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New book looks at Ceres
It's rare when a town get its own book issued by a national publishing company.

Ceres has now one.

Arcadia Publishing Company's "Images of America" series focuses on Ceres as its latest project. Known for its local history books bearing sepia- toned photo covers, and written by local authors, Arcadia released the Ceres book on Monday.

The 128-page book - comprised of 200 photos and seven introductory chapter pages - was authored by yours truly. This book project was a labor of love. I'm fascinated by old photos of buildings and people that were once here but gone today. They tell a story. For example, the very spot where the Courier offices are today was once the parking lot for the Ceres Police Department and my book has a photo of a vintage cop car sitting on the same spot of ground.

I believe this book will instill a sense of pride in Ceres residents when they realize how rich their town's history really is. I discovered things in my research that blew me away. The book introduces some fascinating people, such as blacksmith George Averill who met Abraham Lincoln before he came to Ceres. There's Judge John Gondring who always wore a rose in his lapel as he walked from his home on Whitmore Avenue to his Fourth Street court room.

The book also offers a perspective on life itself. The same ground we tread upon was once used by movers and shakers and common folk who've all passed. Since very few people today can remember who they were, it's an experience that reminds us of the poignant passage in Psalm 103: "As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more."

My book, in some small ways, attempts to preserve their story and their faces.

Arcadia contacted me in the fall about the possibility of a Ceres book. I jumped at the opportunity because I have appreciated the Arcadia format. In 2008 I first saw their products while browsing a Niles Canyon store. I found the books were fascinating and do well in preserving local history. There were four months of calls and visits to make and a lot of persevering when I felt frustration. Then I had to determine which photos stayed and which were cut since I accumulated too many and was limited on size. But there was a payoff: A book! Nobody has gathered as many historical photos of Ceres under one cover.

"Ceres," the book, covers Ceres from its inception to more recent times. Chapters cover Ceres' agricultural beginnings, the development of the community, schools and churches, those who went to war, police officers and firefighters, and some of Ceres' famous residents, including Cliff Barrows and Gary Condit.

Much of the photographic material in the book has not seen before. Until now, nobody has ever published a photo of the lovely woman who gave Ceres its name, yet on page 8 there is Elma Carter in her prime. The school teacher was the daughter of Levi Carter, one of the first settlers of the Ceres region. The hair style of her brother, Stanton Carter, is a must-see on page 10. He became an attorney and judge. My personal favorites include the photo of Wanda and Bruce Hosmer riding one tricycle on page 28. The 1924 shot is adorable. Perhaps the most dramatic photo is the baptism photo on page 73 of Harry Oeth of Ceres raising his hands to God, his mouth agape, as he is about to be dunked in the waters of the Tuolumne River.

Photos used in the book were provided by numerous longtime Ceres residents as well as the city of Ceres, the Courier and the Ceres Historical Society. I dedicated the book to Ceres historians Mildred Lucas and Phil Reynders.

Lots of Ceres people assisted in the book endeavor and they are acknowledged in the book. Ruth Simpson, for example, supplied the cover shot: A very 1950s nostalgic photo of the Burger 19, a Ceres eatery that once served six-for-a-dollar burgers on the old highway 99 before the modern freeway wiped away much of downtown. Ruth was the one inside the building flipping burgers and many today remember the popular hangout.

Fifty copies of the book will be available for purchase in the first scheduled book signing event, to be held at the Courier office, 2940 Fourth Street, Ceres, from 5:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26. The book (ISBN #978-0-7385-8101-9) retails for $21.99 plus tax and is available at a number of Ceres stores. It's also available at Arcadia's website at