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Published: Wednesday, 12/13/2006

History comes alive in book on Sylvania

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Authors Gaye Gindy, left, and Trini Wenninger examine copies of their book, 'Sylvania,' at a book signing last week in Sylvania. Authors Gaye Gindy, left, and Trini Wenninger examine copies of their book, 'Sylvania,' at a book signing last week in Sylvania.
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In 1933, Maynard Giles Cosgrove, a local historian in Sylvania, put the past, present, and future in perspective.

"The town pumps the pigs, the taverns, the mud in summer and bobsleds in winter, are all gone. It needs another hundred years to point out the things we have with us today that are important or trivial, tragic or funny. We are too close to judge."

Now, several decades later, the city's history comes to life in a just-published book, aptly titled Sylvania.

Gaye Gindy and Trini Wenninger, Sylvania residents who are authors and historians, spent months working on the book. They sifted through hundreds of photographs; they researched homes, historic places, landmarks, buildings, maps, deeds, and census records.

Although the book's photographs are in black and white, the city's personality comes through in living color.

Ms. Gindy, a native of Sylvania, and Ms. Wenninger, who has lived in the city for four years, worked independently throughout the week while they were putting the book together, and they met on the weekends to combine their efforts.

Much of their work centered around archival collections at the Sylvania Heritage Center Museum on Main Street - the museum is located right next door to the home where Ms. Gindy lived when she was growing up.

"Most of the photographs in the book came from the Sylvania Area Historical Society," said Ms. Gindy, who is the administrative secretary to the chief of police in Sylvania. She is a member of the Friends of the Lathrop House and serves on the Sylvania Historical Village Commission's board. There are so many more photographs in the historical society's collections that Ms. Gindy predicts that the authors might soon launch Sylvania, Volume II.

Ms. Gindy and Ms. Wenninger credited Polly Cooper, a volunteer at the historical society's museum, for making their jobs easier.

"She keeps the records here and knows where everything is. She was here with us every Saturday helping out," Ms. Gindy said.

The authors, who are both members of the Sylvania Area Historical Society, began working on the book about a year ago after Ms. Wenninger, who has a college degree in history, decided that she would compile a history of the city. Ms. Wenninger is a history buff, and has written historical booklets. She is a member of several Laura Ingalls Wilder memorial societies. Her booklets are available in Laura Ingalls Wilder gift shops.

"We wanted to do this because we love Sylvania history," said Ms. Wenninger.

Other than a history book from 1933, little has been written about Sylvania's history, they said.

"When Trini said that she would do the book, I said that I would help," said Ms. Gindy, who has been collecting local history information for 30 years. "My goal is to write history books about Sylvania and fill one shelf with them at the library."

Sylvania was finished in October, and in recent weeks the authors have been signing and selling the publication.

Some stores in downtown Sylvania stock the books for sale to the public.

The historical society has purchased 200 of the books, proceeds from the sale of which will go toward preservation efforts, the authors said.

About 125 pages of the book are devoted to "little bits of everything. We tried to do broad strokes," said Ms. Gindy.

The city's early days, its railroads, business and industry, government and education, sports, family life, and connections to the Underground Railroad and to wars are highlighted through photographs and text.

After spending so much time researching the city, "we've become fond of many of the names mentioned throughout the book. I wish I could have met some of the people who lived here in days past," Ms. Wenninger said. "I would have enjoyed seeing A.R. Chandler's garden. I would have liked to have walked along Main Street when the blacksmith shop was there, hearing the clanging of his tools."

Sylvania is a fascinating look at a city that has been home to gypsies and farmers; merchants who sold cream separators, and a funeral home that advertised in 1959 its custom-designed ambulance with a "radio-telephone, inhalator, resuscitator and aspirator, along with a host of innovations for the comfort and security of the patients on long trips."

Check out page 56 to learn about a bank holdup by Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd or turn to page 17 to read about a 20-mile-long parade that was held in 1926 to celebrate - get this - the official opening of the newly paved Monroe Street.

"The cost of paving Monroe Street, from Central Avenue in Toledo to Main Street in Sylvania, was over $1 million and was nicknamed the 'Million Dollar Highway,'•" the authors noted.



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