by Carmen Doyle
It’s only 23 days until Christmas! Time to get shopping! There are few better presents than a book, and the History Center has several options for the readers on your list.
The ACPL recently had an author fair, with several local authors. One author was Carol Butler, who wrote Genois Wilson, firefighter: she dared to be first about the career of Fort Wayne’s first female firefighter. The book tells of what inspired Wilson to become a firefighter- her three year old sister had been badly burned when the firefighters were not able to make it to her house on time. The illustrations by Teresa Yarbrough are wonderful, detailed and colorful. As a bonus, the books available at the History Center are signed by both author and illustrator! If you have a budding firefighter on your Christmas list, this book is great, (and you could also pair it with some of the firefighting toys available at the History Center)
You can also check out our blog for more information on firefighters in Fort Wayne: http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/04/as-good-fire-laddie-as-many-of-boys.html
Another author at the fair was Margaret Hobson, who wrote The Iron Men of Indiana’s 44th Regiment, Part I: Biographies and Regimental Statistics, and Part 2: Formation and photos. These books are chock-full of details about the regiment and the soldiers in it. There are so many details it can be overwhelming, but if you have Civil War buffs on your Christmas list, these books have the most in-depth information on a regiment there is.
If you are going to buy someone a book, there’s no better holiday book than Wolf & Dessauer: Where Fort Wayne Shopped. As every Fort Wayne resident is aware, W&D was the most magical Christmas place EVER. The Santa and Wreath that are the biggest part of Lighting Night were originally from W&D. The book has interviews with many of the people involved in setting up the window displays and the Christmas displays. A great interview is the one with Phil Steirgwald, known as the Santa of Fort Wayne. (You can see his Santa suit on display during the Festival of Gingerbread.)
Also on display are the elves and animatronic dolls from the W&D windows. You can also go online to the History Center and see the virtual exhibit on Wolf & Dessauer, which includes photos of Wee Willie WanD.
It’s not too early to start thinking about the Mather lectures coming up in 2015. In January, Marsha Wright will be here to talk about her mother, Margaret Ringenberg. Marsha wrote a book on her mother’s experiences as one of the WASP (Women Air Service Pilots) during WWII, called Maggie Ray: World War II Air Force Pilot. There is also a DVD based on the book, Wings for Maggie Ray. You can find more information about Maggie Ray and the WASPs on our blog: http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2013/10/maggie-ray-wasp.html
And don’t forget the previous Mather lectures- in October Robert Matzen spoke about his book Fireball: Carole Lombard and the Mystery of Flight 3. This book is full of wonderful details and quotes from Carole, a lot of which seem like they would be endlessly copied in People and other celebrity magazines. The History Center has a few copies left- and all are signed! You can also see a few photos on Facebook of items that belonged to Carole: https://www.facebook.com/medi/set/?set=a.10152670381740935.1073741931.281783120934&type=1.
Watching Carole’s movies might seem like more fun, but when your TV is being dominated by football, this book is better. Because who doesn’t love celebrities?
And if you’re a sports fan, but not necessarily wanting to watch them on TV, check out Fort Wayne Sports History by Blake Sebring. It’s set up like a calendar- every day has a different memorable local sports event. For example, on November 28,"1890 an indoor baseball doubleheader is held at the Princess Rink.” Sebring then tells what the Princess Rink was and how an indoor baseball game was different than an outdoor one. (Less than 90 feet between the bases, for one.)
“Also, in 2003, Harding loses a wild shootout for the Class 2A state title to Tri-West 41-36.”- football.
In November, the Mather lecture was on Clarence Cornish, one of the earliest Fort Wayne pilots. “Cap” Cornish, Indiana Pilot: Navigating the Century of Flight” details not only the early history of commercial aviation, it tells how a local pilot from Fort Wayne – “Cap” Cornish affected aviation policy across the nation. For more information, check out our blog: http://historycenterfw.blogspot.com/2014/10/cap-cornish.html
And if you have an aviation fan on your Christmas list, you could also get them Art Smith: Pioneer Aviator or Fort Wayne Aviation: Baer Field and Beyond. Fort Wayne Aviation is from the Images of America series, so it’s full of wonderful pictures related to early flight.
For something really unique, get them Spinning through Clouds: Tales from an early Hoosier Aviator. Of course, you can always visit the History Center and look at the aviation display on the second floor- and see Art Smith’s goggles and medals for yourself.
If you have a quilter on your list, get them A Communion of the Spirits, which has interviews from quilters, telling about what quilting means to them. There are not a lot of detailed photos of the quilts in the book, so check out our online exhibit on quilts: http://www.fwhistorycenter.com/vex8/index.htm
Of course the best book in the gift shop is the History of Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana 1700-2005. This two volume set has answers (or at least a good start) on everything in Fort Wayne. If the answer to your Fort Wayne question is not in the set, then either it didn’t happen or it’s happened since 2005.
And the BEST gift to give (or get) for Christmas? Membership at the History Center! (Or the Museum Dream Membership, which is membership not only in the History Center, but the Botanical Conservatory and Science Central.) As a bonus, when you buy a new membership to the History Center, you can get a FREE copy of Frontier Faith: The Story of the Pioneer Congregations of Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1820-1860. This book covers every religion and church, and explains why Fort Wayne really is “The City of Churches”
The Festival of Gingerbread runs through December 14. When you visit, why not by a few gifts....for others PLUS yourself!