Fire and Smoke
Ojai, 2017. Photo by Dan Schultz
In 1944, after a weekend in Ojai, Willie Weidman, who was also in real estate, drove me to the bus and casually remarked, “Only one lot is left here on McAndrew Road.”
“Which lot is left?” I asked, hardly able to contain myself.
He slowed the car. “That one.”
It was “my lot,” the one I had always wanted. “How much are they asking for it?”
He told me. “I’ll buy it,” I replied, without knowing where I was going to find the money.”
— Beatrice “Beato” Wood, from I Shock Myself
In 2017, Lisa and I had operated the Porch Gallery for five years. We didn’t own the building that housed the business, but it was ours. The Montgomery House was old, quirky and symbiotic with the Porch Gallery.
When Carl, the owner, approached us with the opportunity to buy the building “we’ll buy it,” we replied, without knowing where we were going to find the money. The house needed a paint job, new floors, new bathrooms…it was a like cautionary episode of This Old House. I had never wanted anything more in my whole life. Even if we sold our home, it would only cover a portion of the purchase price. But, I had a three-phase plan. 1. Beg. 2. Steal. 3. Borrow.
On December 4, 2017, Lisa and I dropped off a very large deposit and sealed the deal with nothing more than a handshake. On December 5, my mom called at 6:00 in the morning in a panic. It was national news. Ojai was on fire.
Co-Founder of Beato Chocolates