'Magnolia, Memories & Milestones': Is there a second act in the wings?

"Magnolia, Memories & Milestones," published in 2000 by the Magnolia Community Club, is a big, beautifully illustrated and nicely written coffee-table book that's built to last.

But the book is not necessarily the last word on Magnolia history. After all, the numeral "1" on the book's spine begs the question - can number "2" be far behind?

"There was always the intention that the book would lead toward other stories of Magnolia," Monica Wooten, project manager for the first book, said. "That's why it wasn't chronological."

Wooten said the second book, if it is published - and "if," she said, is still the operative word - would be done under the auspices of the Magnolia Historical Society. The society was born out of the energy and effort surrounding the creation of "Milestones."

A second book would focus on the 1930s through 1950s, Wooten said, and would include more community input, especially from World War II veterans.

"It's an enormous piece of work to balance a book where people are speaking out and still getting in a history of the lighthouse," she said of the high-priority lighthouse feature. "It's going to be a juggling act. We've had a lot of new people offer new stories and photos."

Other potential subject areas cited by Wooten: Magnolia architecture and the stories of houses, trees and creeks.

The idea for the first book came out of the Magnolia Community Club in 1999. Wooten, a University of Washington graduate in English and creative writing, was asked to organize the effort.

"We had a dream team of writers," she said.

The initial press run of 1,500, aided by a city grant, was followed by another 1,000. A third press run of 2,000 ran the total book count up to a stunning 4,500, or nearly half the number of households on Magnolia - the kind of market penetration that would turn a New York publisher Northwest green with envy.

Wooten said a second book would require another search for artifacts, stories and photographs. Photographs, she pointed out, can be scanned and given back to their owners.

Often, after a community group has succeeded in publishing a community history, the question of a sequel will produce clenched jaws and mumbled curses - the process is notoriously difficult.

Not in Magnolia's case, Wooten said.

"The process was pretty harmonious," Wooten noted. "It's unusual to have a project that involves 100 people from the community get along as well as we did."

Wooten won't talk about any kind of timeline for a new book, only that, "It's a big wish and we're making definite strides."

The Magnolia Historical Society has 40 members on its roster, Wooten said. Bud Nicola is membership chair. He can be reached at 284-5232. Wooten said new members are always welcome.

Meanwhile, "Magnolia Memories & Milestones" is available at Magnolia's Bookstore or through the Magnolia Historical Society at halathome@aol.com.

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