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‘Vanishing Ocean City’ book draws crowd to signing

(Sept. 12, 2014) Hunter “Bunk” Mann has said and written that the two most important turning points in Ocean City’s history were the 1933 Hurricane and the storm of 1962.

So with irony in the air, it was raining most of the time Tuesday when Mann with his wife Shari sitting by his side, signed “Vanishing Ocean City,” for a line of people that stretched through the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum.

Mann was signing copies of “Vanishing Ocean City,” his newly released book telling the stories of the people who were instrumental in the growth of the resort.

On the book’s contents page, Mann writes, “I love Ocean City. As a child, it was my summer playground and where I came of age as a teenager. I worked here every summer while I was a high school and college student and made friendships that have lasted a lifetime. Many of my best memories are of Ocean City and as I began writing this book I realized that I am truly blessed.

Mann, an insurance broker at Mann & Gray in Fruitland, told Ocean City Today in an earlier interview that when he started out, he was collecting photographs, postcards and information about past OC buildings. But he learned that the “real story” behind Ocean City’s history were the people, “the storytellers” in the book.

“I wanted to do this,” he said. “I learned where old buildings once were, and what is there now. But mostly I talked to the old-timers, people who were there.

There are more than 170 such interviews, taking us through time from the great hurricane to the present with countless numbers of photographs, some of them real pieces of history, from then until now.

Nancy Gardiner was the first to purchase a book from the Museum gift shop. An Ocean City resident, she graduated with Mann 50 years ago at Wicomico High School in Salisbury.

“I’m very proud of Bunk,” she said.

Bunk was writing in most of the books, “Ocean City Forever.” Many of those who purchased the volumes asked Bunk to write a specific name on the blank page. People were purchasing multiple copies, some way ahead of time for Christmas gifts.

Janet and Chum Cherrix, who are among the 171 interviewed were all smiles to purchase the coffee table sized book.

“Growing up in Ocean City was such a special experience,” said Mrs. Cherrix. “I’ve lived here all of my life.”

“Vanishing Ocean City” can be purchased at the book’s Web site, www.Vanishingoceancity.com, the Life-Saving Station Museum, the Chamber of Commerce office, Ocean City Art League and various stores yet to be named.

Mann published 5,000 of the volumes.

One person who purchased a book was an author who has two books of his own for sale at the Lifesaving Station Museum. George Hurley, former Ocean City Council President, County Commissioner and president of the museum, wrote two books.

“Ocean City, Maryland: A Pictorial History” was published in 1979 while “Shipwrecks and Rescues along the Barrier Islands of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia came out in 1984.”

It was Hurley, Mann said, who suggested that the collection being put together should be made into a book.

Sandy Esham said after Mann signed her book, “I knew so many people growing up here in Ocean City. It’s changed so much. I can remember when 17th Street was the last street.

Debbie Rogers, who grew up on 3rd Street was inspired by Mann, because she is writing a children’s book involving Ocean City.

“I’m excited,” Mann said as the book signing line started to form. “It didn’t start out as a book. It was a collection of photographs.”

He started the collection of interviews and photographs “seriously” in 2008.

The title “Vanishing Ocean City” came in Nov. 2004 when he took his mother Hannah to watch the Belmont Hotel on Dorchester Street get torn down. His mom said to him, “everything I remember about Ocean City is being torn down.”

The book, he said he hopes will bring back some of those memories.

“I was overwhelmed by the response,” he said the following day. “It’s an amazing town that people would come out to get a book about Ocean City.”

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