Several weeks back, Editor emeritus Jim Collins wrote in his weekly News-Herald column of the upcoming anniversary of the city of Mentor. As Mentor prepares to celebrate its fiftieth, Collins wondered who would be the local historians that could paint a portrait of the transformation of Mentor, Ohio from a small rural based village to a rose capital of the nation, to its current expansive self. Without a specific historical society and with many of its original history books celebrating the Mentor of decades earlier, I found an answer to Jim Collins inquiry when I met Barbara Snell Davis in March. As current president of the Fairport Harbor Historical Society, I witness our accessions volunteers Julia and Louise catalog new library and artifact additions monthly. Our collection of local history books about Lake County grew by one in March and in my short skims and scans into her book chapters, it is apparent that Barbara Davis' narrative of growing up in Mentor parallels the growth of Mentor. Roses to Retail - Growing up with Mentor (2011) can be that definitive anniversary history book.
Mentor is examined in its early years prior to WWI. Chapter III in her book celebrates the beginning of another form of wealth to Mentor, the rise of the 1920's nurserymen to the area. Chapter V revisits the old village streets and businesses. West Mentor's Strip Mall housed Shurk's Dime Store, Jackett's Confectioners, Swaine's Hardware, and Cash Market over time. Other chapters recall the original schools, first churches, and local personalities of early Mentor days. Roses to Retail is a narrative that uses the many references readily available to collectively take the reader on a still evolving journey into a city's history then and now.
As Mentor, the City of Choice prepares to celebrate its fiftieth in 2013, Barbara Snell Davis' personal narrative should be on this summer's reading list.