Title: Pinpointing history
Author: Lori Forgay
Publisher: Denton Record-Chronicle
A photo history of Pilot Point, the oldest town in Denton County, has been collected for a new book.
Pilot Point: Images of America features photos dating back to the 1850s, when Dr. R.W. Eddleman came to the town from Missouri with his mother, Cynthia, and wife, Alvina. Once bricks became available, Eddleman built Star Drug Store.
Jay's Cafe now inhabits the building once occupied by the drug store on the Pilot Point square. The restaurant's owner, Jay Melugin, compiled and wrote the book on Pilot Point's history. It follows another book, Pathfinder II: A Guide to Pilot Point -- Past and Future, that Melugin penned for the Pilot Point Chamber of Commerce when he served as its president.
"Pilot Point has such a rich and interesting history," Melugin said. "We needed something to promote it."
The walls of Jay's Cafe, which opened in January 1998, are carpeted with Pilot Point memorabilia. It all began with seven photographs. To date, Melugin has collected more than 1,000 photos, letters, posters and artifacts.
"I have always been fascinated with history and antiques. I connect with old things," he said. "Once I started displaying … people started bringing stuff. I get something weekly. They know I will take care of it and preserve it."
"I think it's important for the public to have access to that [memorabilia]," said David L. Delcourt II, president of the Pilot Point Community Opera House, which is undergoing a revitalization effort. "He chronicles the history."
"Jay already had lots of photographic history," Delcourt said, so writing the book "was right up his bailiwick. Jay is one of the great historians in town, and it made sense for him to write it."
It's hard to find a smiling face in most of the really old photographs featured in the book.
"Photos were so rare and they were taken so seriously," Melugin said. "It may be the only shot at getting their picture made in their whole life."
Melugin moved his family to Pilot Point in 1997 from Fort Worth. "I was love-struck with the square and the buildings and town. The atmosphere of the town square -- it was like stepping back in time ... like a time capsule. I just wanted to be a part of that."
Jay's wife, Carolyn, said, "When people come in [the restaurant] and look around, it often brings back memories from their childhood. It makes me feel good to make them feel good."
People often look up interesting facts about their family history by finding names in the ledger from the general store, which recorded what was purchased.
"While they are waiting for food, they don't care how long it takes," Melugin said. "It's a benefit to me as a cook."
Melugin's 127-page book is available at Amazon.com.