Two former Middletown residents teamed up to capture the spirit and history of the borough in a new book, “Middletown Borough.” The book, due to hit store shelves January 2009, displays the town’s history through photography collected by the authors.
David Kagan and childhood pal Edward “Ted” Sunbery labored over the summer to collect information and photographs from neighbors. The result is a tribute to the place they called home for many years and one that has personal roots for Kagan.
A fourth-generation descendant of Middletown’s founder, George Fisher, Kagan said the love for this town is in his blood. His mother, Edith (Hickerman) Kagan was one of the founding members of the Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
After finding articles he had written and photos of family, as well as the community, Kagan knew this project would be worthwhile.
“Middletown is so very much in my heart,” the author said. “It’s a true labor of love; I don’t do I for the money.”
Kagan, author of the book “Pine Creek Villages,” which recorded the area in both personal and professional photos, has had a lot of help in the process of collecting images. In a community effort, many have been collected through simply approaching residents and asking to scan their photos into the computer.
The idea of documenting a piece of Middletown history came to Kagan after his parents passed away; his mother in 2002 and his father in 2006. An important project to the author, he plans to dedicate the book to his late mother and father.
Ted Sunbery has been instrumental in the project, traveling door-to-door with Kagan to scan photos and meet with residents. “I’m very excited about the project,” said Sunbery. He and Kagan grew up next door to each other on High Street, graduating from Middletown Area High School in 1965 and 1964, respectively. The men called on many neighbors and friends of the family to help document the town’s growth.
“One of my favorite photos is of the Union Canal carrying float boats. Most people don’t realize the importance of the canal. It was the area’s bread and butter.”
Working with local residents, churches and photographers, Kagan has already assembled one-third of the photos and captions for the 230-image book. He noted that local resident, Grace DeHart, provided over 50 of the photos that will be used in the publication. Some of the photos include the town’s bicentennial, historical pictures of B’nai Jacobs Synagogue, Middletown Historical Society and the Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church
“Most people are happy to hear about the project,” Kagan said. “They are happy to not only have their family photos in the book, but to be able to share them with others.”
“Middletown Borough,” from Arcadia Publishing Company is part of the “Images of America” series. It will be available in stores early 2009.