Sept. 15, 2011, OBHS Presented Richard Carrico: Then They Turn Into Stones Again: San Diego’s Neglected Naturalist Author: Judy Van Der Veer of Ramona
Born in 1912, Judy Van Der Veer spent her early teenage years in a house just below Banker’s Hill in San Diego, rode horses from Mission Valley to Ocean Beach, snuck into a hangar to see one of Lindberg’s new planes, dropped out of high school after her junior year, and lived most of her adult life as a rancher-writer in Ramona, CA. She won her first poetry contest when she was sixteen with the poem Little Woodland God, which has been continuously reprinted in poetry collections and anthologies. She published her first book when she was twenty-four and went on to write more than 5 adult books including My Valley in the Sky and 6 very popular children’s books including Hold the Rein Free.
Before her death in 1982, Van Der Veer wrote more than 500 articles that appeared in publications including Westways, the christian Science Monitor, the San Diego Union, Poetry Magazine, and San diego Magazine. In her time, Judy Van Der Veer was noted for her advocacy of animal rights, fought to preserve habitats, was sympathetic to marginalized Indian and Mexican people, and was known as an ecologist before the term came into common usage. Often compared to John Steinbeck and Willa Cather, Van Der Veer’s minimalist, naturalistic works are largely forgotten in the twenty-first century.