When Henry received a request from Arcadia Publishing asking if she knew of a local author who could put together a book on Doraville’s history, she looked no further than Kelley.
“She asked me if I would be interested and I thought ‘Why not?’,” said Kelley. “It was an accident, I happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
On Sept. 22, Kelley will participate in a book signing for “Images of America: Doraville” at the Doraville Library, 3748 Central Ave. at 7 p.m.
The book, one in a series of many focused on small towns, boasts more than 200 vintage images and memories of early-day Doraville families and the city’s historic milestones and gives a glimpse into present-day Doraville as well, according to a news release.
“People are funny about letting loose of their family pictures,” said Kelley, who experienced initial resistance from residents. “But people who realized the value of it started putting me in touch with their friends and they had a comfort level. Pretty soon people were coming out of the woodwork to tell me about their family with pictures.”
Kelley said Arcadia’s main mission is to preserve small town America’s history with the book series.
During his time visiting with residents and gathering information on the town’s history, Kelley said what he discovered about Doraville was how together the community was 50 to 70 years ago.
“It was like Mayberry … good old folk, hometown people helping people,” he said. “Everybody knew everybody’s business here in Doraville. It changed dramatically over the years and today you don’t have that sense of family that was once here … and so once I got digging I found out really cool things.”
A few of those facts were that back in the ‘70s, there was a disastrous tank farm fire that burned for several days. Also, the city was home to astronaut John Casper, who attended high school in Chamblee; the McDonald’s on Buford Highway was the first one built in Georgia in 1961 and one of the first two stores built by Home Depot in the state was in Doraville, the other in Decatur.
“Once you go into that niche of time you found out some interesting things about the city,” said Kelley. “It gave a whole new perspective of the city to help recall what it was like back then. It made me feel more like a part of the community even though I have not lived it, but just knowing about it made me appreciate it more.”