F ormer Granville resident Michelle Yauger will return in mid-October, and she will be bringing an important piece of Granville history with her.
The town has always been proud of its veterans, especially the 32 Granville men who died in World War II.
The Main Street clock stands in memory of the town’s veterans, and the 32 trees behind the high school commemorate the World War II dead. Last week, local veterans dedicated a stone monument near that lists the names of all those men.
Now, residents can read a book that tells those stories and more.
Yauger, a freelance author and blogger, has published “We Have Our Best: A Small Town Honors Its Veterans,” which focuses on the people, the veterans and Granville’s memorial clock.
She will be doing several readings while she is visiting, including one at 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Pember Library and Museum.
Yauger, who lives in Arizona, describes life in Granville from the late 1800s through 2010 with text and more than 160 photographs. The book includes details on all of those who died, as well as many other veterans and residents. Stories include memories from men who survived POW camps, witnessed the D-Day invasion of Europe, and participated in special missions that were never widely publicized.
In the book, Yeager points out that Granville was a town of about 6,000 in the 1940s, and 770 residents fought in World War II.
Inspired by clock
Yauger moved from Granville when she was 11, but she has stayed in touch with friends and was fascinated when she read on Facebook that the clock was being restored.
“I hadn’t known it wasn’t working, and when the buzz started about it on Facebook, I was really struck by it. It’s such a symbol of Granville,” she said. Her brother Dan suggested she write a book, since she had just finished one on the family’s history.
“I figured it would be a nice, little picture book, maybe 60 pages,” she said. “I expected it would take six months, not two years.”
Tough to write
In a blog post about writing the book, she note shat she was essentially trying to bring back to life 32 people who had died decades ago.
“In the first draft of the book, they were just a list of 32 names. That’s all the information I had. Today, thanks to people in Granville who have shared what they know, combined with my brother Dan’s tenacious research, these young men have their stories again,” she wrote. “ It has been some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever done — and the most emotionally draining.”
She said that after her extensive research, “I know which street they lived on, how many brothers and sisters loved them, and if they played high school football. I know who died in training, on leave, in combat — and where … I can tell you what military awards they received, how long they served, and how many were killed between D-Day and V-J Day. Most never saw their 25th birthdays.”
Yauger said researching and writing the book was an emotional experience.
“It is painful to reanimate the dead, only to end by imagining what their mothers must have felt when the awful telegram arrived. It weighs more than I expected it to, and I’ve had to devise some strategies for shaking it off,” she wrote at the time. “I take walks and go swimming even when I don’t want to. I turn on some music to use the other side of my brain.
“I play with the dogs, I hardly listen to the news anymore, and when a documentary about the bombing of Germany comes on TV, I change the channel,” she added, “Still, when I learned yesterday that a young Granville soldier had died of his wounds in an overcrowded POW camp. I felt the impact of it anyway, 67 years late.”
More than the war
She also tells the story of the Main Street clock, which was originally built in 1892, but was later destroyed by fire. In 1943, a new clock was dedicated to the town’s World War II veterans. The clock eventually fell into disrepair, but was restored by resident John Freed and recently rededicated.
Yauger grew up on a farm in South Granville. Her short story “Father’s Day” received the Martindale Literary Prize for Short Fiction and was anthologized in the “Kaleidoscope” (Pima Press, 2007). She published a book on her family history entitled “The Barringtons” in 2010 and posts regularly to her blog, “Figment of My Cogitation.”
Excerpts from “We Gave Our Best” can be found at (http://figmentofcogitation.wordpress.com).
There are a number of ways to get the book. It will be on sale at the Granville Village Municipal Building, 51 Quaker St., for $46. It will also be for sale at any book-signings Yauger does and through the Internet at www.blurb.com. Discounts are available for seven or more copies. It’s also available as an e-book for iPad at the website.
The book is being published at cost, with no profit to the author.