Abilene Christian University Press partnered with the Grace Museum on Thursday to release the book, Abilene Stories: From Then to Now, an anthology written about Abilene over the past 130 years.
In the ballroom of the Grace the editors of the book, Glenn Dromgoole, Jay Moore and Joe W. Specht gathered with over 200 Abilene locals, history buffs and authors of some of the book’s stories. They shared their experiences creating the book and working with each other, and read some of their favorite excerpts from the book.
The book is a collection of 107 stories from 70 different authors, documenting Abilene from the frontier era up to the closing of Harold’s BBQ a few years ago. The editors worked with ACU Press to design and coordinate the publication.
“It’s really about the heritage and cultural significance of Abilene,” said Ryan Self, ACU Press publicist. “This is part of our series of Texas history books, but this is our first book that is really local to Abilene.”
Dr. Leonard Allen, director of the ACU Press, Doug Williamson, editor of the Abilene Reporter-News, and all three of the editors spoke at the event. Then refreshments were served and signed copies of the book were for sale.
Past and present ACU faculty contributed to Abilene Stories: From Then to Now, including Dr. Charlie Marler, senior faculty of journalism and Dr. John C. Stevens, former president of ACU. Articles from early editions of the Optimist were also included.
“Some of the tales in this book are pure history and some of them are just peoples’ thoughts about Abilene, but I like to think of it as a community scrapbook,” Moore said.
The first half of the book is chronological, starting with before Abilene, early Abilene, the military years and on. The second half is constructed around different themes such as churches, schools, culture, letters, sports and even weather.
“One of the things we tried to do was find cultural diversity in the book,” Droomgoole said.
Topics range from the first hanging in Abilene to praying for rain to Billy Olson’s world records.
“The flavor of Abilene is in this book. It’s not a cookbook, but it’s delicious,” Williamson said.
Abilene Stories is currently available for $27.99 at the ACU Press office, Texas Star Trading Co., and Amazon.