The Vinings Rotarians recently named Susan Kendall its citizen of the year for her book, “Images of America: Vinings,” but Kendall is quick to give the residents of the Cobb County community all of the credit. “This is a community book,” said Kendall, who has managed the Vinings branch of Cobb’s public library system for 15 years. Vinings, a place with some 10,000 people located across the Chattahoochee River from Atlanta, is unincorporated. “There isn’t the village record you’d find in most places,” Kendall said. So she relied on interviews, both firsthand and in old newspapers, to tell the story of the thriving community. As Kendall learned, that is a story that has changed dramatically over the decades.
Q: You’ve been a librarian for close to 40 years. Do you still like your job?
A: I do and I like public libraries because you just never know who is walking in the door next.
Q: How have you liked being a librarian in Vinings?
A: It is a wonderful place to work. Vinings is a very supportive neighborhood. A lot of the people have lived here a long time and have an idea of what a community should be. The library has a very prominent role in that. For years, we have enjoyed support from the Vinings Rotary Club, the Vinings Women’s Village Club and the Vinings Village Civic Club.
Q: How did the book on Vinings come about?
A: It is published by Arcadia Publishing, which does local histories. One of their editors went to The Lovett School and was familiar with the area and how it developed. The editor contacted the library and asked if we knew anyone interested in this project. I said I was but I had nothing on Vinings.
Q: What do you mean?
A: I work in the Vinings branch but I didn’t have pictures or anything about the history of Vinings. The Vinings Historic Preservation Society was able to recommend different people who might have pictures. Other people came forward with articles. Others had pamphlets. I also had to talk to people about what it was like to live here.
Q: Did the project go smoothly?
A: I had all my pictures and I thought I had my narrative. I realized I did not express the community very well, that I had not put the pictures in context. I went back and rewrote the narrative.
Q: Did you enjoy the project?
A: I enjoyed it because of the people. I put together people’s reminiscences and drew from interviews that were published with people who lived here. It fit together well.
Q: What is something that you know about Vinings that you think most people would be surprised by?
A: At the turn of the 20th century, Vinings was a very small rural community served by the railroad. There were a couple of farms, a broom factory and a distillery here. With its big trees, Vinings was a place to escape the heat. People from Atlanta had summer homes here. Up until after World War II, Vinings wasn't a place people would be proud to be from.
Q: What surprised you about Vinings?
A: Quite a bit. There was the distillery but also a year-round ski hill, a stock car racetrack and a golf course. The people who live here are very loyal Vinings people. I always thought of Cobb County as suburban. Vinings is its own neighborhood.
The Sunday Conversation is edited for length and clarity. Writer Ann Hardie can be reached by email at email@example.com.
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