A lost cave. The real origin of the name Pleasantville. A portrait of the village during "the war years."
These are just a few of the topics Pleasantville's Bert Ruiz explores in his new Images of America addition, Pleasantville.
"Local history is precious," said Ruiz. "Pleasantville's roots date back to the start of this great nation and is absolutely fascinating."
Although he's not a native of Pleasantville, Ruiz has been ingrained in the village since he enrolled in Pace University in 1972, right after he was honorably discharged from the United State Marine Corps having served two combat tours in Vietnam.
"Within a month I managed to get a job at Foley's Club Lounge working the the ever-popular Harry Foley," Ruiz reflected.
Since that time, the now 61-year-old father of four has made the village home by becoming an active member in the community—from coaching with the Dads Club of Pleasantville from 1986 to 2002 and joining the Mount Pleasant Historical Society in 2004. He now also serves as commander of the Pleasantville Fancher Nicoll American Legion Post 77.
He left a Wall Street job in 1998 and starting writing history books, starting with The Colombian Civil War in 2001.
Most recently, he co-authored, with the aid of the Mount Pleasant Historical Society, the Town of Mount Pleasant Images of America edition in 2009. George and Claudine Waterbury were Ruiz's co-authors for the Mount Pleasant edition.
"I wanted to write the book on Pleasantville immediately after finishing the Mount Pleasant book," said Ruiz. "I just needed to build up my energy. I fully understood that Pleasantville could stand on its own and have its own book outside of the Mount Pleasant publication."
With encouragement from Mayor Peter Scherer and Village Historian Carsten Johnson, Ruiz started the research process.
"The most interesting fact about Pleasantville is I discovered the original name of the village," he teased. "Pleasantville residents will be most surprised with my book with the chapter on the lost Pleasantville Cave and with the chapter on the Flats."
The 127-page book, due out on April 8, is chock full of pictures, maps, newspaper articles and other documents that illustrate the village's rich history, dating back to its Native American inhabitants.
Ruiz's passion for local history is something he hopes will rub off on the younger Pleasantville generations.
"Everyone should read this book...particularly the young," he said. "Emerson wrote...the past instructs, the future invites. History allows this."
"Images of America: Pleasantville" will be available on April 8 and can be pre-ordered from Amazon. The book is dedicated to the late Leonard "Lenny" Joyner of Pleasantville.