Title: Indelibly Hesperia
Author: Peter Day
Publisher: Hesperia Star
It’s been one long year for Hesperia historian Gary “Old Town Griz” Drylie.
Last year, the steel worker by day began the arduous task of collecting and scanning hundreds of photos for a book deal with Arcadia Publishing, which is known for its “Images of America” collection of books. Finally, after all the editing, culling, writing and corresponding, Drylie has completed his book, “Hesperia.”
Available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, brick and mortar book stores and several Victor Valley locations, “Hesperia” has captured a 100-year span of the Star of the West. Beginning with the late 1800s, the 127-page paperback ends its journey just before the year 2000.
The making of the book has a story of its own, according to Drylie.
A representative for Arcadia Publishing called the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce and asked if they knew of a historian who might want to write the book. The Chamber recommended Drylie, who originally ran a museum out Shelly’s Restaurant in Old Town, which was owned by his wife Shelly Sullivan.
“We sat down and had dinner and discussed what they were proposing.”
Drylie, who holds a teaching credential in printing and graphic arts, first learned the parameters: 70 word limit per photo capture and section introductions of just 180 words.
He could submit no more than 240 photos and no less than 180.
“Two hundred and 14 was the final number.”
Finally, a few weeks ago he received the writer’s copies.
“It was like giving birth to a baby. I was a proud daddy.”
He gave several of the books to those who helped make the book possible. Topping the list were Mary Ann Creason Rohde, who lived in Hesperia from 1935 to 1955, and the Hesperia Recreation and Park District, which runs the Harrison Exhibit Building.The building houses Drylie’s “Main Street Hesperia” collection.
Some of the highlights contained in “Hesperia”:
• The storm of 1861 that dropped 50 inches of rain and obliterated the area’s toll road
• The influence of Joseph Widney, a Greek scholar and lawyer who named the future city
• The Hesperia Hotel, a three-story building that stood for decades
• The first subdivision maps of 1888
• FX McDonald singing “Heading for Hesperia” on Arthur Godfrey’s TV show
• The popular Hesperia Inn, which attracted the likes of Mel Torme, the Marx Brothers, Donald O’Connor and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Drylie believes Hesperia’s history shows a wholesomeness not commonly found today.
“I believe Hesperia grew with the help of some very hardworking people, through good times and bad times. Everybody’s just trying to survive in today’s society.”
For Drylie, learning about history is one of the most important things a person can do.
“If you don’t learn your history there is a big change of repeating it, good or bad,” Drylie said. “We’re preserving Hesperia’s history through education. That’s the premise of the book. Remembering our history is important for saving our future.”