Labor Day Weekend is traditionally the last hurrah for many summer events, including visiting amusement parks.
But for area author Scott Fowler, right now is the perfect time to be thinking about amusement parks — particularly amusement parks of yore.
Scott, an administrative lieutenant for the Sinclair Community College campus police, avid regional historian and writer, is hard at work on his new book, “Images of Modern American: Fantasy Farm Amusement Park.” He recently signed a contract with Arcadia Publishing (www.arcadiapublishing.com), the leading local history publisher in the United States, for the book to be published in the summer of 2014. This follows his first book, LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park, published in 2011.
As many local folks know, LeSourdsville opened in Monroe in 1922, was renamed Americana Amusement Park in 1977, and closed in 1999, reopening briefly in 2002 before closing permanently. (Personal note: I have fond memories of our daughters’ first roller coaster rides being on the ‘Screechin’ Eagle’ at the park.) In 1963, one of the co-founders and former owners Edgar Streifthau opened Fantasy Farm, an amusement park geared for younger children, on his property next to LeSourdsville. Fantasy Farm remained in operation until 1991.
“I worked at LeSourdsville while I was in high school,” Scott explains. “At first, it was just a job. But then I became fascinated by the history of the amusement park, and the history of the Butler County area in general. Eventually, that led to me documenting this particular history, collecting photos, old advertisements, postcards and so on.”
Scott, who lives in Liberty Twp., maintains numerous files of material of regional history.
“But, I didn’t just want a bullet point list of dates and facts. I wanted to capture the stories that came with the history, and the pieces that I collected. And so, I began writing pieces, with the goal of preserving and documenting the history that fascinates me,” Scott says. Then he adds, with a laugh, “Frankly, until then, I found writing to be a chore. But as I began writing these pieces for my own purposes, I also began enjoying writing for its own sake.”
As a freelancer, Scott has written numerous marketing pieces and community profiles that have been published in area newspapers and publications. His writing and research efforts also led him to create an organization called the Southwest Ohio Amusement Park Historical Society; its website is www.soaphs.com.
“Our area was once home to 15 amusement parks,” says Scott. “And by that I mean smaller, traditional amusement parks.”
After Scott completes his project, he says he’s interested in writing more about other aspects of regional history. But for now, Scott’s focus is on preserving the history and stories from Fantasy Farm in his new book and he needs local readers’ support to do so. Although he’s doing all of the research and writing for the book, he’s seeking photos to be included in the book.
“Anyone with photos, preferably color photos, from Fantasy Farm should contact me,” Scott says. “I’m looking for family photos, general photos, ride photos. You name it. If I use a photo, I’ll give the contributor credit in the book and a free copy of the book!”
Interested contributors should contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org; they can send a scanned photo or email to find out how to send him a physical copy of the photo. His deadline is Sept. 20.
Scott is also delighted to share that he recently received a $1,200 grant from the W.E. Smith Family Charitable Trust Fund in Hamilton for purchasing copies (beyond his author copies from his publisher) for the purpose of donating them to local libraries, historical societies and photo contributors.
Other Literary Life News:
• Sept. 8, 2:00-3:30 p.m. at Books & Co. at The Greene — Antioch Writers’ Workshop first Free Sunday Mini-Seminar will focus on “Writing Dynamite Dialogue!” led by author Tim Waggoner, who has published nearly 30 novels and three short story collections. Full schedule is available at www.antiochwritersworkshop.com
• Sept. 12, 6:30-8:15 p.m., Dayton Metro Library, Main Branch — Dayton Metro Library (www.daytonmetrolibrary.org) will kick off its Fall 2013 Writing Series with “Poetry Workshop for Time Travelers,” led by prize-winning poetry author Cathryn Essinger.
• Throughout September, local author Katrina Kittle (“Reasons To Be Happy,” “Blessings of the Animals” and other novels; visit www.katrinakittle.com) will be teaching a variety of writing craft classes through the Word’s Worth Writing Center (all sessions are held at the Oakwood Starbucks, 2424 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood). Find out more about these classes or register at www.wordsworthdayon.com
• Oct. 1 is the application deadline for Antioch Writers’ Workshop’s 2nd Annual Fall Retreat, which will be held November 1-3 at the Grailville Retreat Center in Loveland. The retreat will be led by nonfiction author Matthew Goodman (“Eighty Days”) and novelist Sherri Wood Emmons (“The Weight of Small Things”). Visit www.antiochwritersworkshop.com for retreat details and application instructions.