A New Book for a New Festival of Stories and Songs

By Wilma Allen

Release of the new book, “Life on American Beach: Voices from Within,” is sure to be a highlight of next month’s first annual Festival of Stories & Songs.

This tribute to one of Amelia Island’s most historic and diverse communities contains essays and remarks from 51 American Beach property owners. They share their love for the magic of the beach, their respect for the community’s rich 89-year history, and their memories, hopes, dreams, and concerns about its future.

Its dedication reads: “To the American Beach visionaries, to every individual who has stayed the course and to the community’s future generations.”

According to co-editor Beverly Smith Davis, the 51 voices represented in the book make up a good percentage of the year-round residents. “I was amazed. Almost everyone I asked agreed to participate,” she said, “so we have a nice balance of stories and experiences.” Some of the contributors are long-time residents, others are relatively new. They include a judge, an ambassador, nurses, professors, engineers, teachers, corporate executives, librarians and many more.

“To live here is to be part of something larger than oneself – a living testament to the power of history, community, and the enduring allure of coastal living,” writes Debra Dobson Morrison, who has lived in American Beach since 2000. Eugene Emory, Ph.D., a research neuroscientist and professor, says it “transcends time and space, bondage and freedom, poverty and prosperity and bears witness to a will to survive.”

Davis and her co-editors, Berta Isabel Arias and Marsha Dean Phelts, will read excerpts and sign copies during the Festival of Stories & Songs program on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 3 p.m. at Springhill Suites by Marriott. The book’s publisher is Park Avenue Press Amelia, Story & Song Bookstore’s publishing division. The three-day festival set for Feb. 2-4 is also a Story & Song creation.

“We are totally committed to telling Amelia Island’s stories and are especially thrilled to present this book along with all the incredible storytellers who will be part of the festival,” said Donna Paz Kaufman, Story & Song co-founder.

For a complete listing of festival events and participants, visit https://storyandsongarts.org. Tickets are available online and at Story & Song Bookstore Bistro, 1430 Park Ave., Fernandina Beach. Books will be available at the festival and at Story & Song after Feb. 3.