English’s Betcher, alumnus Biggs co-author ‘Ames’ pictorial history

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Images of Nikita Khrushchev, Elvis and a flooded South Duff Avenue are three of the many photos in a new pictorial history book by College of LAS faculty member Gloria Betcher and her husband and Ames native, Douglas Biggs.

"Ames” challenged the authors to tell the town’s 150 years of history in 127 pages while placing its “people, institutions and socio-political influences within the larger context of state and national history,” said Betcher, an adjunct associate professor of English who chaired the Ames Historic Preservation Commission for seven years.

The book is one of the Images of America Series by Arcadia Publishing of South Carolina. It can be purchased at local stores or online at arcadiapublishing.com. Royalties from its sale are being donated to the Ames Historical Society.

Biggs is an associate professor of history and associate dean of the College of Natural and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. He received his B.A. and M.A. from ISU in history.

Betcher and Biggs highlighted more than the names and accomplishments of the “great and the good” of the town.

“My personal favorite photos and captions,” Betcher said, “are those that highlight trends in growth and progressive innovation – for example, the first city landfill, the expansion of University Boulevard to make a new gateway to West Ames and the new electrolier street lights on Main Street.

“But, as an Ames City Council member, I may be more of a city infrastructure geek than the average citizen.”

I like the street views. A 1973 photo of South Duff shows a Conoco station selling gas for 36.9 cents a gallon, and a 1969 look at Lincoln Way and Grand includes the old King’s Food Host restaurant, a favorite of mine as a youngster. – Steve Jones