GUEST BLOG By Scott M. Fisher
I’ve been crazy about airplanes and history since I was very young — especially when it has some kind of personal connection. So the topic of my new book “Eastern Iowa’s Aviation Heritage,” which combines aviation plus eastern Iowa, where I grew up, is a very special to me.
Everyone probably thinks of his or her home town or region as special. For me, eastern Iowa seems to have more than its share of aviation-related events and people who helped shape the industry on a larger scale than just this one region. I’ll bet a lot of other people who grew up, or maybe even still live, in eastern Iowa are unaware of just how much aviation has been a big part of the region.
I’ve always enjoyed local history, particularly. I grew up listening to my relatives and my friends’ relatives telling the stories of the “old days” of life in Iowa, whether it was about the railroads, or sports teams, or big storms — it was all great entertainment for me.
Much of my professional writing has been related to historical events that somehow my family was directly part of, like Hawkeye athletics, the Iowa State Patrol and National Guard, and the railroad. I still really enjoy just listening to people recall meaningful events from their past, wherever and whatever it may be. I am able to share their stories with others, whether it’s about running a store in a small town, working on the farm, driving in demolition derbies, restoring historic buildings, patrolling the highways, or keeping bees.
I really hope that anyone who is interested in aviation or reads Eastern Iowa’s Aviation Heritage will consider two things: Visit your local historical society and public libraries to see the great work these organizations do in collecting and preserving the stories and history of their communities, whether in old photos, artwork, digitized documents, or oral histories archived for all to enjoy.
And, perhaps more important, seek out and ask relatives and neighbors to share their experiences and memorabilia about life in the “old days,” which includes my own generation, now that we Baby Boomers are getting up there in years. I can’t tell you how often I come across people who don’t think their stories are “important” or “interesting” yet once I’ve listened to them tell about their lives, it turns out to be simply golden. Usually, the person is just waiting to be asked.
It’s too bad so many young people think of history as only “maps, timelines, and public speeches.” It’s the personal stories of people who actually lived through the events that makes history so rich in how we can learn about ourselves.
Scott Fisher is the author of the new pictorial history book, Eastern Iowa’s Aviation Heritage (Arcadia Publishing, 2011). For more information visit http://bit.ly/iOmeIn. Enter code “TourIowa” for 20% off your purchase.