Monday, October 27, 2008

Wellsboro PA

Kasey Cox

In 1990, Kenneth C. Davis wrote his first bestselling history book, "Don't Know Much About History", which launched a popular series of "Don't Know Much About ..." books. (This is one of those series where you scratch your head and say, "Darn! Why didn't I think of that?") Davis's books, whose later installments are often co-authored with another teacher or historian, work well to make history - or geography, the Bible, mythology, the American presidents, the solar system, or what have you - more interesting to bored or slightly overwhelmed students. The histories are arranged chronologically featuring essays on important people or events from each era, usually opening and closing with a little humorous bon mot.

While Davis's series does not include "Don't Know Much About Wellsboro History", never fear, because even if you know a lot, Scott Gitchell can tell you more. Gitchell, of the Tioga County Historical Society, has just published the book that has been a huge labor of love for most of the past two years - if not the last couple of decades of studying the area, her history, her lore, and her people. The title of the book is not as bouncy as Kenneth Davis's books, because it reflects Gitchell's thoroughness and attention to detail. Sound the trumpets now, because it's the book you've been waiting for - "Wellsboro, Pennsylvania: The First Two Hundred Years: 1806 - 2006, A Pictorial History."

The "Don't Know Much" series is an easy study in comparison and contrast with a book such as Gitchell's bicentennial volume. Davis's essays, while fun and witty, have been criticized as leaning too much on entertainment value and not enough on the objective presentation of facts toward which a historian should endeavor. This criticism cannot, however, be leveled at Scott Gitchell: indeed, this objective, detailed listing of all the facts available is the true strength of the newly-released "Wellsboro book".

Spending time immersed in "Wellsboro ... The First Two Hundred Years", I found an impressive collection of facts - dates and names, building locations, early streets, laws and meetings, businesses and houses built and razed, floods, fires, churches and Odd Fellows. In Wellsboro's earliest days, before it was officially Wellsboro, I found many names I recognized - Morris, Harrison, Kelsey, Bacon, Packer, Deane, and Niles. There was a Cox near the beginning, but I am, sadly, not of his line. (I guess I can forget my membership in the "Daughters of Wellsboro's Founding Families". Bummer.) I also discovered many incidents I'd had no knowledge of - events involving freed slaves, black men on the first fire company, a heated "free soil" incident, a Ku Klux Klan chapter more angry about Catholics running for president than any racial conflicts one might believe, great bank robberies, and women postmasters and police officers. I won't ruin the stories: you need to read the details for yourself.

For many people who despair that Gale Largey's two history books of Wellsboro are out-of-print and extremely difficult to find for sale, Gitchell's bicentennial history of Wellsboro is a gift. Gitchell offers his community the gift of this book, affordably priced at less than $40 for a beautifully bound hardcover book whose paper and binding are, quite literally, built to last, to be handed down through the generations. You can be certain that Scott Gitchell, after years of research through old books, maps, documents, newspapers, letters, and photographs, understands the importance of building a book - especially one with such precious cargo as thoroughly-collected and -corrected histories - that will withstand the beatings of passing years.

History or ho-hum? Hobo knows history. His own, of course, is available in his memoir, "Hobo Finds A Home", soon to be re-released by Edgecliff Press!

... If you mourn the unavailability of Gale Largey's books, this is the book to buy, and keep, and gift. Kudos to Scott Gitchell for all his unselfish, unpaid hard work, and for a wonderful book!
Hi, folks! We've had a huge response to the book signing we hosted this past weekend, for Scott Gitchell of the Tioga County Historical Society, and the Wellsboro bicentennial history book. There have also been a lot of questions, so I thought I'd answer the FAQ here.

(1) What's the book again? What does it contain?

This is officially titled: "Wellsboro, Pennsylvania: The First Two Hundred Years: 1806 - 2006, A Pictorial History". It is a lovely hardcover, printed by the same company that did the bicentennial history of Tioga County. It's 160 pages, packed with Wellsboro history from its very roots till today. Lots of information, lots of cool black & white photos of days gone by.

(2) How much is it?

It is $36 + tax, which comes to $38.16 total. If you'd like it shipped, just 4.00 for shipping. The price quoted in the Williamsport paper was incorrect -- that price only covers the cost of the book, and then neither the Hist. Society nor the bookstore make any money. I'm sorry, but we can't give it away at cost. I hope everyone understands. This is a wonderful book, and a treasure that you can pass down through your family, like the Gale Largey books.Which leads me to ....

(3) How many were printed? Are they in danger of running out?

1500 copies were printed. After the response we had this past weekend, and the way the phone has been ringing today, I think they will be sold out by the end of the year. Dickens will probably just about wipe them out. It remains to be seen if another printing would be done. When I broached the subject with Scott, he said it's a lot of money for the Historical Society to come up with, right up front. Possibly more could be ordered, if enough people ordered and everyone pre-paid, but this is not something we can count on.

(4) Can I get a signed copy?

Of course! If you don't have time to take your book to the Hist. Society to have it personally addressed, we will always keep a ready supply of signed copies here at the bookstore.

In other news, people are starting to think about buying calendars for 2009. If you regularly get a certain kind of calendar -- be it "The Far Side" or "Tolkien" or "Cathy" or what-have-you -- we can get these for you at a fantastic discount! If you preorder and prepay for the 2009 calendar(s) of your choice, we will give you a great price, and save you a trip to the mall, or the last-minute rush. We'll be taking these preorders for calendars up until Dec. 20th, so let us know what you need, so we can give you the personalized service and the savings you deserve.

Hope you all have a great week! Stay warm!


Kasey Cox(class of 90), Kevin Coolidge(class of 87), and HOBO(bookstore cat, and author of "Hobo Finds A Home", school of hard knocks)

From My Shelf Books
87 Main St
Wellsboro PA 16901

p.s looking for a great book for the outdoor lover? Consider "Of A
Predatory Heart" by Joe Parry. Check out his blog at for a FREE excerpt.

Looking for a great childrens book or book for the cat lover? Check out
"Hobo Finds A Home" now available at, Amazon,
and Barnes & Noble, and a bookstore near you.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Good "Vibes"

Kasey Cox

When presented with a wide cross-section of genres in a selection of about 20 books I could review, I choose to read & review Amy Kathleen Ryan's book, "Vibes". This book won over many other choices, because I enjoy young adult fiction, and this looked like it had something new to offer. I've read a lot of young adult fantasy & sci-fi, which I still love. I used to read a lot of books aimed at teen girls (I'm now 36), but I haven't read much lately. I've been more cautious about diving into authors like Megan McCafferty or Sarah Dessen. I probably would have liked those books when I was fifteen, but now, if I read any "chic lit", it's someone like Jennifer Weiner, whose stories are about women's issues, relationships, feelings in the way teen stories are about issues, etc. that teens relate to.

I believe Ryan's "Vibes" bridges this gap: there are thoughts, feelings, problems that people of several ages can relate to. As a woman, I related to Kristi's concerns, remembering all too well the times I felt the same way she did ... and not just when I was seventeen. I also related to, and felt sympathy for, her mom. I loved the teen boy characters, too. One of the descriptions for this book made it sound as if it were just another teen romance where "Kristi has the hots for gorgeous Gustav (Gusty) Petersen." I was so pleased to find three-dimensional, more real characters, esp. with some of the male teens. That's refreshing. The adults, and some of the peripheral teen characters, were, at times a little shallow, but it is from Kristi's perspective, and that's how she saw them -- or perhaps that's ALL she saw of them, so that's not inappropriate.

Overall, I'd agree heartily with what many teen reviewers have said -- I love Kristi's voice. With Kristi, and her struggles, author Amy Ryan adds a needed and interesting perspective on modern teen life. It's sympathetic, not dumbed-down, but also not made into an overly intense Lifetime Channel-type tragedy. This was a fun, enjoyable read. I'll highly recommend it to my teen readers, and their moms, and dads. Reading this together would provide a great chance to discuss some tough "issues", and could act as a springboard toward understanding each other's perspectives a lot better.

The Science of Vampires

Kevin Coolidge

Hmmm, salt, garlic, silver crucifix, wooden stakes, iron stakes, and because I like to hedge my bets, a napalm fed flamethrower. Ok, the flamethrower and napalm is homemade. First you take orange juice concentrate and some gasoline…. Never mind, there’s no time for that. I have to exterminate my lawyer*. I really don’t want to, but he’s a bloodsucking parasite. Sure, I see you nodding your head, but I mean he’s a leech, a fang boy, a corpsesicle. He really drinks blood. He’s a vampire.

Vampires are real, not figments of fantasy or superstition. They are everywhere. Waiting for the darkness. Waiting for us to let our guard down. Waiting for us to forget. That’s why I decided to read up on my undead foes…

The Science of Vampires by Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D.: This author has a master’s degree in forensic psychology. Her book offers a fascinating investigation into the myths and realities of the vampire. What is vampire personality disorder? What causes a physical addiction to another’s blood? How could a vampire hide in today’s world of advanced forensic science? Does this come in black? Criminologists may study the monster in the man, but the real monsters stalk the shadows…

The Sookie Stackhouse book series by Charlaine Harris: Sookie has a problem. She can read minds, and that makes having a romantic relationship close to impossible. Dating a vampire has an unexpected benefit. Her predilection for reading minds doesn't seem to work with him, but violence follows in his wake. The series details the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional small Louisiana town. This is all possible due to the creation of TruBlood™ by Japanese scientists. TruBlood™ allows vampires to get all their nourishment through the synthetic blood, and theoretically leave humans alone. Hmmm, I better finish my Bloody Mary before it clots…

The Twilight Series by Stepheie Myers: She is the author of the books Twilight, along with the sequels New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. The Twilight saga follows the adventures of Isabella Swan (nicknamed Bella), a teenager who moves to Forks, Washington and finds her life turned upside down when she falls in love with a vampire named Edward Cullen.

The series has gained a cult following among young adult readers. Fans have been officially dubbed “Twilighters”. Many dress up like the characters. They write their own fan fiction about them, post their tales on the Internet. When Stephenie Meyer appears at a bookstore, 3,000 people go to meet her. There are Twilight-themed rock bands. The small town of Forks on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State is a real town, and has thus received am unusual amount of attention, and now celebrates “Stephenie Meyer Day” on September 13, the date of character Bella Swan’s birthday, in honor of the author. So, just why has this series become so immensely popular? As Shakespeare knew, love burns hotter when love is forbidden, and this pair of lovers is extremely star-crossed.

Blood Sucking Fiends and You Suck by Christopher Moore: You meet the girl of your dreams and she’s dead. No, make that undead, and, now surprise! You are a vampire too. Yes, love bites, and Christopher Moore knows it. You Suck, a love story, is Moore’s tenth novel and sequel to Blood Sucking Fiends, his third novel.

Christopher Moore is an American writer of absurdist fiction. His novels typically involve an ordinary guy thrust into supernatural or extraordinary circumstances, and often touch on political, environmental, or social concerns. Think John Steinbeck mixed with Kurt Vonnegut. Nope, You Suck is not your typical vampire story. I guess that’s what happens when you fall for the ghoul necks door…

The night is dark and cold, a good night for hunting. Now where did I put my ultraviolet flares and crossbow???

*This column does not advocate violence to attorneys or the undead.

Tired of endless, death-warmed-over, mountain gossip? Then excavate the vault at Hobo is resurrected this month in the new version of “Hobo Finds A Home” Can’t get enough of Hobo? Be sure to watch for Hobo, the multivitamin, now with extra vitamin C!!!