As Told by Lydia Kimball
Lydia Kimball had no idea when she began collecting sea glass in Alaska that the most precious thing she would find on the beach was not sea glass at all.
She was introduced to sea glass by her daughter-in-law, Amy. When Amy was only yet dating Lydia’s son, she’d come to Lydia’s home in Kodiak, Alaska from Lydia’s own home state, Oklahoma. Out and about one day, enjoying the sights and sounds of Kodiak Island, Amy visited the beach with Lydia’s kids. They visited Mission Beach, known to have been affected by the 1964 earthquake that rocked parts of Alaska, when tsunamis and seismic sea waves destroyed so much of the towns and landscape. Amy and the kids returned to Lydia that day with a fistful of colorful glass from the beach, which Lydia thought looked like gems.
Sea glass? Lydia had never heard of it.
“Wow! One Iook and I was hooked!” Lydia remembers. And she’s been a sea glass addict ever since, collecting thousands of pieces by now. Lydia is 46 years old, and living with the early onset Parkinson’s disease. To her, beachcombing is therapeutic, and she is thankful to God for every day she can be out beachcombing. Having grown up in Oklahoma, it was only in 2008 that Lydia and her husband and their four children and two dogs moved first to the Anchorage area before settling in 2014 in Kodiak. “Loving the ocean is an under-statement, and experiencing Kodiak has been a great adventure!” says Kimball.
“My favorite finds have come from Jewel Beach located in Kodiak on the U.S. Coast Guard base. I believe I have found just about every color of the spectrum there. Not only glass but pottery, shell casings, and many other unique things can be found here. We have been told it was a World War II dump back in the day. With all the military and Russian presence, it makes for a very intriguing search!”
Two years ago, Lydia’s regular beachcombing routine yielded a most intriguing find indeed. While out combing Jewel Beach with Amy’s mom, Lisa, Lydia spotted something shiny along the shore. Upon closer inspection, she realized it was an old dog tag.
Lydia was thrilled to find something of such momentous worth, and even more so because she had found the dog tag over the Memorial Day weekend. Immediately upon returning home that day, she posted her find on her own Facebook page, and on a sea glass lovers’ group page. Sadly, she discovered that while Harold Loveless had indeed been stationed in Alaska on Kodiak Island as a deep-sea diver during WWII, he had died in 2009.
But Kimball didn’t give up there. She noted in the obituary there was a surviving daughter and hurriedly searched, found, and reached out to her. Pam Waren, Loveless’ daughter was thrilled to get the phone call from Kimball, and even happier to have her father’s dog tag returned, as Kimball very quickly put it in the mail.
Lydia Kimball was quick to point out the strange luck that had her, a relative newcomer to Alaska and beachcombing, find the memento from so long ago of another soul transplanted from Oklahoma to Alaska. Harold Loveless, himself, was from Perry, Oklahoma, and his daughter Pam, to whom Lydia had sent the dog tag, resided in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Even more coincidental, Lydia believed, was that her husband, Cary—like Harold Loveless—was a Navy man.
“I marvel!” said Kimball. “Sea glass collecting has made me some new friends about 4000 miles away that connect me with the state of Oklahoma that I grew up in. This hobby of mine is a great part of what it means to be alive!”
This article appeared in the Glassing Magazine September 2017 issue.