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Hard Times and Tragic Events 


Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?,  by R. G. Bluemer

Recent economic woes notwithstanding, America has never seen anything quite like the Great Depression.  The Hoover administration’s efforts proved unable to cope with a growing crisis after the 1929 stock market crash.  A run on the local bank was common, with many depositors losing everything in those pre-FDIC days.  Men who had been family breadwinners found themselves in bread lines.  President Roosevelt put young men to work in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and reassured Americans with his “fireside chats” on radio.  Later, thousands of men were utilized by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructing roads, bridges, public buildings and parks, many of which are still in use today, a testament to the spirit of families, neighbors and church groups who banded together to see one another through the hard times.  Their legacy is documented here with over 200 historic photographs.


Softcover, 5.5 x 8.5, 240 pgs.    

Price: $21.50



Chicago in the Great Depression,  by J. R. Schonauer  and K. G. Schonauer 


Carl Sandburg called Chicago the “City of the Big Shoulders,” and those shoulders withstood the stock market crash of 1929.  Chicagoans rallied to collect funds to celebrate the centennial of the city’s incorporation in 1833.  A Century of Progress International Exposition, held in 1933 and 1934, brought jobs and businesses to Chicago and cheered people with the prospect of new technology and the promising face of the future. Neighborhood churches and community organizations helped each other, and the Great Migration brought new arrivals from the American South. Together, these factors helped to hasten the end of Prohibition and the fall of notorious gangsters like Al Capone and John Dillinger.  Jazz rolled in, with Chicagoans dancing along to the tunes of the big bands.  Even if pocketbooks were bare, souls were full of hope.


Softcover, 6.5 x 9.25, 128 pgs.

Price:  $21.00 


The Worst Hard Time:  The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, byTimothy Egan


The plains of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado were once vast grasslands with deep roots in the soil of a territory with little rainfall and constant winds.  During the 1930s Depression years, farm families who dominated the area struggled to increase wheat crops by removing the natural grasses.  A drought, high temperatures, and high winds soon ripped off the top soil, spreading tons of dirt and dust over buildings and the land.  The resulting disaster killed humans and animals, blacked out skies, and isolated whole towns.  Timothy Egan examines the causes and effects of what ignorance and greed can do to the land that must sustain us.  We've all heard of the Okies and Arkies who headed west to escape the Dust Bowl devastation.  The Worst Hard Time is the story of those who stayed behind and the terrible toll they paid. 


Softcover, 352 pgs.

Price: $14.95



Door Peninsula Shipwrecks, by Jon Paul Van Harpen


Door County is the final resting place of many shipwrecks, from the first Euro American ship to sail the western Great Lakes, LaSalle’s fabled Griffin that left Washington Island in 1679 never to be heard of again, to modern-day pleasure crafts that find the shallow inlets and bays hard to navigate.  Door Peninsula Shipwrecks takes the reader on a photographic journey around the peninsula and back to a time of wooden ships and iron men.  From Sturgeon Bay to the east coast of the peninsula to the northern islands and Green Bay.  With many historic photographs, and drawing upon 30 years of diving and shipwreck archaeology experience, the author follows the course of storied shipwrecks and brings them to life with the fascinating tales of peril and salvation.  The journey encompasses early wooden sail craft to steel steamers, the brave sailors who sailed the treacherous waters, and the heroic lifesavers who rescued them.


Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.     

Price: $21.00



The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,  by Frederick Stonehouse 


The mystery of the S.S. Fitzgerald has haunted the public for almost 50 years.  What really happened to the ship and her entire 29 man crew during that terrible storm on November 10, 1975?  Did she break in two on the surface due to storm stress, strike an uncharted reef, ri apart because of design or maintenance faults, or did something else sink her?  Frederick Stonehouse has studied the Fitzgerald mystery since the day she plunged to the bottom of Lake Superior.  While there are no provable answers, his conclusions evolved as more information gradually became available.  He provides here an honest and straightforward appraisal of all the evidence and theories to enable readers to reach their own conclusions.  


Softcover, 8.5 x 5.5, 273 pgs.

Price:  $17.95


Oak Lawn Tornado of 1967,  by Kevin Korst


The morning of April 21, 1967, was crisp and clear, marking the arrival of spring.  As the day progressed, dark clouds covered the skies over Oak Lawn, and a deadly tornado touched down in the village just before 5:30 p.m.  Cutting through the intersection of 95th Street and Southwest Highway and striking elsewhere, the storm left mountains of debris and over 30 people dead in its wake.  Oak Lawn Community High School, St. Gerald Catholic Church, and the Fairway Super Mart were among the structures damaged or destroyed.  After the disaster, rescue workers and volunteers poured into Oak Lawn to search for survivors.  Christ Community Hospital and other institutions treated more than 400 injured people.  The immense cleanup, which took weeks to complete, saw debris hauled out or disposed of in controlled fires.  Despite the scope of the devastation, many of the affected structures were repaired or rebuilt within 12 months.


Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.

Price:  $21.00



The 1972 Flood in New York's Southern Tier, by Kirk W. House  


In June 1972, Hurricane Agnes hit the East Coast with monstrous and devastating force, bringing a deluge across multiple states and slamming four counties in the Southern Tier: Steuben, Chemung, Tioga, and Broome.  Dozens died and property damage ran into the millions as Corning, Elmira, Owego, Binghamton, and other communities suddenly found themselves under water.  The flood destroyed the Erie Lackawanna Railroad, staggered the Penn Central, shut down Corning Glass Works for weeks, and devastated the Corning Museum of Glass—a major cultural resource.  Lives and landscapes were forever changed as homes and businesses washed away in a matter of minutes.  The extraordinary destruction wrought by Agnes is chronicled here in stunning images of twisted rail lines, devastated streets, rivers bursting their banks, cars on houses¾as well as the exhausted recovery workers and the communities’ determined rebuilding efforts.

Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.    

Price: $21.00

The Eastland Disaster,  by Ted Wachholz


For their fifth annual excursion and picnic, employees of Western Electric Company planned a lovely cruise across Lake Michigan.  Thousands of hard-working immigrant laborers and their families would enjoy a festive day that included a lovely cruise across Lake Michigan to an awaiting parade and day-long picnic.  Instead, the event turned into a tragedy unlike any other.  The SS Eastland, while still tied to the wharf, capsized into the Chicago River with more than 2,500 passengers aboard.  Nearly 850 people lost their lives, including 22 entire families.  Captivating images and compelling narrative taken from families of survivors recall the ensuing struggle for survival, and the resulting death, heroism, greed, cowardice, and scandal that gripped the city.

Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.    

Price: $21.00


Fire Below!, by R. G. Bluemer


Coal.  “Black gold.”  For those who go deep under the earth to mine it, coal has long provided a livelihood¾and presented a daily danger.  The history of mining is fraught with cave-ins, fires, floods and assorted other accidents and fatalities.  Early in the last century, Illinois mines had endured relatively few disasters compared to mines in other states.  But in November, 1909, 259 men and boys perished in a mine at Cherry, Illinois.  Adding to the tragedy, some who died had survived an earlier flood in a mine at Diamond, Illinois.  The Cherry mine fire was the worst in American mining history.  It finally required the Chicago Fire Department to extinguish it, with pumpers loaded on flatbed rail cars and brought to the mine.  The Chicago Tribune set up a major charity drive for the widows and orphans.  Newspaper reports, inquest testimony and personal accounts of miners are illustrated with photos from private and library collections, as well as exclusive photos of the mine today, in this most thorough account of a major mining tragedy.


Softcover, 5.5 x 8.5, 224 pgs.

Price:  $21.50



Galveston: A City on Stilts, by Jodi Wright-Gidley and Jennifer Marines


On September 8, 1900, a devastating hurricane destroyed most of the island city of Galveston, along with the lives of more than 6,000 men, women, and children.  Today that hurricane remains the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.  Despite this tragedy, many Galvestonians were determined to rebuild their city.  An ambitious plan was developed to construct a wall against the sea, link the island to the mainland with a reliable concrete bridge, and raise the level of the city.  While the grade was raised beneath them, houses were perched on stilts and residents made their way through town on elevated boardwalks.  Galveston became a “city on stilts.”  While Galvestonians worked to rebuild the infrastructure of their city, they also continued conducting business and participating in recreational activities.  Zeva B. Edworthy’s photographs document the rebuilding of the port city and life around Galveston in the early 1900s.

Softcover, 144 pgs.    

Price: $24.50


Hurricane in the Hamptons, 1938 by Mary Cummings


The 1938 hurricane, the most severe and terrifying storm to hit Long Island in living memory, struck on September 21, a day that had dawned bright and fair in the seaside communities between Westhampton Beach and Montauk Point.  Unaware of the storm whipping itself into a frenzy just miles away, village residents were going about their normal tasks when it struck, killing more than 30 and wreaking unprecedented destruction before nightfall.  In this book, that disastrous day is recalled with more than 150 photographs, most of them taken by stunned residents in the immediate aftermath of the storm.  Born and raised in Southampton, Mary Cummings has collected stories of the hurricane since her childhood, when she listened to the accounts of those who had lived through the storm.

Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.       

Price: $21.00


Kansas: In the Heart of Tornado Alley

In 1915, Snowden D. Flora
of the US Weather Bureau wrote, “Kansas has been so commonly considered the tornado state that the term ‘Kansas cyclone’ has almost become a part of the English language.”  Flora’s words still seem to ring true.  Whether called a twister, a tornado, a vortex, or cyclone, these catastrophic events have shaped lives in the Sunflower State for generations.  Just a few destructive moments forever changed places such as Irving, Udall, Topeka, Andover, and Greensburg.  Even before Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz helped equate the tornado with Kansas, the turbulent nature of local weather seemed to parallel an equally turbulent history, with the fury of people such as John Brown compared to a cyclone.  Even if they have never seen a funnel cloud themselves, those who live in Kansas have come to accept the twister as a regular and always unpredictable neighbor.

Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.
Price: $21.00


The New York City Triangle Factory Fire


On March 25, 1911, flames rapidly consumed everything within the Triangle Waist Company factory, killing 146 workers.  The victims, mostly young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, died needlessly due to unsafe working conditions, such as locked or blocked doors, narrow stairways, faulty fire escapes, and a lack of sprinklers.  Until September 11, 2001, the Triangle fire was the deadliest workplace disaster in New York City history.  Mass grief and outrage spread from New York's Lower East Side across the country.  Garment union membership swelled, and New York politics shifted dramatically toward reform, paving the way for the workplace standards expected today.  With many historic images, this book honors the victims' sacrifice and serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for the dignity of all working people.


Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.

Price:  $21.00


The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911, by Paul Mercer & Vicki Weiss


In the early morning hours of March 29, 1911, fire broke out in the New York State Capitol at Albany.  By sunset, the entire western portion of the building had sustained extensive damage. The entire collection of the New York State Library which had been housed there was almost completely destroyed.  Founded in 1818, it had been one of the finest research libraries in the country.  In a particularly bitter irony, the fire struck as the overcrowded library was four months away from moving into new, spacious quarters under construction across the street. Miraculously, the only fatality was an elderly watchman.  This account of the fire includes recently discovered photographs documenting the construction of the building, beginning in 1867, as well as eyewitness accounts of its destruction.

Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.      

Price:  $21.00



St. Francis Dam Disaster,  by John Nichols


Built by the City of Los Angeles' Bureau of Water Works and Supply, the failure of the St. Francis Dam on its first filling was the greatest American civil engineering failure of the 20th century, and one of the worst disasters in California's history---second only to the San Francisco earthquake and fire.  Minutes before midnight on the evening of March 12, 1928, the dam collapsed.  Its 200-foot concrete wall crumpled, sending billions of gallons of raging flood waters down San Francisquito Canyon, sweeping 54 miles down the Santa Clara River to the sea, and claiming over 450 lives in the disaster.  At dawn on the morning after the disaster, local residents took their cameras to record the path of destruction.  Professional photographers followed, collecting images of washed-out bridges, destroyed homes and buildings, Red Cross workers giving aid, and the massive clean-up that followed.  With over 200 images, this photographic record captures the devastation caused by the flood, and the heroic efforts of residents and rescue workers.  

Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.     

Price: $21.00


Titanic: Destination Disaster,  by John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas


No other ship or maritime tragedy holds more fascination than the Titanic.  A century after she sank beneath the chill, starlit North Atlantic waters on her maiden voyage, carrying a wide mix of passengers, from the social, artistic and financial elite of two continents to the humblest emigrants on their way to America, the story continues to enthrall.  Two historical authorities present a gripping account of the sea’s best-known disaster, expertly summarizing the ship's brief but glamorous life, from building and launching in Belfast, to the discovery of her remains more than two miles down on the ocean bed, the subsequent artifact recovery dives and courtroom efforts to protect the wreck.  Photographs from their 12,540-foot dives down to the wreck site are coupled with a wealth of fascinating new information about the ship and her people, past and present.

Softcover, 6.25 x 8.5, 223 pgs. 

Price: $19.95



The Teton Dam Disaster,  by Dylan J. McDonald


While cameras rolled, the newly completed 305-foot-tall Teton Dam collapsed shortly before noon on June 5, 1976.  The resulting wall of water, 80 billion gallons strong, battered town after town during its three-day rampage through the Upper Snake River Valley in eastern Idaho.  Impounding the flood-prone Teton River, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation dam¾ ironically a dam built for flood control¾ failed during the reservoir's initial fill, ripping homes from foundations, drowning thousands of livestock, and stripping acres of valuable topsoil.  Amazingly only 11 lives were lost during the disaster, as most residents heeded the flood warnings. Presenting photographs from local newspapers, archives, museums, historical societies, and witnesses, this book documents the dam's spectacular failure, the tremendous damage, and the Herculean cleanup and rebuilding process following one of the worst engineering disasters of the last century.

Softcover, 6 x 9, 128 pgs.    

Price: $21.00