into the resort destination it is today.
“I performed 171 interviews, mostly with locals, but others who have been coming to Ocean City year after year after year,” Mann said.
From this, patterns emerged.
“About 20 people recalled the inlet being created,” Mann said. A hurricane carved the division between the resort and Assateague Island in 1933.
“I owe a lot to a lot of people,” Mann said. “People were very generous to me, and there are a lot of things I couldn’t fit into this book.”
Some of that material might make its way into future versions, Mann hinted. He said he plans to update the book in three years.
“The book is arranged chronologically. I went from the start until June of 2014,” Mann said.
Born and raised in Salisbury, Mann spent most of his formative years in and around the resort.
“I pretty well grew up in Ocean City.” Mann said.
After college, he moved to Washington D.C. but returned to start Mann and Gray Insurance Associates. He now lives in Ocean Pines.
“I really consider Ocean City to be my home,” he said.
Mann said as a hobby he would take photos of old hotels being torn down, like the Belmont, which is now the site of the Belmont Towers on Dorchester Street. Mann credits his mother for planting the seed of the idea for the book, which was, at first, going to be a “before and after” book.
As he started collecting information, photos and stories coalesced into a nonfiction book with the death of the Trimper patriarch.
“I was really amazed that the first printing sold out. I thought it would take two years to sell those copies. I certainly didn’t think it would happen without the summer tourists,” Mann said.
He published the book in September, and through his website, www.vanishingoceancity.com, and partnerships with local vendors, Mann has sold about 5,000 copies so far.
The second printing should be available soon, Mann said, and no delays to existing orders are expected.
“Now, I’m not on the New York Times bestseller list or anything, but when I see orders from Idaho or Washington state, I know I’m making an impact,” Mann said.
Mann said he received in excess of 1,000 orders during the winter holiday season.
“I’m just so grateful, and I’ve met a lot of good people,” Mann said.
To purchase the 220-page book, which cost $50, visit www.vanishingoceancity.com.