“These are the gold standard of local history memoirs,” I said to Tom Lymbery on Saturday.
I had dropped by Creston Public Library to thank Lymbery for my review copy and take a photo. As a bonus, I had a lovely conversation with one of the East Shore’s great characters, and learned snippets of information of the sort that the business owner/writer/Gray Creek eminence grise.
Three years ago, Lymbery, who grew up in Gray Creek and who still runs the famed Gray Creek Store, released Tom’s Gray Creek, Part I. It was received with acclaim, in part due to the skills of several other Kootenay Lake professionals. He is adamant that the contributions of his team in Part II be acknowledged.
Boswell’s Warren Clark designed the cover, as he has for so many other fortunate authors. Former Advance editor Betsy Brierley, who calls Armstrong Bay home, contributed her accomplished editing skills. Frances Roback of Gray Creek (she worked for 30 years at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum) wore many hats—editing, photography, photo and quote selection, scanning, writing the afterword, captions and sidebars, research and more. Janet Schwieger of North Woven Broom also contributed. Lymbery also expressed gratitude for funding help from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural alliance.
The beautiful production is chock full of historical photos, drawings, quotes, excerpts and old advertisements and the result is visually pleasing and a great reading experience.
But it is Lymbery’s voice and prodigious memory that takes this memoir to the highest level. He has a wonderful way with words and a genuine love of his environs. And the photos, clearly a passion for Clark, have been meticulously enhanced and retouched to bring out the images as well as possible.
If it isn’t already obvious, I am a fan of Tom Lymbery. Gray Creek Store is one of the coolest businesses in the province (on Saturday he said that American visitors had increased this summer, adding that many come from as far away as Montana to shop for things they just can’t find anywhere else!). He has been writing his “Tom’s Corner” column in The East Shore Mainstreet since 1991 (just two years after I started writing “This is the Life”) and submitting other articles, too. His letters to the editor in the Creston Valley Advance are always welcome, and I wish we heard more from him.
Tom’s Gray Creek, Part II is available locally at Kingfisher Quality Used Books and at the Creston Museum.