Did you know the west side of the square in Garnett had an underground city accessible from the sidewalk — under the regular stores — where any vice was available? Or that the bustling city of Garnett once was called “Little Chicago”?
These stories and more are featured in the book, “That’s the Way it was, By Golly,” a narrative by historian Ed Fink that was compiled by Wilma Powls.
Evert “Ed” Fink was 89 when he died. His obituary read that “he was an accomplished musician and cartoonist and was a charter member of the Anderson County Historical Society.” Fink was a barber who owned his own shop in Garnett for more than 30 years. He told many stories while cutting hair. His interest in history, coupled with his knowledge of the locals, made him a gold mine of local fact and legend. Fink has many stories about the first settlers to Kansas, interactions with the indigenous people, Kansas’ fight to become a free state, how wars and illnesses affected local residents, how Pretty Boy Floyd and his brother lived and worked in the Garnett area and much more.
Wilma Powls and her husband recorded Fink in their home. She then transcribed the stories and compiled them into “That’s the Way it Was, By Golly.” Powls will be at the library noon to 2 p.m. Feb. 21 in room 103. Please stop in and meet her and hear some of the interesting stories of the local area. You might want to bring your lunch and brown bag it with us. We have a copy of her book ordered and it should be at the library shortly. Powls plans to bring more copies of her book when she comes.
Other book discussions at the library in the next few weeks include the Kansas Reads Choice Book, “Then We Came to the End,” by Joshua Ferris. This book is a humorous look at corporate life during the good times and the bad. The theme ties into “The Way We Worked,” a Smithsonian traveling exhibit coming in late March to Baldwin City. We will discuss the book at 7 p.m. Feb. 25.
Our TALK book series will begin again at 10:30 a.m. March 7. The books already are at the library. We will discuss three stories from the Childhood Classics series. The first book discussion will be led by scholar Deborah Peterson. We will talk about “A Little Princess,” by Frances Hodges-Burnett. In it, 10-year-old Sara Crewe had everything — fancy clothes, her own maid — until a tragic misfortune left her penniless, but rich in friendship and imagination. We are reading children stories as adults. Today, the childhood classics have just as much, if not more, to say to us as adults. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Wind in the Willows” also are available for check out behind the circulation desk.
Lisa Slavin is an adult programming librarian at the Ottawa Library.