Mel Elzea visits with members of VAHS
The Vandalia Area Historical Society greatly appreciates the attendance at their July 19 meeting in the Museum Genealogy Library.
Vandalia native, Mel Elzea, was the guest speaker. He told the group about a book he was writing titled “All About m.e.” He spoke of the first eight years of his life, which were spent in Vandalia, and how they shaped his character, his life, and his career. He also gave the VAHS ideas about it might grow and promote the Historical Society in Vandalia.
“It’s good to be home,” Elzea said at the beginning of his presentation.
He told those in attendance that they can be very proud to be a part of what the Historical Society is doing in Vandalia.
He reflected on a time when he asked his father when he got out of the depression. His father answered “son, I never did.” He said “I believe tomorrow, we can get back into it.”
Elzea told those in attendance that “this town deserves you because you are all winners.”
He challenged folks to contribute their talents to the VAHS, just like he will be doing from 400 miles away.
“The boundaries that we set, there’s a legal boundary and a reason why we have city limits but Vandalia’s bigger than the city limits,” Elzea said. “…We’ve expanded the city limits because we’re not limiting ourselves because we live here…”
He reflected on how the town’s founder Aaron McPike used the railroad to get commodities out of town, helping it grow.
Elzea also mentioned one of Vandalia’s many successes and that is how so many youth have grown up in the area and have went on to successful lives.
“What this town has done, what this region has done…is it has exported its youth,” he said. “It has educated them with their hard work, sent them on to higher education. You’ve promoted them, backed them, supported them, and you’ve given them what they wanted to do. But we’ve got to get them back, not to live here, but get them back behind us so they understand their roots…This time, don’t let history pass you up.”
He discussed some of the Vandalia history from his book. He said he was going to give a first copy of his book to Teague for the museum. The museum is open on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and on Sundays from 12-3 p.m. Individual tours may be arranged by calling Charlene Teague at 594-3026 or Pat Trower at 594-3999. The VAHS meetings are held at 6:30 p.m. on the third Friday of each month at the Museum Genealogy Library. Everyone is welcome to attend.
-Ron Schott, of The Vandalia Leader, and VAHS’ Charlene Teague contributed to this story