I was born and reared in Mississippi; but for the last 6 years I have called Mobile, Alabama, home. Actually, I think of Mobile as “Home”; more so than where I grew up. I’m comfortable here, I belong here.
And I still have a fascination with the city…kinda like a tourist. I’ve talked to life-long natives of Mobile who have lost that sense of wonder at the historical sites of interest in the city, the events, the history that makes up Mobile. Luckily, I haven’t reached that cynicism that comes with living somewhere for so long that you stop noticing the things in your city.
So, I was thrilled when I was contacted by Turner Publishing from Nashville asking me to review a book about my city, Mobile, Alabama. Turner publishes a series of books focusing on historical photos of different cities across the USA. These books are suitable for coffee tables, local business office waiting rooms, and for those houses where books are strategically placed for interior design purposes.
BUT… “Historic Photos Of Mobile” is worth picking up and reading. Residents of the Gulf Coast can look into their past and experience some rich history through the photographs and commentary inside the book. And you don’t have to reside on the Gulf Coast to enjoy the photographs; the book arouses your curiosity about the city of history and makes you want to explore the city of today.
The book’s content begins in 1870 and carries the reader or researcher through to 1979. One critique of the book is that it ends too soon and abruptly with 1979, with no explanation as to why. However, the book shines with its small stories tucked away in the captions of the photos. I learned of John Fowler, an inventor at the turn of the 20th century who built his own airplanes in Mobile, and may have superseded the Wright Brothers in flight. I saw what may be my boss’s father on a Mardi Gras float in 1949, and I read about how a tunnel I travel through everyday was built.
“Historic Photos Of Mobile” was written and compiled by Carol Ellis and Scotty E. Kirkland, both Archivists at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. I had the chance to meet the authors at Bienville Books in Mobile last Friday for their book signing.
Many purchasers of the book, including myself, had a story to relate to the authors about a particular photograph in the book and the authors spoke at length asking as many questions as answering.
I did ask the authors about the ending of the book and was informed that the publishers stick to a particular style in the series and most of the books end similarly. I suppose as a city enters the 70s, it’s considered less and less historically significant. I guess those modern photos will be significant in another 50 years or so.
If you are a history buff, a resident of the Gulf Coast, or someone that enjoys those bygone days of yesteryear; take a visit back in time with “Historic Photos Of Mobile”