I, like many people, am familiar with Arcadia Press and their Images of America series. Arcadia currently has over 6,500 title in the series.
Basically, local authors and historians gather photos and stories. Working with Arcadia, they assemble the book. Then Arcadia handles the printing and some promotion. I have seen several of the books – my hometown of Chicopee has one – and they are pretty interesting. (Full disclosure: I am bit of a history nut.)
I got excited one day while shopping at BJ’s, when I noticed they had an Images of America – Auburn book. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, it was about Auburn, NY. A minor ordering oversight there, I suppose.
Anyway, my recent visit to the Auburn Historical Museum (story) coincided with the release of the Auburn, MA Images of America release. After my thoroughly entertaining tour with curator Sari Bitticks, I realized I really couldn’t leave without buying a book. I happened to have exactly $22 in cash, which I took to be a good omen. It was.
As I started thumbing through the book, I found myself transported back in time. I wasn’t just imagining what my neighborhood might have looked like in 1916, I had photographs showing me what it looked like. I had not idea there was a trolley station less than 100 yards from my front door!
I didn’t mean to, but I spent almost two hours with the book. I am glad I did, too, because once my kids got home and I showed it to them, it disappeared. My three oldest sat huddled around the book like kids looking through the Sears Christmas catalog. I couldn’t wrestle it away until they finally went off to bed. (Full disclosure: I have turned them into a little bit of history nuts, too.)
So many people worked tirelessly to create this book, I can’t list them all here for fear of leaving anyone out. They are all listed at the beginning of the book, however, and each of them deserves our thanks. For those of us from ‘away’, this work is an invaluable contribution to preserving the rich history and memories of the town that we now call home.
The written and visual history provided in this book is well worth the price. It might be the biggest bargain around right now. A copy belongs in every home and school and office waiting room in Auburn. Without question, this book needs to be integrated into the Auburn Schools local history curriculum. I really am being completely serious about this. Buy this book. Read it. Enjoy the photos. You will never look at Drury Square the same way again.
You can buy the book online at Amazon or from the publisher at www.arcadiapublishing.com. But the very best thing you can do is on Saturday, between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm, go to the Historical Museum at 41 South St. and buy a copy in person. Take an hour and tour the museum (which is free). Bring $22; they don’t take credit cards. Really, you owe it to yourself.