When Penn High School English teacher Pete DeKever would take remembrance walks on Memorial Day weekends in Mishawaka, he became more and more aware of the profound sense of history in the city as the echoes of the past spoke:
The words of Robert F. Kennedy ringing out to an impassioned crowd in the 100 block of South Main Street during the 1968 Indiana Democratic Primary campaign. …. The vibrant tones of early rock-n-roll and Doo Wop cascading out of the popular teen-age hangout Bonnie Doon’s Restaurant in the 50’s and 60’s. …. The solemnity of walking along West Battell Street past the house where Paul Fechner lived, the Mishawaka native who died in a World War II Prisoner of War camp.
DeKever’s book, Walking Mishawaka: Self-Guided Tours of Historic Sites in the Princess City, weaves historical portraits of Mishawaka landmarks into present-day jaunts. His words paint the picture of 72 significant locations in Mishawaka, and 32 graves in historic cemeteries. The book is organized into seven walking tours.
It’s a chance for a Fitbit society to get a glimpse at Mishawaka’s rich and storied past.
Walking Mishawaka: Self-Guided Tours of Historic Sites in the Princess City pays homage to many of Mishawaka’s historic buildings and citizens.
“I was inspired to write the book by my own walks through Mishawaka and research about many topics in Mishawaka history,” DeKever said. “The genre is historical non-fiction, local history.”
DeKever said that the purpose of his book is to increase the public's understanding and appreciation of Mishawaka history and their love of Mishawaka.
“The biggest challenge in writing the book was finding different ways to convey the topics so that I was not repeating myself,” DeKever said. “The challenge we faced in publishing was integrating photos and maps and working through the proofreading process.”
DeKever found himself becoming a student of the city’s history as he chronicled his walking experiences.
“My favorite part of the process was gaining a more in-depth understanding of Mishawaka history, place by place,” DeKever said.
As an English/Language Arts teacher, DeKever will use his publishing experiences to enhance student learning at Penn.
“Writing the book gave me additional experience with research, drafting, and revision, which I can share with students,” DeKever said.
DeKever’s book can be purchased from him, and copies of Walking Mishawaka: Self-Guided Tours of Historic Sites in the Princess City are also on sale for $20 at the Hannah Lindahl Children's Museum, Gene's Camera Store, Will's Jewelry Store, and Mishawaka Art & Frame.
Walking Mishawaka: Self-Guided Tours of Historic Sites in the Princess City is DeKever’s fourth book. His future projects include a biography of Rose Hartwick Thorpe, the famous Mishawaka-born poet, and a history of the 27 state championships his teams at Penn have won in social studies and Spell Bowl.