Arts & Culture

A group of hermits, artists once made Oceano Dunes their home. Find out what it was like

The South County Historical Society’s production of “Dune Child” by Ella Thorp Ellis opened Saturday, Aug. 5.

The production — part of the society’s Summer Historic Theatre program — is the semi-autobiographical story of Ellis, who grew up as the only child living with the Dunites on the Oceano Dunes during the Great Depression.

The Dunites were a group of hermits, artists, intellectuals and mystics who made the miles of shifting sand their sanctuary.

They came to the area for many reasons — some wanted to live far from the growing bustle of the nation’s cities, while others were forced into the lifestyle by the Great Depression and a lack of options. They lived in driftwood shacks nestled among the dunes, preaching a Utopian lifestyle and surviving on the Pismo clams that then pockmarked the beaches.

The free play will be held every Saturday through Aug. 26 at the IOOF Hall, 128 Bridge St. in Arroyo Grande. Curtain is at 2 p.m.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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