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March 10, 2010 > Book Review: Union City Oral History Book

Book Review: Union City Oral History Book

By Robert A. Garfinkle

Local historian Myrla Raymundo has published her second book on the history of Union City. This book is primarily a collection of about 200 interviews that she conducted with Union City leaders, City staff members, and civic-minded people both past and present. For the early founders of what is now Union City, she of course had to rely on documents in the Union City Historical Museum and/or reference materials given to her by living relatives of these pioneers. Myrla is the founder and current Chief Executive Officer of the museum, so access to its collection of materials on Union City historical figures was right at hand. For almost all of the people in the book, she includes a photograph of the interviewee.

The author opens the book with a brief history of the Costanoan Indians who lived in this area prior to the settlement by the Spaniards and Yankees in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The next part of the book covers the pioneers of Union City. I found it interesting to be able to put a name, face, and biography of people who are familiar to me, solely because a street (or area) bears their last names, such as Ezra Decoto and John B. Alvarado along with Henry Smith, John C. Whipple and Ebenezer H. Dyer among others.

Myrla then covers additional early settlers and industries in Union City and gives readers information about some of the landmarks and a general overview of the city. The seventh part of the book consists of the oral histories, given in alphabetical order. I found this to be a fascinating read. Having been actively involved in Union City politics since the late 1970s, I personally know many of the people Myrla interviewed. Now I know something about their lives and accomplishments.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read local history or may be related to one of the people whose lives are told in this work. I know that this book will also be a great asset to future historians studying the history of Union City. The book is for sale at the Union City Historical Museum on Smith Street in Union City.

"Union City Oral History Book" by: Myrla Raymundo, 214 pages; $20.00 (paperback; ISBN-13: 978-0-9715211-6-2)

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