Diary of a Sea Captain’s Wife: Tales of Santa Cruz Island

Margaret Eaton and her husband Ira were well known to Santa Barbarians in the early part of this century as operators of the Pelican Bay Camp on Santa Cruz Island. Beginning humbly with small-scale commercial fishing, seal hunting and passenger charters, the Eatons gradually developed a unique resort that came to be popular among writers, film companies and people from all over the country. Working from her diary and her memories, Mrs. Eaton wrote this extraordinary story of her life over a period of many years, until her death in 1947. She is remembered by her daughter, Vera Eaton Amey, as a fearless and compassionate women. Mrs. Amey has done admirably well in sorting through mountains of letters, clippings and photographs to organize her mother’s manuscript. She has also painstakingly consulted other sources to confirm, as much as possible, the accuracy of these recollections. With the passage of time- half a century and more- corroboration becomes increasingly difficult, and inconsistencies have inevitably crept in. The reader who would use “Diary of a Sea Captains Wife” as a historical reference is asked to bear this in mind. The true significance of Margaret Eaton’s story lies in its appeal as the personal account of a woman living in a man’s world, in a time and place remote from today’s urban society. Jan Timbrook Associate Curator, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

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