A new book from Arcadia Publishing and the History Press uses pictures to tell the story of the last three centuries in Mesquite. The book, “Images of America: Mesquite,” is written by lifelong resident Art Greenhaw, whose father’s and grandfather’s personal collections contributed to the majority of the content.
Greenhaw said he was inspired to create the book after he lost his father, Frank Greenhaw.
“I realized how important my collection of historic photos was,” Art said. “I am sitting on photos now that are archived in the Dallas Public Library [as part of the Holley-McWhorter-Greenhaw Collection]. They are maintaining all of this collection for us in perpetuity.”
Among the collection are three, possibly four, generations worth of photos including tintype photos that Art’s great-grandfather, Nathaniel Holley, and his children passed down through the family.
“That’s who the book is dedicated to,” Art said.
Frank Greenhaw was an amateur photographer who stayed on the cutting edge of Polaroid photography.
“We sold Polaroids at McWhorter-Greenhaw, so he always had the latest Polaroid,” Art said.
When he first began looking to put together a book, Art was put in touch with Arcadia Publishing by former Mesquite Public Library Services director Jeannie Johnson.
“I have always admired this publisher and this series,” Art said. “They are doing a super job. They have really found their niche – local histories. This particular book is really showcasing that wonderful midcentury period when Mesquite was at its greatest golden age in terms of growth and optimism – the period just after WWII until about 1964. It’s a photographic celebration of the history of the city.”
He points out that people can draw strength from some of the images and look toward the future. He said Nathaniel Holley’s entire family was wiped out in the plague of 1891, but he picked himself up and started a new family, which spawned the McWhorter, Greenhaw and Shands families.
“If a gentleman like that can survive and prosper, some of our greatest problems, as great as they are … it puts it more in perspective that we can solve these problems with the right perseverance and dynamic leadership,” Art said.
Among the unique images in the book are images from the World of Animals theme park and the Mesquite High School fire in 1952, which required several classes to be relocated to local churches and other area locations.
“Who would have known that Mesquite had a major tourist destination called ‘World of Animals’ that was open every day that was unlike anything anywhere basically in the country?” Art said.
The book is available online at historypress.net or locally at Paperbacks Plus, Pieced Together Studio and Mesquite Ace Hardware. A portion of the proceeds from the book will help upgrade some private and public areas of the city, particularly downtown Mesquite, which is a passion of Art’s.