With a master's degree in history, Michael Smookler thought he'd be a historian. But he wound up in construction. So, after retirement, the "history nut" turned to visual and living history as an author of books on Montara and the San Mateo County coast.
His next one is "Colma: Images of America" (Arcadia Publishing). Packed with photos of people events, maps and places from the 19th century on, it covers a city "I found to be a very unique place,"
With 73 percent of its 2.2 square miles in 17 cemeteries, with a population of 1.5 million deceased versus 1,500 living, Colma may not appeal to all living readers.
But Smookler retells Colma's past, when a growing population prompted city fathers to order thousands of deceased relocated in the early 1900s. It has photos from the city's new history museum.
"I was able to meet so many interesting residents with stories they were eager to share," he said. "When they see the pictures, they are so tickled by them. It brings back memories and I'm able to share those memories with them."
"Colma" will be available at Moon News and Bay Book Company as of the week of April 9.