Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Book relates nuts and bolts of history

December 1, 1999

John C. Lenahan Sr. considers himself the guardian of Tonganoxie's history. And, apparently, many others agree.

Lenahan just published his second volume of "Yesteryears," a pictorial history of the Tonganoxie community.

"They have been asking for it," the 76-year-old said. "I've had a lot encouragement. You might call it the rest of the story."

It makes sense that Lenahan would be drawn to the stories that illustrate this area's early days.

"I was born and raised here," Lenahan said as he looked out on downtown through the window of his hardware store.

In 1981, Lenahan completed his first edition of "Yesteryears." Since then, he's sold 1,500 to 2,000 copies.

"It would be nice if they wanted that many this time," he said.

The second volume, which takes the reader on a tour of covered bridges, interesting characters and old buildings, is available at Lenahan's store, 515 E. Fourth. Richard Smith, Tonganoxie businessman, served as editor.

"It's interesting, it's a hobby," Lenahan said. "I went a little ape on this. It's just something that I wanted to do."

For years, people from the area have brought Lenahan old photographs. He's displayed many of them throughout his store. His son, John Lenahan Jr., helped copy the photographs.

Later, Herman Karriker took up the job.

"He helped me a lot by taking these old photos and reproducing them," Lenahan said.

Visitors to his hardware store itself a throwback to days gone by often browse the aisles, lingering longer over the displays of old photographs and stories than the nuts, bolts and nails.

"What I do here in the store is create an atmosphere that I enjoy," he said. "I have a lot of customers who don't buy anything. I make a lot of friends. That's the important thing."

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