Teacher and author brings personal touch to local history with new book
There is so much history in Genesee County and for the past few years, Anne Marie Starowitz has been writing columns that told the stories of the people and places and events that helped shape Batavia and the surrounding area.
Now she's collected those columns -- revised and updated -- into a newly released book, “Back in the Day, Snapshots of Local History, the Way I See It!”
Starowitz will hold a book signing at 11 a.m. on Dec. 16 at Ken’s Charcoal Pits, located at 59 Main St. in Downtown Batavia.
Starowitz, a retired school teacher of 45 years in Le Roy and Batavia, started substitute teaching after she retired in 2007. She has lived in Batavia her entire life.
She is also on the board of the Holland Purchase Historical Society, which led to her newspaper and newsletter column, which she started a decade ago on artifacts or exhibits at the museum and local history.
“Over that time, people seemed to like the articles,” Starowitz said. “I think they liked the articles where I was in the articles, with my memories. They were more subjective than objective.”
Three years into writing the articles, Starowitz decided she wanted to eventually put the articles together in a book. She has been working on the articles over the last year with editors and putting pictures with the articles.
“But, in the last three years, I’ve really put my heart and soul into it,” Starowitz said. “They’ve been edited, I’ve picked the ones I’ve wanted, and then I self-published the book.”
For each copy of the 300-page book sold, $1 will be donated to families of veterans who suffer from PTSD.
One day when Starowitz was giving a tour of the museum, a group of younger men and women came in, not looking thrilled about being there. Starowitz spent a lot of time wondering what their stories were when someone from the group told her they were from Veterans Hospital PTSD Unit.
“I was so moved looking at them, the young people, younger than my children,” Starowitz said. “I wanted to really thank them for their service.”
As she continued talking with the visitors, she learned more about them.
“I can’t imagine what they went through, but I could see it in their eyes,” Starowitz said. “I never forgot their faces.”
Starowitz is hoping to make people aware of what veterans go through.
When Starowitz is substitute teaching, she shows the students the edited copies, showing them the writing process.
“I think that really made an impression on them,” Starowitz said. “They don’t always like to edit.”
When she was writing the articles, Starowitz enjoyed interviewing people the most.
“When I was little, I remember a horse and wagon coming down the street, delivering milk,” Starowitz said. “A family member from the Branton’s Dairy talked to me about that story. It was interesting because I could relate to that.”
Family members are flying in from all over the United States, and even Africa, to come to Starowitz’s book signing.
“Ken has supported me in so many of my endeavors,” Starowitz said. “I’m really honored to have a book signing at his restaurant.”
Photo (By Howard Owens): Anne Marie Starowitz signing copies of her book at the Holland Land Office Museum this weekend.