Museum seeks best Dearborn story

DEARBORN — What if you could buy a book featuring your favorite story about living or growing up in Dearborn? What if you could help write the book?

That’s the idea behind a new project just launched by the Dearborn Historical Museum to collect 300 stories from residents and former residents by Thursday – and publish the results in time for Christmas shopping.

“This is the quickest turnaround for any book deal I ever heard of,” said L. Glenn O’Kray, vice chairman of the Dearborn Historical Commission, who is supervising the project for the museum.

“We’re asking people to write us a very short story — about 900 words — and get it to us by Thursday, October 20,” O’Kray said. “We’d like to have the book ready for sale by November 15.”

The goal of the project is to create a book that will help provide a “sense of place” about Dearborn, its culture and history, O’Kray said.

“Of course we’re also hoping that people will want to see their names and their stories in print,” O’Kray said. “This could be an important fundraiser at a time when the Historical Museum is in deep financial trouble.”

All proceeds from sales of the book will go to support the museum, which has begun a membership drive to help keep its doors open. The City Council has allocated funds for the museum through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Funding is uncertain after that.

Publishing costs are being underwritten by the Museum Guild of Dearborn, a nonprofit group of more than 20 clubs that support the museum. The book is expected to be available in paperback for less than $20 at the museum’s gift shop at the McFadden-Ross House, 915 S. Brady.

O’Kray said he’s not concerned that writers won’t be able to meet the deadline.

“When people are faced with a deadline, they tend to put things off till the last minute anyway,” he said. “We’re just asking them to do it now. I believe that if we set goals that seem almost impossible and put all of our energies into doing them immediately, we can accomplish a lot.”

The kinds of stories the museum is looking for can include a personal anecdote or experience relating to Dearborn – or maybe a yarn about a particular person, perhaps a teacher or neighbor, who had a major impact on the writer’s life.

“We’re very flexible,” O’Kray said. “Did something particularly good or bad happen to you in Dearborn? Do you have any great stories about raising your family in Dearborn? Do you have any stories regarding city hall?

“I’ve found that everybody has a story to tell, from kindergartners to retirees. Some residents remember meeting Henry Ford. Others have memories of living through bombings in Lebanon in the 1970s. Others have special memories of stores like Muirhead’s or Crowley’s.

“We may not publish everything we get, but the more submissions, the better the book will be. If you have family members or friends who would like to write their story, ask them to do so. We encourage students to write as well.”

Those interested in the project should email a story of no more than 900 words plus a title line to no later than Thursday.

Mailed submissions can be sent to O’Kray at 752 Wagner Court, Dearborn, MI, 48124. For more information, call O’Kray at 313-724-8203.

Writers also are asked to sign and return the following release statement: “I give the Dearborn Historical Commission and Museum Guild of Dearborn permission to use any or all parts of these materials for such scholarly and educational purposes as the Dearborn Historical Commission shall determine are appropriate. I further agree that the Dearborn Historical Commission owns all rights to the materials submitted. I recognize that editors may choose to make changes to my submission and will contact me only if the changes are substantial.”