Local businessman and historian Bunk Mann offers a loving tribute to his favorite place in his new book, ‘Vanishing Ocean City’
Millions of people claim to love Ocean City, Md., but Hunter “Bunk” Mann really loves it. Not because the co-principal of Mann & Gray Insurance Associates in Fruitland has been going there since he was a boy. Not because he used to sell umbrellas on the Boardwalk. Not even because he currently serves as the vice president of the Ocean City Museum Society and sits on the board of directors of the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum. No, Bunk Mann really loves Ocean City because he spent the better part of the past eight years conducting more than 170 interviews, collecting almost 2,000 photos and postcards, and writing copious pages of loving narrative in the creation of what many feel is the most nostalgically beautiful account of Ocean City then and now, Vanishing Ocean City: Memories From Maryland’s Famous Beach Resort.
Mann got the idea for the late-summer release back in 2004, when he and his mother went to take pictures of some of the old hotels before they were razed. At one point during their excursion, his mother turned to him and said, “It’s so sad. The Ocean City I remember is just vanishing.” That’s the moment he knew he had to get busy documenting, before any more of these precious sites got lost to time and the relentless demand for progress.
“Ultimately, I realized that the story was really about the people of this town,” Mann said, adding that the book is a true and accurate account of Ocean City’s history, covering everything from the hurricane of 1933 and the March storm of 1962 to the pound-fishing and railroad eras of the town. Mann also took time to delve into the WWII and postwar years, as well as the seminal fires that tested the mettle of this close-knit community. Along the way, Mann spoke with practically every politician, businessperson and community leader he could get his hands on. Even a glance at the book’s “People Interviewed” section reveals a veritable who’s who of the enduringly popular beach town.
The result is a gorgeous 220-page hardbound coffee-table book that features the stirring cover art of Paul McGehee in tandem with the evocative black-and-white and color photography that glut each of its glossy pages.
With roughly 40 percent of the first printing already gone by mid-September and Christmas rapidly approaching, Mann is facing the very real possibility of having to go on press again. Either way, you may want to take the edge off your seasonal chill by curling up with this book in your favorite chair while playing the theme from A Summer Place in the background. You’re likely to feel not only warmer but younger, too.
VANISHING OCEAN CITY: Memories from Maryland’s Famous Beach Resort
By Hunter “Bunk” Mann
220 pages (hardcover)
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