Peggy Rankin is something of a reluctant author.
Ask her about the Ennis history book she has co-labored with local historian Laurie Wilson over.
“I hadn’t ever thought of doing anything like this – then Laurie Wilson called me, saying she’d been approached about it and asking if I’d help her. I said ‘Well, sure!’ It sounded like so much fun. And it has been,” she said.
The two have been working on the book for about a year for Arcadia Publishing, the group that approached Ennis Convention & Visitors Bureau tourism director Gina Rokas about the project. She brought the idea to the Ennis Heritage Society, and the book blossomed from there.
“I think it’s so awesome,” Rokas said of the book. “When I received the call from Arcadia I knew it was something Ennis needed to do, and I think Laurie and Peggy have done an extraordinary job.”
Peggy Rankin said the book, “Images of America: Ennis” was very time consuming.
“We had to try to find additional photos as well as the ones that had been saved in the library and published before. We do have several photos that haven’t been seen before. People were so gracious to open up their albums and their collections to us. Without these many other people, this wouldn’t have been such a success,” the Ennis native said.
“It worked out wonderful – it was a great partnership between Laurie and I,” she said.
“We split it up to where she actually did all the hard work. Laurie is the true backbone of this book – she did all the writing, which would be more difficult to me, and I did the legwork. I’m more of a talker than a writer,” Rankin said.
Rankin managed the task of getting forms filled out for photos, for example.
“The book we’re doing is a wonderful pictorial history, with around 200 pictures . We looked at hundreds and hundreds of photos , and it was relatively difficult to choose,” she said.
The picture on the cover , for example, is from the Ennis Public Library archive – it’s the 1923 graduating class of Ennis High School in a dressed-up celebration of matriculation, and it’s as clear as if it were taken yesterday.
“Some pictures, when you go to reprint them, aren’t as clear. This one just happened to be in wonderful condition and to reproduce very well. We loved it because they were all dressed up in their finery. It’s just a wonderful group photo – they were standing in front of the old original country club, we were told,” she said.
The book is soft cover, with many black and white pictures inside. Care was taken to cover aspect of early community life in Ennis, Rankin said.
Proceeds from the book will go to the Ennis Czech Heritage Society and to the Ennis Heritage Society; both are local historical groups who contributed to the book extensively.
“I love the excitement that everyone we talked to feels about this book. From the people that helped supply the pictures and information on the history, to the people who heard about it coming out and are excited about it and want to get a copy. The response has been just wonderful. People have been so eager to help with the project,” Rankin said.
The book is published by Arcadia Publishing, retailing at $21.99. Rankin is hoping local merchants will sell copies. A book signing will be planned after the Feb. 16 release.
She was particularly taken with the project because of her deep roots in the Ennis area.
Peggy Holland Rankin made her way through Ennis schools – San Jacinto Elementary, Davy Crockett Junior High, a 1966 graduate of Ennis High School. She commuted to Dallas to work at Continental Insurance in Dallas, and attended business school at El Centro College at night, and she has two grown sons who both live here.
“My interest in history in Ennis is because I was born and raised here. I just love this little town – the people are wonderful, and it does have varied interests, with the Czech culture here. It lends itself to being an interesting town, very fun and new people always bring something extra to a city. To have them all enjoy living here and get active in the various community activities is great.”
E-mail J.Louise at email@example.com.