Press-Republican

February 25, 2013

Book honors North Country military memories

By Shawn Ryan
Press-Republican

---- — ROUSES POINT — Jim Rochester merely wanted to preserve his mother’s scrapbook memories from World War II.

That idea blossomed into a book called “Scrapbooks: A Collection So We Won’t Forget,” and a second volume is in the works already.

Of course, it helps when you own your own publishing equipment.

“I took my mom’s old scrapbook of WWII, that’s how it started,” Rochester said from his office at Border Press in Rouses Point.  “I took her old scrapbook, and I started scanning the stories.

“Mainly, it was starting to fall apart.”

MOTHER’S LETTERS

During the war, Rochester’s mother, Agnes, wrote to soldiers from the Champlain and Rouses Point area and kept the letters from them, as well as news clippings from the Press-Republican and other local newspapers about those men. Her scrapbook had been passed down to various family members after her death, but had fallen into disrepair.

Rochester started his restoration mission by scanning the clippings and stories into his computer. When people heard about his endeavor, they started to show him their collections. And so the book was born, preserving history of military members from the North Country.

“I decided before I get out of here, I want to get it all down … I’m 86 years old now. His sister, Elaine Cloutier, is helping him put the books together.

ALL U.S. WAR

Rochester has not limited himself to clippings from just World War II. His book includes entries from the War of 1812, Civil War, World War I and conflicts through the current engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also included clippings of himself and members of his own family — his father, aunts, uncles and a granddaughter who is serving now in the U.S. Navy.

‘IT’S FULFILLING’

The first book has been out for a little more than a month, and reviews have been universally positive.

“I got a response from this girl in California who said it brought back a lot of memories of her brothers when they were in the Marine Corps, so it’s fulfilling,” he said.

He is printing and binding the books in small quantities at Border Press; so far he has sold about 300 copies. Many who buy it are sending it to relatives in the North Country diaspora around the country. 

Scrapbooks: A Collection So We Won’t Forget is available locally at the Corner-Stone Bookshop in Plattsburgh and Cornerstone Drug and Gift in Rouses Point. It is also available online at www.borderpress.net.

2ND BOOK QUICKER

Rochester is going strong on the second volume, with 35 pages already complete and more clippings and stories coming in almost daily.

“Now that I’ve got this one done, a lot of people are contacting me,” Rochester said. “A lot of people were sort of like, they didn’t want to tell their story, but once they’ve seen this, they now want to come in. So I’ve found it really interesting, the things I didn’t know.”

He said he has no plans currently on producing a third volume or increasing his scope much beyond the Northern Tier for the second one. The first book took about two years to produce, but he expects the new one to come together and be available for sale much faster.