Pictures help tell Waynesboro's story

December 02, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - David W. Thompson and a handful of volunteer researchers pored through hundreds of old photographs from the 1850s to the 1990s to come up with the 219 they selected for "Around Waynesboro," the Waynesboro Historical Society's newest publication.

Thompson, who works in the display advertising department of The Herald-Mail Co., and is a historical society member, spent Saturdays all summer plus some nights and vacation days in the second-floor library of the society's headquarters at 138 W. Main St. Many of the photos Thompson and his volunteers searched through are stored there, among them the massive collection compiled over the years by the late Robert L. Ringer of Waynesboro.

Other sources for the photographic review of Waynesboro's history, architecture, industry and people came from the collections of Charles Besecker and Sylvester Snyder. Newer pictures for the 128-page book were provided by Sid Miller, Marie Lanser Beck, Dan Arthur and Pat Brezler.


Captions describe the photos, important dates and - where possible - identification of the people in them.

Thompson said he spent about 300 hours researching the photos and writing the captions. In addition, volunteers worked another 250 hours doing the same thing, he said.

The book was published in England by Arcadia Publishing as part of its "Images of America" series. According to the publisher, the series, through the use of archival photographs, celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns and cities across the country.

"It seemed like every little town my wife, Joyce, and I went through in our travels there were books like this," Thompson said. "I saw no reason why Waynesboro shouldn't have one, too."

He contacted Arcadia Publishing and learned what was needed for a book on Waynesboro.

The historical society did not need up-front money. The publishing company pays all printing, promotional and marketing costs, Thompson said. The company also controls where the books are sold.

Arcadia printed 1,500 books, said Andrea Struble, a member of the historical society's board of directors. They came out last week and are available in several local stores and at the Historical Society for $19.99 each.

"Many people who came in to buy one last week have come back for a second book," Struble said. She said the society has sold about 175 copies so far.

Dru Cairns, owner of Dru's Books 'n Things in the Wayne Heights Mall, said they came in last week. "They're selling like hotcakes," she said.

The books also are available locally at Savage Family Pharmacy at 604 E. Main St. They're selling well there too, said store Manager Stacey Clever.

Thompson divided the book into eight chapters that touch on the industry, architecture, celebrations, recreation, Main Street life plus the Mont Alto, Pa., and Quincy, Pa., areas.

The book's cover features a 1947 photo taken inside the Waynesboro News Agency on West Main Street. All nine people in the photo are identified.

Thompson said identifying people was the hardest part of his research. "Placing dates on the photos was also difficult. Sometimes I just used circa," he said.

All of Snyder's photos are dated, which made his work easier, he said.

In the industrial section of the book, an 1885 photo shows four Frick Co. workers standing behind a large sheet of ice, proof that the company produced ice that was so clear it could be seen through.

Posed in a 1904 photo are workers who made up the pattern shop at Landis Tool Co.

In the people section of the book, titled "Faces of Waynesboro," the first photo, taken in 1937, shows ice cream vendor John Rossi scooping out treats for two little girls. Cones sold for 1 cent and 5 cents.

Another shot shows the 1908 Waynesboro High School girls basketball team.

That section also holds the book's oldest photo. Taken in 1850, it shows Gen. James Bourns, also spelled Burns, and his grandson. Bourns served in the War of 1812.

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