Collection of old photos displayed at library

August 05, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A back room of the Waynesboro library is crammed with more than 400 photographs, some taken before the turn of the century, that depict in black and white much of the history of the community.

The display, which runs through August at the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library, is only a sample of old photographs gathered up over 60 years by Bob Ringer of Waynesboro.

Ringer, 75, known as a local historian, has been collecting photos about Waynesboro since he was 15. Some are his own. Most were loaned so he could make copies. So far, he has amassed a collection of more than 5,000, including 1,000 that he has framed.


"My attic is full," he said.

About a third of his collection is stored in the library. Deciding which photos to put into such a display can take weeks, he said.

His displays also have been shown at the local historical society and in Greencastle, Pa., and Chambersburg, Pa.

"The only thing I know about old photographs is that if you put them out, people will look at them and enjoy them," Ringer said.

A half-dozen people were in the library Friday afternoon studying Ringer's display. Many were older residents. They grouped in front of the photos trying through collective memories to recognize faces and scenes captured decades ago.

The library display was set up to help kick off Waynesboro's two-month-long 200th anniversary celebration that officially gets under way Thursday. Waynesboro will officially become the seat of the government of Franklin County for the day.

Ringer groups his photos into categories. His favorite subject is the Frick Co., a local plant that once made farm equipment and machinery, sawmill machinery and refrigeration equipment which it still manufactures. Ringer rescued many of his Frick photos, scorched and soaked, from the debris left by flames and water from a 1988 fire at the plant.

His collection also includes groups of action photos from the Waynesboro Fire Department; other local factories, including some long-gone like the Geiser Plant, which also made heavy farm equipment; and local sports, including the Waynesboro Tigers semi-pro football team.

"I also collect stamps and old license plates," he said.

Ringer grew up on Lincoln Avenue in the shadow of the Frick plant's 100-foot-high water tower. Once, when he was 15, he climbed the tower in a show of bravado. He froze in fear at the top and made his way back down "by keeping my eyes closed," he said. "I climbed it because it was there to do."

Ringer, a Marine Corps veteran who saw combat on Guadalcanal in World War II, has co-authored three books in recent years with Carl V. Besore, 85, of Waynesboro. Ringer's photos form the basis of the books.

The men's research produced a long narrative describing the scene, the subjects and circumstances of each photo.

The books, titled "Reflection of the History of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania and Vicinity," are nearly sold out, library officials said.

They sell for $25 each and can be bought at the library.

The Herald-Mail Articles