Man of many talents: Gus Frederick’s new book focuses on Silverton

July 2011 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, People

By Brenna WiegandGus Frederick\'s book \

What on earth – and Mars – is Gus Frederick up to now? …And where does he find the time?

The latest is the release of his book Silverton, which hits shelves July 25.

Through historical photographs accompanied by informative, sometimes amusing annotations Frederick chronicles the challenges and triumphs of Silverton’s development from all angles: civic infrastructure, farm and industry, schools and education, the business community, transportation, music, sports and theater.

Silverton part, of Arcadia Publishing’s series “Images of America,” is the second compilation-coffee table book for the longtime history buff. A second printing is in the works for his first, Cartoons by Davenport – The Annotated Edition.

Frederick is a volunteer for this year’s Homer Davenport Community Festival, handling media and marketing; he also happens to be heavily entrenched in the current “Streetscape” debate.

A prolific writer on community and interplanetary affairs, he works as a multimedia specialist for the State of Oregon.

He was recently appointed to the Silverton Planning Commission and maintains a blog where he has shared a time-lapse film of the repaving of downtown streets.

Frederick’s penchant for history began in high school, where he explored that of Native Americans.Images of America: Silverton by Gus Frederick

He also got into photography and filmmaking, creating a number of amateur films, including The Silverton Connections.

He would go on to be part of a local TV show, Under the Oak; VHS tapes of the show are available at the Silver Falls Library.

The Space Age was launched around the time that Frederick was born, and he soaked up its wonder.  Study and imagination eventually lead to a presentation on his idea for life on Mars before a NASA group exploring the topic.

His father, Karl Frederick, had a Ph.D. in law but became a legislative lobbyist after having to serve divorce papers to a fellow on Christmas Eve.

This allowed his son to rub elbows with Tom McCall and Oregon lawmakers, a role as an honorary legislative page, and a front seat to the formation of Oregon’s “Bottle Bill” as well as its “Beach Bill.”

“Oregon has always been known for innovative stuff,” Frederick said.

Persuaded by his friend Rick Ernst, Frederick enlisted in the Navy as a photographer a couple years out of high school.

The Navy provided training at its Photography “A” School in Pensacola, Fla., where he found himself ahead of the curve through prior experience and mentoring from an uncle.

His habit of drawing cartoons made Frederick popular with other enlistees, who would trade a more favorable “watch” in return for a cartoon. Then it was off to a 13-month tour of duty in Iceland.

“When you weren’t engaged in duties such as shooting photo IDs or damage assessments, you were encouraged to stay up to date on your craft and go take as many pictures and films as possible,” he said.

He had done some spelunking as a kid, so Frederick was thrilled at the chance to explore Icelandic caves.This 1940 photo of Evans Valley farmer Paul Pinson and the mammoth tusk he uncovered is one of the treasures in Gus Frederick\'s book.

Trekking through the lava tubes, he hatched an idea. Knowing there was discussion about the possibility of human habitation of Mars, and that Mars possessed similar lava tubes, he speculated on the viability of lava caves as “readymade habitats” for people. He wrote a thesis which was accepted for presentation at the 1999 International Mars Society Convention. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin attended the conference, as did James Cameron, who intends to film a 3D movie about Mars.

Before he knew it, Frederick was making his case before the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts.

The Navy recruiting jingle, “It’s Not Just a Job; It’s An Adventure” rang true for Frederick, whose motto echoes, “You get out of it what you put into it.”

Although he still sports a “Mars or Bust” button on his lapel, Frederick is focusing his energies closer to home these days. When the opportunity to delve into Silverton’s annals arose, Frederick took to it like a Mars visitor to a lava tube.

Through countless hours of research and the generous help from others, he unearthed a goldmine of fascinating photos from Silverton’s earliest days and ended up in a quandary over narrowing it down to the book’s 205 images.

He also emerged from the stacks with this year’s Homer Davenport Parade Grand Marshals in hand – four generations of Davenports.

Frederick plans to hold book signings during Homer Davenport Community Festival at Silverton Country Museum and GeerCrest Farm.  To find the book locally, try the museum, Stone Buddha, Silver Creek Deli & Mercantile, Marion County Historical Society and Salem’s Book Bin. Borders, Barnes & Noble and Powell’s will carry the book and it can be pre-ordered on Amazon.com.

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