Dianna and Don Gravemen spent the evening of their 25th wedding anniversary on separate floors of their house, working furiously to edit the book they were putting together.
The couple, who reside in St. Charles, meant to celebrate their anniversary later with a picnic by the river. Six months later, with the book coming out for release, they still haven't had the time.
The Gravemans spent last summer working on a new book about St. Charles that will be released March 23. "St. Charles: Les Petites Cotes," now part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series, chronicles through photographs the growth of the city from the 1850s to today.
The project was a natural fit for the couple. Dianna works in the publishing industry; Don has long been interested in history.
They spent a busy summer juggling the book project with Don's business trips and a family vacation to Florida. But at the end of it all, they say working on it brought them closer together.
When Dianna came across the "Images of America" series she was surprised to learn it didn't include a book about St. Charles. She sent a query to the publishing company and soon was working on a proposal for the project with her husband.
"I was interested in having a book credit, but the more I got to think about it, I thought what a knowledgeable resource I have in my spouse," she said.
The pair gathered most of the photos with help from Bill Popp, archivist for the St. Charles County Historical Society. Popp pulled out photos on file in the society's archives, and they sorted and selected the best. The Gravemans did much of the photo scanning themselves, logging long hours on Saturdays at the historical society.
Included in the book are photos from the Gravemans' collection and pictures from both of their families. Dianna's grandmother, Virginia Musterman Tschudin, was among the first antique dealers on Main Street. Dianna said that in compiling some information for the book she was able to meet some of her grandmother's friends that she didn't know existed.
Photos of Don's family, which has been in the area for four generations, are also in the book.
Dianna said that by writing the book with Don, she realized that after 25 years of marriage you can still learn new things about your spouse.
"It was interesting to discover we don't think the same when it comes to organization and laying things out," she said. "We developed an insight to how the other thinks."
They realized Dianna was a little better at the editing and organization, while Don should take the lead on the historical information. Above all, they said, they learned the importance of flexibility.
"Mutual interest helps strengthen the bond," Don said.
Dianna said she thought writing the book made them look at their city a little differently.
"When we take walks by the river we think about it in terms of the people who have come in the past and come before us," she said.
The pair are already working on their next book for the "Images of America" series. The focus is still under development, but Dianna said it probably would be about Missouri's wine country. In this process, they probably will work with five or six groups to collect information and photographs.
"Images of America: St. Charles Les Petites Cotes."
Meet authors Dianna and Don Graveman
1-3 p.m. March 28, Main Street Books, 307 S. Main St., St. Charles
1-3 p.m. April 4, Barnes & Noble, 320 Mid Rivers Center Drive, St. Peters
The book retails for $21.99 and will available for purchase beginning March 23.