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Local author chronicles history of Ceres in pictorial book

POSTED August 17, 2010 11:39 p.m.

From its past days as a place where wheat grew in abundance to its contributions to the worlds of entertainment and politics, the history of Ceres is on full display in the latest installment of the “Images of America” series.

“Ceres” details the growth of the town from its founding days, including its development as a rich agricultural community with the introduction of railroad lines and irrigation.

The pictorial history book features more than 200 vintage photographs that author and Ceres Courier Editor Jeff Benziger uses to weave together the story of the town over the last 140 years.

“This is the first book of its kind that has gathered under one cover such an extensive collection of images from Ceres’ history,” Benziger said. “It’s my hope that this work helps to preserve the memories of a place and people that, while gone now, certainly guided the town to what it is today. We need to revisit history to explain why things are today, why a town looks the way it does. I’m fascinated with the process of how cities like Ceres evolve.”

Benziger, 48, has been the editor of the weekly distributed Ceres Courier for 23 years and is well-versed in the history and character of the city, which made the job of narrowing down what made it into the book and what didn’t, a task to be reckoned with.

“This was first and foremost a historical book so I tried to pick out photos that told a good and accurate picture of Ceres and of the key players,” Benziger said. “I wanted a book that a non-Ceres resident could pick up and find interesting.”

Benziger turned to the archives of the Courier, the City of Ceres and the Ceres Historical Society to paint the portrait of Ceres — a task that the history buff thoroughly enjoyed.

“It was a joy for me doing the book since I love history. I found out things about Ceres that I didn't know and I've been here for over 23 years,” Benziger said.

“Ceres,” ($21.99 Arcadia Publishing) goes on sale Monday. It is available at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665.

A book signing is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Ceres Courier at 2940 Fourth St., in Ceres.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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