Book about Smithsburg leads to self-discovery

October 19, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

SMITHSBURG - It's the story of Small Town, America.

Teenagers grow up some place and dream of nothing more than to break free. Then, once they've moved far and experienced life as adults, they realize that there's no place like home.

For Smithsburg native Shay A. Mace, 33, writing "Images of America: Smithsburg" (Arcadia Publishing 2008) is what led to her own path to self-discovery.

"I guess in a sense, I've come full circle, to be able to come back home and really appreciate where I'm from," Mace said.


"Images of America: Smithsburg" hits stores Monday, Oct. 20. The book will be available at the Borders Books & Music on Garland Groh Boulevard west of Hagerstown and at the Book Cellar at the Prime Outlets of Hagerstown. Mace wrote the 128-page book with help from the Smithsburg Historical Society, which provided the photos and had the history behind most the photos - there are more than 100 snapshots.

The book homes in on Smithsburg's orchard history and has plenty of slice-of-life photos - like that of Charlie Slick Sr., photographed with the car he bought for $700 and paid for with pennies - and nods to the town's founder Christopher Smith and famous people who stopped in the town.

Mace said she did begin the project as a history buff. Mace was a Smithsburg native and a graduate of Smithsburg High School. Her interest was in theater, but she said she felt stifled. At the time, she didn't know Smithsburg had also been home to other creative types, like early 20th-century sculptor Emily Clayton Bishop. Work by Bishop are part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's collection.

"I used to want to get out of this town so badly," Mace said.

Mace graduated as a theater major from Frostburg State University and then moved to New York City for graduate school. After doing the whole New York City theater experience and receiving a master's degree in theater from Long Island University, Mace moved to Berlin, Md., near Ocean City to be a library manager.

"I didn't have a job right away, on graduation day," Mace said. "So for me, I thought, I have enough money to last for about a month. Do I want to take a temp job and maybe be able to work and live for about a month, then not know what's going to happen? Or should I take this position and know that I'm going to have a paycheck and see what comes with it?"

The idea to do the book came after Arcadia Publishing released a book about Berlin, Md. She said she e-mailed the publishers to find out whether a book had been done on Smithsburg.

The response, she said was, "No. Why don't you do it?"

So, Mace started the project in late summer of 2007 and finished by May 2008. In the meantime, she moved back to Smithsburg and enrolled in the graduate-level teaching program at Frostburg State University, taking classes at University Of Maryland System at Hagerstown.

"It's been great to come back home this year. I think I'm at a point in my life where I just kind of need to feel my family roots around me. And working on this book has really been able to put me in touch with where I come from."

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