David J. Weber, Book Review Editor
Early Days in Escondido. By Frances Beven Ryan. Illustrated by Lewis C. Ryan. (Escondido, Ca., Swadell Lithographers, Inc., 1970). Illustrated. 175 pages. $8.95.
Reviewed by Wilmer Shields who is well known for his notable collection of over 2,500 books by San Diego authors. He has lived in San Diego since 1910, and has been a member of the Board of Directors of the San Diego History Center for 17 years, serving as secretary for 14 years. He is a member of the special gifts committee of the San Diego Public Library, and a former secretary of the Board of Directors for the Museum of Man in San Diego.
With the publication recently of Early Days in Escondido another valuable block was placed in the foundations of American history. Historians fully recognize the importance of these local area histories. The authors of these books are compelled to work in original materials. They are the explorers searching, sifting, and sorting new material for other historians. The writer of the County history will make use of the local area histories, the State historian of the County histories, and finally the National historians of the States!
The value of the handsomely printed Early Days in Escondido is not only in its interest to local readers, but also in its original contributions to county history. The book is thoroughly home-made. The author, Frances Beven Ryan, was born in Escondido Valley of a pioneer family dating back to 1860. The illustrator, Lewis C. Ryan, has been connected with the Valley for over fifty years. And the book was printed in Escondido.
The undertaking was obviously a labor of love. Mrs. Ryan knew not only where to seek the material she needed, but she could draw heavily on her own memory. The sketches that complement Mrs. Ryan’s lively “skitches” (her term) are called by her talented husband “enlivened old-time photographs.”
A tantalizing feature of the book is the abundance of potentially interesting subjects introduced (people, places, incidents) without sufficient space to develop them.
We should be satisfied with what the Ryans have brought us. “Us” would include Escondidans old and new, others in the area interested in contrasting yesterday with today, and of course historians in search of pre-collected original historical material.