Dale Larabee | Larabee’s Lowdown
In 1975, Deralyn and John Kaheny wanted to live in Kensington. They eyed the perfect house on Roxbury Drive, but real estate prices were spiking, and they worried their bid on their dream house was too low. They went to Roxbury to hear if theirs was the highest bid. It was! As Deralyn left their new home on the way to her car, she looked down at the sidewalk and read, “O.U. Miracle.” She smiled. It was her miracle. Mr. Miracle extended his welcome to Kensington.
O.U. Miracle has his name stamped on sidewalks all over Kensington and beyond. I have noticed them since I moved here. I lighten up reading his positive message. I often find myself looking for inspiration at my feet more than the stars. Mr. Miracle sends a message to me. I am special.
If you look down enough as you wander the sidewalks of Uptown, you’ll see a number of others who have installed sidewalks: “E.W. Pelton Builder,” “Knight & Hyde,” “L.B. Penick and Sons” and “Carl Woosley 1924” to name a few — all I’m sure good at what they did, but no miracles here.
Orville Ullman Miracle is a name so unusual that he was mentioned in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Letters written simply to “O.U. Miracle, USA” were delivered straight to him in California. Miracle was born 1871 in Neehah, Wisconsin and lived in Montana before moving to California. He worked in San Diego and Rolando Beach, but eventually settled in Oceanside in 1938.
My search led me to Jenny Dowling, whose grandfather was a job supervisor of O.V. Miracle. She told me O.U. had lived Minneapolis and used to “winter in California.” He is listed in the 1903 Minneapolis City Directory as President of Miracle Pressed Stone Company. Ms. Dowling tells me that Miracle had to repeatedly hock and later retrieve diamonds off his wife Grace when he needed cash to make payroll between contracts.
“He did this not in a reckless way but only to support his men and their families,” Dowling told me.
He was reported to have partnered with well-known local architect Cliff May, but I couldn’t find that much ever came of it. He had started a project to create a family subdivision before it was dragged under by the Depression. Ms. Dowling told me O.U. died in Oceanside in 1949. He was 78.
I enjoyed the search for Mr. Miracle, but I don’t have to go far to find him. O.U. Miracle is right across the street in front of my neighbor’s house, then when I take a right on Van Dyke and more times before I find coffee on Adams Avenue. O.U. is a wonderful friend, for each time I see him, he greets me as though I am someone unique. Many days, I need that reminder.