Local Historian Reveals More Malibu Mysteries in Latest Book

The author, Suzanne Guldimann (right), and brother Christopher on his horse Apple—old-school “life in Malibu” in 1970s Point Dume

Some mysteries of Malibu and beautiful photography have just been released in the new book, “Life in Malibu II,” the second in a series from local historian Suzanne Guldimann. 

The journalist/photographer has poured her heart into her latest project, which includes all kinds of fascinating tidbits: old school Malibu, today’s oddities found around the shore, the 2019 super bloom and so much more.

Having lived in Malibu more than 50 years, Guldimann knows its recent history firsthand and has delved deep to discover the Malibu of old. 

“I was blessed to grow up here in a family of activists who were very involved in all things Malibu,” Guldimann said in a recent interview. “I grew up around a lot of wonderful larger-than-life characters and heard a lot of stories growing up.” 

Some of those tales she included in the new book cover the notorious Tony “The Hat” Cornero, a rumrunner who operated gambling boats just off the Santa Monica Bay. 

“He had a strong presence in Malibu,” Guldimann stated. There was also more on Malibu founding mother May Knight Rindge, known as the Queen of Malibu, and her railroad. “When I was a little girl there were still bits of the train trestles here on Point Dume,” Guldimann said. The last of the trestles unfortunately burned in the Woolsey Fire, the author wistfully revealed.

The first book in her series, Life in Malibu, was scheduled to be released in November 2018, but a Malibu catastrophe delayed its publication. The Woolsey Fire forced Guldimann to evacuate her Point Dume home. She then added a chapter on the fire “because I knew Malibu had changed,” she said. “I could see that things would never be quite the same again.” 

Now, as her passion project, she spent the last three years working on the sequel, “Life in Malibu II,” describing both books as a mix of local history and natural history, along with her photography, capturing the area’s beauty, and archival images. The books cover “important and fun history,” Guldimann said. “The more I learn about Malibu, the more I know there’s more to find out.” 

Guldimann disclosed two interesting reveals from the latest book from history and present day. During World War II, her beloved Point Dume was “hugely important” for the war effort. The author described a top-secret early warning radar system that now looks like an old-fashioned TV antenna. Back then it was state-of-the-art—so secret that when the war was over “they put all the records to bed classified.” 

Another fascinating find from a chapter entitled “Flotsam and Jetsam” was discovered by the author herself while combing Westward Beach. She found an odd two-inch creature called Phronima. It is entirely transparent and extremely rare. There have been only 10 sightings on the west coast—one of them is hers. 

“It’s almost never seen,” she said. “They say it might have been an inspiration for the Alien movies. It’s weird. I have lived here all my life and had never encountered anything like that before.” Photos are included in the book.

“We talk a lot about the wildland urban interface. There isn’t really a bigger one than the one between the land and the ocean and it’s right here at our back door of this amazing place. The [ocean is the] last greatest wilderness frontier on earth,” the 52-year-old commented.

Guldimann’s favorite place to be in Malibu is at the Point Dume headlands. Her late father, John Guldimann, a local jeweler, was one of the activists who worked to save the area from development, creating a nature preserve for its special habitat.  

“His dreams of a peaceful life by the ocean ended up being years of fighting the freeway, the nuclear power plant and the marina at Paradise Cove,” Guldimann reflected. “I always feel close to him there. It’s magical to have this wonderful, wild corner of California coast right in the heart of our city. It lifts my spirits.”

“Life in Malibu II” is available in late October. You can order it now on Amazon. It will also be for sale in Malibu at the Adamson House. For signed copies, reach out to the author on Instagram @Malibupost. To ease reported shipping delays before the holiday season, the author will deliver signed copies in the 90265 zip code.