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This book was possible through the darkroom talents of Leigh Lemke who developed film and printed and screened almost all the pictures the author took for this book, and copied and screened the few that were taken by others. When I told Leigh that I was going to publish a picture book with hundreds of screened black and white photos, she didn't even wince; she just said "What did I do to deserve this?" I promised her I would give her full credit in the book. This is it, Leigh. And at right is Leigh.

But the book is what it is because of the cooperation of a great many people. The staff of Yelvington Publications weekly newspapers gave me the time to do write and photograph, put up with my excitement at the concept, read preliminary copy, read proof, helped compose the pages, and helped in countless other ways. We refer specifically to Debbie Sivells, typesetter; Terry Sabaleski, receptionist, billing clerk, tour manager, all-around right and left hand; and Patty Schrempp-Hoover, general manager of Yelvington Publications, who took on some of my chores to give me time to work on this book, fed my ego and did much of the pasteup. And I must add Pat Fogleman, darkroom technician, who printed the final pictures for the book.

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Then there was my one-time competitor and business foe Cleon Birkmeier, now a resident of Murphysboro and publisher of a group of Southern Illinois newspapers. He once was Illinois general manager of the Journal newspapers and a New Baden resident. Cleon read early copy, added encouragement and suggestions, helped with the layout and arranged the production details. Unlike most books, this one was printed on a rotary offset press at the American Press plant in West Frankfort, arranged and overseen by Cleon. Cleon helped me generously, but also made a buck for his employers. That is his genius.

Cleon and my staff helped me do the impossible: to take this book from concept to the press in a little over four months. That's at least eight months shorter than normal.

Then there are the people who consented to be interviewed for the essays that intersperse the pictures in this book. It is a great feeling to know that you can call on people from such varied walks of life, power bases and environments and get their immediate cooperation. I am flattered. All - old acquaintances and new - have talked freely and openly. Each interview has been revealing and, to me, ranged between interesting and ve delighted in everyone with whom I have talked, learned to understand and respect their views. I am only sorry I could not have had the time free to do many more interviews. There are many more stories to be told, and people willing to tell them.

There are all those people who- helped me with my failing memory, who suggested pictures, who helped me recall names. They include Charles and Mae Baugh, Stanley and Mary Laquet, Ed and Norma Belz, Nancy Macklin, Dick Stanley, Bob Rice, and many others I called at nigh, or on weekends, to ask a question. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Marie Kurkey who did all of the above, and gave a final reading to what she so politely called my "manuscript."

Of course, the contributors include the friends of a lifetime in East St. Louis, black and white, who have shared the experiences that give me the empathy, I hope, to travel throughout the town with comprehension and understanding of what I see; that enable me still today to share in the pride of every accomplishment of East St. Louis, and shudder with compassion at its failures.

When I was editor of the Metro-East Journal I would step outside the door at 425 Missouri Avenue, look up and down the street, take a deep breath and say to myself "This is my town." Taking the pictures revived that emotion. I still feel very strongly about East St. Louis and the opportunities for the people who live there.




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