I’ve been to bookstores lots of times in California and was always glad to see a series of books displayed about the local towns, be they small or large. The series I am taking about have a sepia tone, they always the same size and the top has in large yellowish letter on black ground the name of the town it talks about. Until recently though I haven’t actually took any of them off their shelves and didn’t pay a closer attention to them. I was just satisfied with the knowledge that when and if I want to learn more about a particular locale I will be able to do with the help of these books.
When I returned from a European trip a few weeks ago I found one of these volumes at home. I still didn’t ask whether we bought or got it, but was happy to “read” it. It is about the village we moved to last year: Forestville. I had put “reading” in quotation mark, because I realized that less reading is involved in this book than with others, because it is a picture book. Now I also know that the title of the series is “Images of America” by Arcadia Publishing and each volume contains almost exclusively photographs, with explanatory captions.
This volume opens with a half a page acknowledgments and continues with a one and a half page introduction. The latter paints the history of the village from 1846 to 1962 with a big brush, just mentioning the key people, families and events in its short history. Then the pictures are organized around 8 themes, not necessarily chronologically: El Molino, Changing money, Early settlers, Making spirits, saving souls, Training minds, Wheels and rails, and Playground for San Francisco. The length of these se chapters varies between 6 and 24 pages.
I had a swell time paging through this volume. The pictures themselves cannot tell their stories, so the captions help. Sometimes they did tell a short story, other times we barely learned the names of the people shown. I also paid attention at the end of the captions: courtesy of… I kept thanking mentally the people who kept these photographs and allowed to be used for this volume.
Finally I want to thank Penny Huston, the founder of the Forestville Historical Society and the author of this book. Thanks to her I have a sense of the history of the place I am living, even though I don’t know many locals. Yet.