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Food for Thought

History is about people. It’s about you and me and the things we do, both as individuals and as a community. The Solon History Group has been making strides – well, maybe baby steps – toward assuring that the unique stories of our community are not forgotten. Solon and other Johnson County towns played important roles in the settlement and development of this part of the state. Its population has its own character, its history is an intriguing story, its place in the annals of the county and the state are essential parts of Iowa’s picture.
The Solon History Group recently completed one project that assures a permanent venue for a few significant incidents in Solon’s past. In conjunction with the Johnson County Historical Society and other towns in the county, we have selected several historical sites and events from Solon’s past. With accompanying photographs, several historical highlights have been described briefly and incorporated in two large posters, which will be included as part of a permanent exhibit at the County Historical Building. These, along with material provided by our sister cities and towns, will make up a permanent display that provides a taste of what Johnson County is and how it became that way. Each city will receive copies of its own posters and we hope to display the Solon posters at the library, for a time at least – and to find a permanent home for them in the future.
In the course of selecting the photos and events for the posters, we found many more items of interest than we could possibly squeeze into the allotted space, and became curious about many other incidents, places and people that make up Solon’s history. These seemed to have been preordained to become another project for the History Group. What we need is a book about Solon. People love looking at old pictures and reminiscing about the past. We have lots of old photos but so many are unidentified – no dates, no names of people in the photos, no indications of the events depicted. In other words – it’s a lot of guesswork.
Several Solon residents have brought us photos and other materials during the months we have been working on these projects. Names are suggested to us – people who might be helpful in identifying some of the photos. We have had suggestions of things to include in the book – ideas abound.
What we need, to make the ideas into reality, are people who can tell us about the past. People who have old family pictures and documents. People who were present at certain events and can give us first-hand accounts of what went on and who was involved. We have started to contact some of the people who we feel may be able to help us. If you receive a letter or phone call requesting your help, please remember that you may be the only person who can tell us specific things about something significant to Solon’s history. We know that we are asking a big favor, but there is no other way to get some of this information. And if we don’t contact you, please remember that we have no way of knowing about everyone who has interesting material for us – we will be delighted to hear from you and to set up a time and place for an interview, where we will listen carefully and take down all the unique information that only you can give us.
In addition to old photos, letters, diaries, memorabilia from community celebrations, advertising from old businesses, photos and accounts of activities of local organizations, we are interested in personal anecdotes – those little stories that get told and retold around the family dinner table, repeated at family reunions, passed down from grandparent to grandchild. While these events may not have changed the course of history, they are part of history. They add color and humanity not found in the dry statistics of the history books. They are about people, about Solon, about us.
If you can help in any way, or know of someone who can, please contact us by calling Sandy Hanson (624-2710) or me (351-9117) or by attending one of the History Group meetings held twice a month at the Solon Library (watch for notice of meetings in this newspaper).