Bits and Pieces: Legendary locals focus of Jollota’s third book

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photo“Legendary Locals of Vancouver” by Pat Jollota.

Pat Jollota has collected a who’s who of influential residents in her latest book, “Legendary Locals of Vancouver.” Jollota is best known for her 20 years of service on the Vancouver City Council, but a place in city government wasn’t why she and her husband first moved to area.

“I moved to Vancouver for its history. After retiring from L.A. Police Department, my husband and I looked for a place that still had its history,” she said.

Jollota has written two other books, on the history of downtown Vancouver and Camas. “Legendary Locals” focuses on the people who helped shape Vancouver, from its inception as a fort to the present city on the river. The book unfolds through small stories and rare photos.

“We’ve got a legendary mix of locals in Vancouver. I’ve included in bad guys too, because I’ve seen other types of these books that only include successful people. Bad guys are as much part of our history, too.”

The author found hundreds of photos from family albums and explored multiple historic archives, from the local Masonic and Elk clubs to the Library of Congress. What surprised Jollota the most was how many people, whose names show up on today’s streets and parks, had been forgotten. Like Gretchen Fraser, known as the “flying housewife from Vancouver,” who took the first Gold Medal in downhill slalom for any American, male or female, at the 1948 Winter Olympics.

“What I would like to do is to put plaques in all the parks that gives a little bit of history about the person it’s named for,” Jollota said.

“History is not dates and presidents. … It’s the people who are fascinating, the story. People who turn around and say they hate history are fascinated with the stories.”

“Legendary Locals of Vancouver” is available at local retailers, online bookstores or through Arcadia Publishing, 888-313-2665 or http://arcadiapublishing.com

— Ashley Swanson

Praise keeps coming for college instructor’s book

Ismet Prcic, a drama instructor at Clark College, has been in the spotlight recently for his accomplishments as an author.

His first novel, “Shards,” is based on Prcic’s experiences growing up in war-torn Bosnia, and has received regional as well as national attention.

“Shards” was:

• On The New York Times’ list of 100 Notable Books of 2011 (and it earned a glowing New York Times review in October).

• One of six 2012 Book Award winners from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.

• On The Oregonian’s list of the top 10 Northwest Books of 2011.

• Among seven national finalists for the 2011 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize.

His name doesn’t pop up just as the author. Ismet Prcic also is the name of a character, as the author tries to blur the lines between memoir and novel.

“A way to trick people into thinking it’s a memoir is to use some real names,” said Prcic, the subject of a recent story in The Columbian.

“When people read a memoir, they know that no matter what happens, it will turn out OK because the person lived to write the book.”

By the end of “Shards,” however, “There is no clue who is real,” Prcic said. “It has a more visceral effect on the reader.”

— Tom Vogt

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.