Muskegon is now part of Images of America series with photographic record of local history

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By Cynthia Price
Legal News

The history and everyday life of Muskegon are reflected in the book Images of America: Muskegon, written by two authors who are currently living in Grand Haven.

The 127-page book makes no claim to being a comprehensive pictorial history, but that is part of what  makes it quirky and interesting.
 
Said Norma Lewis, co-author with Christine Nyholm, “It’s very much a question of what you can get the photographic support of. If you have two possible topics to cover, you take the one with the better picture. There’s so much and that’s the best way to narrow it down.”

Nyholm and Lewis have been friends since they worked together in the 1980s, so they collaborate easily. Nyholm says that their rough organization tool was to split up research on the chapters (which include “The Early Years,” “From Lumber Queen to Port City,” “Commerce and Industry,” “ Churches and Schools,” and “Everyday Life in Muskegon”).
 
But, Nyholm adds, there were also some places where their research methods made them overlap. “I’m more into the online research stuff.” Nyholm says. But she feels that when it came down to it, the work on the book was split more or less in half.

All of Nyholm’s publications, prior to now, have been online. She stresses that she is not a blogger, but writes articles that appear on a number of online sites (including examiner.com, which has no affiliation with this publication).

Originally from Wisconsin, Nyholm has lived in several places around the Midwest, including Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Her previous career was in sales, and prior to that she did layout with a print company.

Lewis, who said she had a “mediocre business career,” has published 15 books, and eight of them have been with the publisher of Images of America: Muskegon, Arcadia Publishing.

They include Images of America: Grand Rapids and Lost Restaurants of Grand Rapids. About the latter, she said, “I was very pleased with the results from Lost Restaurants. They asked me to write about ‘wild woman of Grand Rapids,’ but I
didn’t think there was enough there. So I made a different proposal.” The result was Wild Women of Michigan: A History of Spunk and Tenacity.

Lewis collaborated on Legendary Locals of Grand Rapids and two other Arcadia titles with her late husband, Jay DeVries.
Arcadia Publishing’s book offerings are numerous and interesting. The company specializes in hyper-local history and stories that are very specific to a given place.

In addition to the Images of America series, there are “Wicked” books (Wicked Ottawa County, by Amberrose Hammond, has been featured in the Examiner before); true crime titles such as The Hanging and Redemption of John Gordon and The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia (it took place in 1932); and “Hidden History,” of such widely diverse places as Cape Cod, Milwaukee and Portland, Ore.

Nyholm points out that just writing a book is not enough, and she enjoys promoting but understands that it is complex and underappreciated. (She mentions Search Engine Optimization, the potential in social media.)

The two have recently been promoting their book widely, most recently at the Lakeshore Museum Center. They said that their reception has varied widely, from drawing just a few people to large gatherings; Nyholm jokes that it has to do with whether the venue offers free food.

Images of America: Muskegon offers a variety of tastes of the local area, ranging from the very well-known (Buster Keaton, Justin Abdelkader, the blockhouse) to the more obscure. (Who knew that the best-selling  R&B/blues singer Bettye LaVette, who was a long-time friend of Aretha Franklin, was born in Muskegon?)
 
The photographs are all clear and the descriptions are compelling and concise, though they may make you want to google more, which is not at all a bad thing.

The book can be ordered by visiting www.arcadiapublishing.com, where you can shop by state, title, author, or series type.

Soon, Lewis and Nyholm will be back. They have already agreed with Arcadia to continue their collaboration what is currently called 100 Things to Do in Grand Rapids Before You Die.
 

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