A local author who enjoys writing about Sedalia’s history believes looking back helps others to look inward, which brings the past alive.
Rebecca Carr Inhauser’s new book “Past & Present Sedalia” is the fourth in a series by Arcadia Publishing. Imhauser has written more than 14 books with many highlighting the history of Sedalia. The new book, which hit the stands Nov. 4, is a pictorial of past and present Sedalia.
The 95-page book is written in five chapters; Foundations, Downtown, Schools and Churches, Homes and Highways, and Entertainment and Recreation.
“It’s a national series and … I’m grateful that Sedalia has been honored to be selected and that they think our history is that rich,” Imhauser said. “Because most of the cities they publish are larger markets.
“There’s something about Sedalia that they recognize and appreciate,” she continued. “Each book is from a different angle. This is one that compares the past with the present.”
Imhauser said it took about a year to compile the photos and information for the book. She added the challenge was making sure photos from the other three books weren’t repeated for the fourth. Many photos depict historical buildings from the past; another challenge was finding current photos of the same building.
“For example, Broadway School is no longer there, but Central Bank is,” she said. “So that really wouldn’t qualify for some of the pictures.
“The challenge was to find buildings that qualified — it was a fun challenge,” she added. “The reason it took so long was because I went through a lot of pictures.”
Imhauser said she enjoys writing about Sedalia because of the people, their stories and their relationships.
“This book is about buildings, one of the other books in the series was about people,” she said. “I still look at the buildings and I see the people who built them.
“But more than anything, I see the people who inhabited them,” she continued. “The people who lived in them, did business in them, the relationships they developed. Because I’m all about relationships and the character of the people.”
For Imhauser, Sedalia’s historical buildings spell out the story of “character” for its people, especially the buildings from the Great Depression era.
“They represent the fortitude of Sedalians to keep going, in spite of adversity,” she explained.
Imhauser said history often starts with looking at a picture and then stories come from the photos.
“That was what was fun about this project, it was fun talking with people,” she said. “… A picture spurs memories.”
Imhauser said she was interested in doing the “Past & Present” project because she believes learning begins, especially for young people, with the present and then the past.
“I do a lot of speaking, and when I speak to young groups I try to show something present-day,” and then work backwards,” she said. “Because once they have that connection then history comes to life.”
As she was working on the book she realized downtown Sedalia was once again reaching a pinnacle as more and more businesses open.
“That’s exciting to see that kind of progress, there is a lot of progress,” she noted. “This book came at a good time. Downtown is probably at the peak that I’ve seen since owning buildings downtown.
“It’s an entirely new generation of visionaries who are working with the existing businesses, complementing them,” she continued. “I think we have different ideas, but with the same goals, and I think our goals are preservation. We recognize what we have is important.”
Historic buildings offer Sedalia a sense of place, Imhauser said.
“You just feel rooted,” she added. “Some of the stories tug at your heartstrings.”
Imhauser said she was thankful for her mother, Betty Wasson Singer’s, contribution to the book.
“She and I have worked together for a long time,” Imhauser noted. “Anything I do she’s there supporting.”
Working on books together with her mother helped her learn more about her own family. This is what she hopes her historical books will do also.
“I hope the book with pictures will spur discussions among families and help people learn things they may not have otherwise,” she said. “That’s my goal.”
She added her takeaway on historical writing is “looking back makes us look inward.”
“As I look at history, especially the comparison of the past and the present, it makes me think of what we are doing today,” she said. “What we are leaving for people to look back on.”
Imhauser will host a book signing for “Past & Present Sedalia” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 at Nostalgia Vintage Apparel & Marketplace, 515 S. Ohio Ave., and from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16 at Reader’s World, 1400 S. Limit Ave.
For more information, visit www.beckyimhauser.com.