Venice California History Site -
VENICE & SANTA MONICA CALIFORNIA HISTORY BOOK REVIEWS
Revised June 14, 2005
Venice California: 1904 - 1930 - by Annete del Zoppo & Jeffrey Stanton
ARS Publications, 60 pages, (7-1/2 x 8-1/2 in), 52 photos, (paperbound) 1978, $3.95
This was the community's first history book. It covered its founding to the point when the community began its decline at the beginning of the Depression when oil was discovered. Stanton, who wrote the text, met Annete del Zoppo when searching for historic photos after he decided to publish a thin history book.
When he became curious about the rumors that he heard that Venice once had a larger canal system and many amusement piers, he went to city hall and bought a 1925 annexation map. Afterwards, he saw del Zoppo's photo exhibit in the lobby of an office tower in the Marina and approached her. She wanted to collaborate on the project, but was very busy as a professional photographer. She advised Stanton to research the text, find additional photos, and she would meet with him again in several months. Meanwhile he researched and wrote a text, found 3/4 of the book's photos, duplicating half of hers, and by the time she had time to see him late that summer, he was nearly finished. By that time, he only needed her to co-finance the project. She, however, demanded changes and removed portions of the text that she felt were unflattering to the community, like Prohibition. She cleaned up the book's design, and before they had a written contract, they hired a printer. It turned out that it wasn't a very good printer, for the photos lack any punch since they don't have deep blacks; just dark greys through white.
The printing job was C.O.D., but in October del Zoppo managed to pick up her half and all but 700 of the books that Stanton transported in his sports car, without paying her half of the bill to the printer. When the printer threatened to sue Stanton several months later because the contract was in his name, she was advised by her lawyer that she could lose control of the printing plates if Stanton paid up, especially since Stanton held the copyright on the book's text.
Besides, by then they weren't talking to each other. Stanton had become discouraged when the book was barely selling in the Venice, Ocean Park, and Santa Monica book and gift stores. He began selling the book door-to-door in late October, first in the old canal district near the Venice traffic circle, then throughout the town. By Christmas he had knocked on over 1500 doors and sold nearly 1000 copies, sometimes multiple copies to one residence. He made $1600 profit for 2-1/2 months work. Del Zoppo accused him of making an excess profit and some in the community, seeing him as an outsider, agreed that only stores should have made a profit selling the Venice book, however long it might have taken.
The problem was compounded when Stanton paid del Zoppo her share of the profits of the books he personally sold, and then couldn't get a resupply of books, not even his half that he had paid for. The printer was paid in April and del Zoppo returned Stanton's photographs, only after he and the printer agreed that the printing plates could never be used again. She also agreed to release the remainder of Stanton's half of the books.
The financial mess was eventually resolved in small claims court that summer. Although Stanton couldn't sue for the entire amount of money that del Zoppo owed him due to small-claims court limits (only $750), the judge became so incensed with her business theory about Stanton's right to make a profit selling the book and the fact that she wanted to pay him off over a five year period, that he gave Stanton the right to drag her back into court to obtain the balance owed if she didn't pay within six months. Meanwhile Stanton's threats to store owners kept her supply off the market while he produced a slightly expanded replacement edition.
Venice of America: 1905 - 1930 - by Jeffrey Stanton
ARS Publications, (1980), 72 pages, 68 photos (7-1/2 x 8-1/2),
This book is a slightly expanded version of the previous book and it has an attractive color cover. Sections of the text that were deleted by Del Zoppo were inserted, and additional photos were added. Those of poor quality or owned by Del Zoppo were also replaced. It was a smaller printing than the original, and fortunately was printed properly with rich blacks in the historic photos. The difference in quality between the two editions was like night and day.
By the time Stanton sold out of books in 1984, he became a history burnout. When people approached him at his postcard stand in the middle of Ocean Front Walk at Windward, to ask him historic questions, he would ask "Why would anybody care?" Fortunately, he would change his mind several years later after he was forcibly retired from the computer game design business in which he was active, and decided that more photos in his collection should be published, especially those of the amusement piers.
Venice California - Coney Island of the Pacific - by Jeffrey Stanton
Donahue Publishing 232 pages 12 inch long x 9 in high; 300 photos (40 color) (paperbound only) 1993 (Out of Print)
There have been three different editions of this limited- edition self-published book, each with added pages. The author has never been happy with the book since it was first written in 1987 under the title, Venice of America - Coney Island of the Pacific. Then it was only 176 pages with about 230 photos, and had a silver cover with an enlarged Venice Pier colorized postcard inset in the center. The author kept acquiring photos and new information. The book was revised and an additional 16 pages added in 1988. Then in 1993 the book was expanded again by 40 pages with additional photos after it was extensively rewritten in the 1890-1912 and 1930's chapters.
While this history book has the largest, clearest and best historic photos of any of the books published about Venice (some panoramas running 24 inches long), it has been the most criticized of all the books written. First, the book emphasizes Venice's amusement park industry, portraying it as the economic engine for the community. Other historians, who have written books about the community, consider the amusement piers an embarrassment to the community, something the town experimented with, but after realizing its error, discarded it and buried its history. Notice that there are no historic markers commemorating their locations at Windward Avenue, Venice Blvd, and Navy Street. On the other hand, someone reading the plaques might ask the city of Los Angeles, which annexed Venice in 1925, why they are gone. Although the book does cover all of the community's history, its politics, schools, community events, discovery of oil, etc., it does so in a thorough but marginal way, and neglects family life in a largely residential community.
Second the author is criticized as unqualified to write the book, especially since he didn't grow up in the community, had no emotional ties to the material, and never experienced anything he wrote about. His education and therefore his research is suspect since he worked as a rocket scientist, computer game designer, and photographer, not a historian. His two degrees are in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and he admits that he only took three history courses in college. His research is limited to newspapers accounts and historic documents. He did not interview residents, not that any would be willing to share their experiences with an outsider. He rushed his research into only a few years and had to constantly rewrite his book to improve its accuracy. He claimed that newspapers just published press releases without verifying facts and events. In 1993, he had to rewrite the entire early section of his book when he obtained a full set of dated construction photos of Venice and was dismayed that they didn't match his text. He searched for clues in real estate ads in the Los Angeles Times and eventually determined the town's construction costs.
Since all photo collections within the community were unavailable to the author, he resorted to buying them on the antique market. While they are professional, they lack the human element of life within the community. Sure they show the crowds visiting the rides and attractions, Mardi Gras parades, even the tragedies, but they don't show family life within the community. Where are the photos of community groups, small businesses, residential streets, family picnics in back yards, etc?
His books aren't endorsed by the Venice Historical Society who consider him a rival. As far as they are concerned, he never wrote a book and they have the only collection of historic material in the community. Since members have published their own successful books, they dismiss him as a dabbler in history. The community agrees. The Abott Kinney family, heirs to the town's founder, are upset that Stanton revealed that their grandfather was a ruthless businessman who was often sued by business partners, and that he lived with a mistress in Santa Monica and raised their two illegitimate children.
The author claimed the book was a hard sell. He often bicycled around the community with a backpack full of books, and as he rode down street after street, often in four and five hour stretches, he approached anyone in their front yards, those washing their car or carrying groceries, and showed them his book. A few were curious and sometimes one was purchased. He showed the book at community meetings, but the 14 year ordeal wore him out. People would sometimes get excited when they looked at his display of 140 historic photos, especially ones of Pacific Ocean Park that they visited as children, at his weekend display along Ocean Front Walk from 1995 to 2001. "When I told people that a book was available with double the number of photos on display," he complained, "they would say, `That's O.K., we don't read, we don't own books." Others, who saw the extensive text, told him they would think about it, then went out and bought the Venice Historic Society's small book at the same price because it had no text. Stanton jested, "People who had my book displayed on their coffee tables, were embarrassed when friends asked them if they had read it, and they replied `Not Really, but I looked at some of the pictures.' He explained that, "My books were the only carefully researched books about the Santa Monica Bay communities. The rest were frill books with lots of captioned photos and just a few scattered paragraphs. But that is exactly what the public wants. They don't read!"
Stanton, who definitely has no family or social life and too much spare time on his hand, spent a considerable amount of additional time doing more research after he was expelled from living in the Venice community in 1999. In preparation for a new edition, he read the Venice Vanguard newspaper, every column inch, straight through again, a task in 2000 that took six months. He also discovered numerous freak shows on the amusement piers when he read Billboard magazine while researching a book on Coney Island, his project since 1997. The last unrevised section of his Venice book, 1913 to 1930, was finally rewritten and is twice as long. He was ready to set type and redesign a larger book with even more spectacular photos, when he abandoned the project.
"I was having trouble selling my last 50 copies of the book," he said. Since nearly everyone who looked at the book said they would think about it, and rarely returned. I was selling a book every two to three weeks. Only two book stores in all of Los Angeles were willing to sell the book, and the new Venice residents, although rich enough to rebuild a $500,000 tear down shack, were largely in the entertainment business; movies, computers, music. They don't read! They pay people to read for them, and they aren't curious about the history of their adopted community. Why would they? Almost nothing is left, the amusement piers are long gone. And I'm sure 75% of the new residents don't even know that Venice still has a network of canals. You drive over canal bridges along Venice Blvd. and Washington St. without even noticing.
The fact that the market for the book is at most 100 copies / year and the cost of publishing another small printing is in excess of $40,000, discourages him. "Selling on the internet didn't work for me," he lamented, "people wouldn't buy a book sight unseen. Besides I'm an old man and couldn't possibly sell out a new printing within my lifetime." Some of the newly acquired photos planned for it are breathtaking; a biplane taking off from beside the Kinney Pier in 1913, the interior of the Venice Plunge in 1938, an aerial photo at the height of the Ocean Park Pier's 1924 fire taken by a naval plane, and Windward Avenue neon lit in the 30's. Unless a real publisher is found, they will never be seen. And finding a corporate grant would be impossible since UCLA couldn't even find sponsors for Stanton's WEB site. When companies heard that Stanton would be involved, they declined.
He is brilliant, assertive and has a mind like a computer, but people take an immediate dislike to him. He often rubs people the wrong way, since he outspoken and apparently doesn't understand social cues like body language, a symptom quite common with people with Asperger's Syndrome. Others cite his cynical outlook, honed by years of observation that the world doesn't work the way he was taught it did in school during the 1950's. He says that he learned quickly that being a talented photographer and writer wasn't a requirement to get work, but just be liked or friends with the people offering the jobs is what actually works.
Abott Kinney's Venice of America - Elaine Alexander
225 pages, Venice Historic Society, (1991) (Out of Print)
This history book was sold on a subscription basis of only 1000 copies. It evolved from a genealogy study that the author was doing for the Westside Genealogy Society. They financed the project and with over a half dozen researchers involved, expectations were high that important material would be uncovered. When the project became hopelessly overdue by several years after Alexander took over and redefined its scope, the Venice Historic Society paid off the previous sponsor and agreed to publish it.
Unfortunately to please many of the families whose ancestors were founders of the community, concessions were made that biased the book. For example, while a family tree for Abott Kinney's family is included, one wasn't included for his descendants since it would show that several of his children were illegitimate. There are numerous references to the Chaparelli daughter who was taking dance class, and at least a dozen involving the Barnes Circus, but nothing about the rides on the big amusement piers.
The book begins with a multi-page essay on Abott Kinney's life, but neglects anything that might be perceived negative. There are no references to his lawsuit as an orange grower with the conglomerates that ruled the citrus industry, nor any between his partners in various businesses in Venice that resulted in lawsuits because of his ruthless business practices in forcing partners out. Alexander's book portrays him as a benevolent community founder.
The remainder of the text is awful, perhaps the worst text for any Los Angeles area history book ever written. Alexander liked historian Dr. Arnold Springer's idea that one should publish one's notes and let the public piece together the history in their minds. Of course, in reality he meant that what one excludes in a history book may be just as important as what one includes in a history book. But to do this one needs to publish one's entire notes, not just pick and choose. Alexander devoted several pages for each year to snippets of Venice history and gave each equally, three lines. Thus a group of women meeting at someone's house to listen to several pieces of named music had no more importance than the Ocean Park Pier and six business blocks burning down in 1912. The text only goes up to Abbot Kinney's death in December 1920.
While a large proportion of the photos hadn't been seen before, especially the construction photos, they were mostly from the founding families that supported her project. One wouldn't know from the photos that Venice had amusement rides on its piers.
Regardless of my criticism, the book received rave reviews. Alexander was acclaimed as an important upcoming historian, and she was hired to write additional books for families and book publishers. It was the beginning of a successful career.
Venice, California: Images of America - Elayne Alexander
Arcadia Press, 1999, (6-1/2 x 9 inches high), 128 pages, paperback, $19.00, (Available)
This small book, one of Arcadia Press's Images of America series of historic towns and cities across the United States, was extremely popular when it was in print, and has been recently been reprinted. People bought half a dozen copies to give away to friends. It was the perfect frill book with just a two page introduction and about 230 small captioned photos; two per page. While the reader didn't learn much more than the town once had canals and some amusement rides, it was the perfect book for young adults living the California outdoor lifestyle with little time or inclination to read.
The small black & white photos, many which were once color postcards, and others like Chamber of Commerce publicity shots, vary in quality. Since nearly 70% had never been published before, it gave the book owner a fresh sense of what must have been a joyous time in Venice before World War II [1905-1941]. It is too bad that most of the 3 x 5 inch photos, some are larger, aren't large enough to show detail, but that must wait for the author's long planed coffee table book.
Fantasy by the Sea: Visual History of the American Venice - Tom Moran & Tom Sewall
Beyond Baroque Foundation, 1979, ( 7-1/2 x 11 inches wide), 109 pg, paperback, $8.95 (Out of Print)
This was the second history book about Venice, California, and was very popular when it was published. There were autograph parties throughout the town. Its text is in short to medium vignettes about various aspects of the community; politics, sports, amusements, oil, wartime, etc. Although it doesn't cover the material in depth, except for the sporting events, it is a very balanced vignette of the community's history. It is type of book that is easy for today's readers, who can pick out a short section of interest, and read it in a few minutes. It gives readers a taste of Venice's colorful history, and for those really interested, may whet their appetites for a book in greater depth.
The book's photos, many which are newspaper photos, vary in quality from excellent to poor; none were retouched. They range from one 4-page gatefold of motorbikes lined up on Windward, to full page photos, to clusters of four tiny photos, centered on a page. They show civic leaders, sporting events, news events, buildings, oil wells, and amusement attractions.
There were actually two versions of the book. Although a news photo of Anna Haag the owner of the Venice West coffee shop at 7 Dudley was seen crying at its close and was a Los Angeles Times photo, she threatened to sue the authors if it wasn't removed. Rather than call her bluff in court, they pulled the remaining several hundred copies from store shelves, and reprinted without the photo.
History of Venice of America: Vol 1: The Venice Canals 1850-1939
Vol 2: Annexation & Secession Movements 1919-1939 by Dr. Arnold Springer
(1992), Ulan Bator Foundation, 108 pg, (11 x 17 in), $10, (Available)
This large soft cover stapled history book, printed on rapidly yellowing newspaper stock, was planned as the beginning of an eight-volume history about the community. It was expected to be so popular with the community, especially since its purchase could be considered tax-deductible, that at least 10,000 copies were printed. Two volumes were included in the first issue; the reader just flipped it over to the back and could read the second volume, which met in the middle. One map and several dozen photos were included, but they didn't print very well using the purple ink that was chosen for the text. In fact the readability is tricky since the book's designer breaks up the long columns in the introductory pages with artistic designs that leaves the reader bewildered.
To understand why nearly all readers will find the book unreadable, one must realize that the author, who teaches history at Long Beach State, has spent too much time in academia and little in the real world of writing popular history. His theory is that published historians shape history by not just what they include, but what they don't include. Therefore, one should publish everything that was ever written about the topic, then let the reader pick and choose what they feel is important. Essentially one ends up publishing their notes in chronological order, which he did. He read the Santa Monica Evening Outlook and Venice Vanguard [beginning 1911] newspapers up until 1939, the year he was born. He feels that history after that date [his birth] is irrelevant. Worse, he didn't even include all the possible resources like the Herald Examiner or the Los Angeles Times, which covered the construction of the Venice canals in some detail, while the Evening Outlook used Kinney Company press releases which were blatantly deceiving. The old adage, "Garbage in, garbage out" works in this case. The newspaper accounts are simply inaccurate, and his book doesn't even cover the more recent events that present day canal homeowners are interested. Worse, the poor reader, expecting to be guided on a journey through Venice history, is shocked to find that the book is just a maze of disjointed facts, perfect for another researcher, but dismal reading for the layman. Thankfully the rest of this series of Venice histories had been postponed.
Santa Monica Bay: The First 100 Years - by Fred Basten
228 pages, (1974), $10 paperback, - $20 Hardcover.
This was the prototype photo history book about Santa Monica Bay and its history; particularly Malibu to Venice. Basten, who was previously in advertising and not a historian, compiled hundreds of photos and advertisements to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the city of Santa Monica. It was another frill book with several scattered paragraphs and hundreds of captioned photos, many with misinformation. It sold remarkably well with long lines at its many autograph parties. It should have made Basten a fortune, but his publisher paid him little of his royalties. After she went bankrupt, Fred republished a hardback edition, but since he didn't have the printing plates, the printer photographed a copy of the book, and softened the images to avoid a moire pattern from the halftone images. Be careful, don't buy a hardback that isn't dated 1974 or 1975. While the photos of Santa Monica are exceptional, about half of the combined 20 photos of Venice and Ocean Park are of poor quality, third generation prints. The others, a half-dozen photos by Ken Strickfaden in 1925 are excellent, although slightly out of focus on one edge due to a faulty photo enlarger.
Santa Monica Bay: Paradise by the Sea - by Fred Basten
296 pg (1997), General Publishing, $30, (Hardback) Hennsey & Ingalls Publishing, $40, (Hardback in print)
This updated version of Basten's earlier book, has more text, accurate captions, and was updated by almost another 25 years with his own photographs. While it uses many of the photos from the original book, this version adds some historic color postcards. There are about 25-30 photos of Venice and Ocean Park. While Santa Monica residents will love the book, I'm not sure that Venice residents will be very pleased.
Santa Monica:Jewel of the Sunset Bay - by Marvin Wolf & Katherine Mader
Windsor Publications, (1989), 136 pg, 107 photos, (8-1/2 x 11 inch), $26.95 (Out of Print)
This was one of a series of history books that Windsor published about communities in Southern California and elsewhere. Since they team up with a local historic society and find $10,000 / page sponsors, which they write about in the back of the book, the history portion of the book is only 96 pages. The authors, who reportably received $20,000 for six weeks of effort, used only Ingersol's 1908 history of Santa Monica Bay and the 100th Anniversary edition of the Santa Monica Evening Outlook as sources. I would have expected that they at least read portions of the newspaper on microfilm, but I was at the library daily reading those same reels for 18 months, and no one else was reading them. Just to make sure I attended an autograph session at Henshey's to see if I recognized them. Their text has a considerable number of errors, which is understandable since the Outlook's 100th Anniversary edition copied their 75th edition, which copied their 50th edition in 1925. For example, many of the dates relating to the Santa Monica Pier were simply wrong.
The book's photos, mostly from the archives of the Santa Monica Historical Society and the Santa Monica Library, are a mixed bag; some excellent, others poor quality and washed out in the printing. Overall, the photos cover a wide range of subjects; buildings, events, schools, the airport, fire department, beach and pier, etc. There are even eight pages devoted to the founding of Venice and Ocean Park to widen the book's appeal, and also additional pages that cover the communities north of the city; Santa Monica Canyon and the Pacific Palisades. The question, is it worth buying? Despite its flaws, it is the only book that gives a brief history of Santa Monica's entire community from its founding in 1875 to 1989.
Santa Monica Pier: A History from 1875 to 1990 - by Jeffrey Stanton
176 pages, 200 photos, (12 inch wide x 9 inch), $19.95, (paperbound), (Out of Print)
This lavishly illustrated history book about the Santa Monica Pier and its beaches since the community's founding was an important book for historical fact. Its opening chapters covered the entire's city's history in great depth and accuracy, but then diverged into covering just the history relating only to Santa Monica's beachfront after 1905.
The author, who was encouraged by historian Ernest Marquez to write about the area's only existing amusement pier, and offered access to his photo archive, spent 18 months in the Santa Monica Library reading the entire Evening Outlook newspaper from 1887 to 1990. He said that the four paragraph article covering the pier's history in the 100th Anniversary, was simply inadequate for a book of this scope. Stanton had to obtain additional documents, including legal briefs, from the city hall archives to sort out the city's messy pier operations during the 1920's and 1930's. The city owned the Municipal fishing pier, but not the adjoining Looff / Newcomb amusement pier which changed hands repeatedly after its builder Charles Looff died in 1918.
Since pier enthusiasts constantly pointed out that Santa Monica's side was a fishing pier, Stanton had to devote many pages and photos to the pier and harbor's commercial fishing industry. And to make the book more interesting Stanton also covered the building of harbor, opening of the Santa Monica's 11 beach clubs during the 1920's, its lifeguard service, and Santa Monica's Muscle Beach located south of the pier.
The book's photos range from good to outstanding and they are reproduced and printed with great care. They range from rare early photos of Santa Monica's first railroad pier in 1875, to building the harbor in 1933, a two-page spread of a pier bathing beauty contest, aerial photos from 1918, gymnastics at Muscle Beach in the late 40's, restoration of the pier's carousel, and photos of fishing on the pier and boats. Color photos of the then current (1990) pier were included. There were also aerial perspective maps of the pier in different eras.
Unfortunately for Stanton, the reading public all but ignored his self-published book. Perhaps it had too much text, perhaps it was that he was considered an outsider who lived in Venice, or perhaps the subject was too narrow, although Fred Basten was successful with a book about the trees of Santa Monica. When Henshey's Department store advertised an autograph party, nearly no one showed up. It was a surprise since all previous Santa Monica books were media events with long lines to buy autographed books.
Even the local newspaper, the Santa Monica Evening Outlook, declined to review it despite allowing Stanton to use photos from their archives. They claimed that they stopped reviewing self published books, but then when they resumed reviewing them six months later, they said the book's publication was old news.
It took 13 years to sell out a limited printing, what Stanton expected to do in two to three years at most. The author tried selling them by wandering the streets on a bicycle and by showing it to people he encountered, like he did in Venice. But the community ignored him. It didn't even sell well at pier gift shops, his table at the pier's Thursday night summer concerts, nor at slide-show lectures he gave at various West-side libraries. Despite the 200 excellent photos, I think the book was too cerebral for the casual reader.
Santa Monica Beach: A Collector's Pictorial History - by Ernest Marquez
208 pages, 213 photos, (9 x 9 inch Hardback), Angel City Press Press (2004) $35.00,
Ernest Marquez, whose land grant ancestors owned from Santa Monica Canyon towards Malibu, published much of his historic photographic collection in a homage to Santa Monica's popular beach front. The first 60 pages with half text, covers the development of Santa Monica's North Beach resort, its beach front luxury hotels, piers, and beach clubs, and movie star beach homes. The text is accurate with only a few errors. The second half of the book has additional photos covering much of the same material. The author's photos, many from original stereo and Rile photos, some color postcards, are printed clear and detailed, many in sepia tone. He choose mostly photos that hadn't been published in other books, even though the views along the three mile strip north of the Santa Monica Pier tend to look repetious.
While Santa Monica residents will love another history book on their city, Venice collectors will be disappointed, and Ocean Park residents might wish there were more than three or four pages of their famous pier district. But then that wasn't the point of the book. None-the-less, the book is selling well and Marquez is embraced by the Santa Monica community and is in demand at lectures and autograph parties.
Venice California - Coney Island of the Pacific (Centennial Edition) - by Jeffrey Stanton
288 pages, 367 photos, (12 inch wide x 9 inch) (Hardback) (Donahue Publishing) (2005) $49.95
Yet another version of Stanton's history of Venice California, an updated and enlarged version published just in time for the 2005 Venice Centennial. At least this time Stanton embraced the concept of a real coffee table book and published the book as a slick stitch-sewen hardback complete with a classy dust jacket. Another 60 photographs from his fabulous collection, some spectacular, were added this edition. The author claims to have doubled the size of the text in Chapters 2 through 5, and quadrupled the size of the text in the final chapter to bring it up to date, and it looks it, judging from the number of three-column pages of text. Surely that alone, and not the price, will deter Venice's majority of non-readers from buying his book.
Despite Stanton's long lead time for additional research, 12 years since his last edition, because of his obsessive attention to detail and accuracy, the bets around town were that he would never finish it in time for the summer's celebration. He was still asking questions about events in the last 25 years from residents and business owners into mid-May 2005, and rewriting the last chapter while the book was at the printer. Fortunately for readers, he is such a control freak that he actually spent three weeks at the printer restripping the film for each 16 page signature (18 in all) to ready it for press, and by typesetting at home with Quark Express, was able to make changes within a few days of actually printing the last chapter.
Still the question arises is Stanton the right person to write Venice's history, especially since he didn't grow up in the community, and as a recluse is quite detached from the politics and events that shaped the community? His only advantage is that he is a great researcher, with obviously too much time on his hands. Still, with so many academic people and writers living in the community, it is suprising that not one of them has been intriqued with Venice's history to write their own version. Stanton's problem is that as a ex-mechanical engineer, he is interested in the technolical aspects of Venice's growth, basically its amusement piers and their rides and attractions. He is obsessive enough to even have copies of the ride patents. While he is adequate to chronicle the rest of Venice's history, one only wonders what someone with real writing and storytelling skills might have done with the same material.
Luckily for book lovers, as a photographer, Stanton has a good eye for great historic photographs, and was fortunate to have begun collecting decades ago when there was little interest on the antique market in the community's historic images. What is unfortunate is that Venice's long term residents, who he met 25 years ago, and who claimed they owned old photos of Venice, refused to share or show them to Stanton as he was considered an outsider, someone who didn't grow up in Venice. As they died off over the years, their collections were either trashed, or taken by relatives to other parts of the country without the community having a chance to copy or preserve them.