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WORDS AND IMAGES : Author's Paean to the Boats of Summer : Robert Bruce Duncan's passion for his subject is evident in every lyrical sentence.

September 16, 1993|FRANCES HALPERN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

We are often advised that the passion for a thing, a word, an idea is the rewarding factor in any project. A bitter truth for literary toilers whose passionate efforts often go unrewarded. And so when a writing colleague realizes a dream and authors a beautifully published book, it's cause for celebration. Author-photographer Robert Bruce Duncan's "Cutwater," a paean to the golden age of speedboats and launches, has just been released by Top Ten Publishing. His passion is evident in every lyrical sentence and loving photograph. He writes in the preface about "The boats of the long golden summers. Boats of wood and steel, leather and bronze . . . built with craftsmanship, care, and attention to detail, used with great joy. Restored with love and esteemed for 50 or 60 or 80 years . . . because they are more than just old boats, more even than vibrant links to the past."

"Cutwater" features over 150 full-color, on-the-water photographs of boats dating from 1910 to 1941, and their history including comments from owners and restorers. For example: Miss Catalina V, launched in 1938, underwent an eight-year restoration beginning in 1982. She's described as almost 30 feet of oak and mahogany ribs, cedar planking and glassy mahogany decking, which conjures up memories of days of fun and nights of romance at Santa Catalina Island.

Duncan, a former Coast Guard charter boat captain and nationally published photojournalist, is a fourth-generation Venturan, was schooled in Ojai and presently lives in Santa Barbara. His great-grandfather, W.D. Hobson, is known as the "Father of Ventura County." He crossed the plains in an ox-drawn wagon in 1849, was instrumental in splitting Ventura County off from Santa Barbara County, and built the first county courthouse. Hopper Mountain Condor Preserve in Piru is named for Duncan's great-great-grandfather Ari Hopper, a mountain man, grizzly bear hunter, rancher, storyteller and foreman of the first grand jury in Ventura. Duncan will sign "Cutwater" at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Earthling Bookshop, 1137 State St., Santa Barbara.

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Poets FrancEyE, Carrie Etter, Steve Goldman and Chris Schendel will read at 7 p.m. tonight at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3190 Cochran St., Simi Valley. Donation is $3. Call 522-5501.

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Saturday activities at the Thousand Oaks Library, 1401 E. Janss Road, include a big used-book sale, which begins at 10 a.m., and a Classic Cinema presentation, "The Crimson Kimono," filmed in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. The film will screen at 7 p.m. These events are sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Call 495-1392.

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The Ojai Film Society will screen the 1993 romantic comedy "Watch It" at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the Ojai Playhouse, 145 E. Ojai Ave. Writer-director Tom Flynn will be present to answer questions after the screening. Call 646-8946.

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