Pam Montgomery holding a copy of her book entitled #GarrettsvilleStrong
Pam Montgomery holding a copy of her book entitled #GarrettsvilleStrong Past, Present & Future

Garrettsville – Cruise through the past, present and future with #GarrettsvilleStrong author Pamela Montgomery during the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Summer Car Cruise. The festivities will be Saturday, August 22 at Garfield Plaza, 3-8pm, featuring live music by Blue Cadillac and Dennis Chandler, raffle drawings, and hundreds of classic and collectible automobiles on display… plus a #GarrettsvilleStrong book-signing at Dairy Queen with Montgomery, hosted by the James A. Garfield Historical Society.

Montgomery was inspired to compile a book of photographs and a historical record of Garrettsville in the aftermath of the March 2014 fire which destroyed the Buckeye Block on the north side of Main Street. She spent countless hours in the historical society building and  library, and with Garrettsville natives to reconstruct the history of the Buckeye Block for the first section of the book.

Following the historical chapter is “Main Street is on Fire,”with a timeline and photographs from retired firefighter/current fire department photographer Rich Teresi, who documented the awful progression of that historic fire from beginning to end. Chapter 3 is “We Salute You,” which lists every emergency response unit and known individual which responded to Garrettsville’s call for help that dreary day. Thank yous from area newspapers, downtown business owners and community leaders are reprinted here. Even photographs of cards and posters created by school children and hung by residents in store windows and on the security fence around the Buckeye Block in the aftermath of the fire appear on these pages.

In Chapter 4, Montgomery offers “Thanks for the Memories,” with personal recollections of bygone days in downtown Garrettsville shared by family members of those who owned the Root Store, Chic & Shabby, Garrettsville Hardware, Irwin’s Hardware, One Real Peach, and Miller’s Lawn & Garden.

Memories shared by dozens of past and present Garrettsville residents were written in to The Villager newspaper or were shared orally with Montgomery, and they reappear in this chapter. “The tragic Main Street fire last weekend in Garrettsville just took a big chunk of my childhood away,” wrote Thomas Dyer, now of Amarillo, Texas. “I guess you don’t really know the good foundations of life you’ve had until they are suddenly taken away. Seeing photos of the blaze brought back a flood of old memories from a childhood gone by…” After recalling specific people and places of his childhood in the 1960s and 1970s, Dyer closes his letter thusly:  “It’s okay to cry a little, Garrettsville… You will rebuild and make a new Main Street again. But don’t be ashamed to pause and reflect on those halcyon days from your past. Always remember the good and try to forget the bad, and move on.”

The final chapter of the book, “Recovery,” brings us up to date with reports, fundraisers, prayer gatherings and progress made toward the goal of eventually rebuilding the Buckeye Block. The final text is a reprint of an anthem by C.B.D., “My Garrettsville,” which appeared in the Garrettsville Journal in July 1924.

“O Garrettsville whene’er we roam

From sea to shining sea,

Back to thee, Mother dear, we come

In loving loyalty…”

Montgomery moved to the Nelson-Garrettsville area from Galion in 1988 with her husband and is a retired nurse (LPN). She chuckles that her only qualifications for writing a book are from scrapbooking. Her love for this community and her respect for history proved to be her motivation, and now she plans to compile a historical record of the opposite (south) side of Main Street for the historical society.

Five hundred copies of the 192-page memory book were published by Villager Printing, featuring a dramatic cover photograph by Jill Brock Mong of a colorful fireworks display at Village Park with the village water tower in silhouette again the dark sky. Get your autographed copy before they are all sold out.

Each book sells for $25, with proceeds going to the Garrettsville Strong Fund. The book is available at The Villager Emporium or the Villager Bookstore, both on Main Street. If you would like the book mail-ordered, include an extra $3.50 per book and send your order to: Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 1, Garrettsville, OH 44231. All checks are payable to the Garrettsville Area Chamber of Commerce.