Encinitas at face value is beautiful—but most locals would agree that part of what gives this place its dazzle are the folks who call it home. This city attracts a kaleidoscope of characters, and history will tell you it’s been that way here for a long time. Case in point: Skateboarding legend Danny Way has set world records with his bold stunts, like jumping over the Great Wall of China—but long before he hung his hat in Encinitas, another daredevil, Gerard Roy, was zipping around town on motorized roller skates that he invented. In fact, he’d fly down Interstate-5 while it was being built, and he once went so fast down Vulcan Avenue that he broke the speed limit, only the sheriff couldn’t figure out how to classify the ticket, so he got off with a warning.
Both of these men are just some of the distinct Encinitas residents profiled in Legendary Locals of Encinitas, a book by Encinitas author Alison Burns. The book begins in 1883—when the 11 members of the Hammond family arrived in Encinitas, doubling the population overnight—to modern day greats, like surfing icon Rob Machado. The hope is that along the way, readers gain a new appreciation for Encinitas by learning about the people who helped form it, Burns says.
After working as a columnist and editor in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, Burns settled in Encinitas a few years ago. She wasted no time delving into local history, one of her passions. Today she serves as Encinitas Historical Society’s editor, web designer, board member and she’s a docent for the group.
Here Burns takes a moment to talk about her book with Encinitas Patch. You can also view the attached slideshow, which features photos and background information from Legendary Locals of Encinitas (including photos of Danny Way in action and Gerard Roy on his motorized roller skates). If you’d like to meet Burns, she’ll be hosting a launch event Wednesday evening—and all those details are at the bottom of the story.
Why do you feel local history is so important?
If you’re going to get to the heart something, you have to start at the beginning. You have to know its history so you can peel back the layers and see how it all began. I think that gives you a deeper understanding and appreciation.
Can you share an interesting tidbit you unearthed during your research?
One of my favorites is the story of Lone Jack Road. Many years ago a fire broke out in Olivenhain and one of the homeowners was desperate to save his cattle, but his only form of transportation at the time was his one donkey—or, his lone jack. He tried and tried to steer that donkey toward a canyon, but it refused no matter how hard he pushed. Just as he was getting impatient, a huge ball of fire erupted into the canyon. That stubborn donkey had saved his life. To say thank you, he named his ranch Lone Jack and the name eventually took.
What did you take from writing this book?
Researching this book opened by eyes to the people who went before—and the sheer willpower, optimism and physical strength that was needed every day to make this a place that we, the generations that followed, are so proud to live in, yet so often take for granted.
What do you hope readers take from this book?
I hope this book encourages readers to see Encinitas through a different prism, dig deeper into the lives of the people who built this city and take a new perspective on what it means to be part of such a privileged environment. I hope they also see that we are all connected, even if they may not realize it.
If you would like to meet Alison Burns, and many of the people featured in her book, you can attend the launch event for Legendary Locals of Encinitas on Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Old Schoolhouse, 390 W. F Street. Copies of the book will be for sale during the event.
For more information, you can visit legendarylocals.com.