PROSPECT — A local author and a newspaper publisher put their heads together to give people a look into the lives of the average Prospect resident.
Prospect resident John Altson recently released “Small Town USA — The People of Prospect Connecticut and Their Stories,” a book that features the personal stories of 47 Prospect residents.
The stories range from an alien encounter to personal loss to why Mayor Robert Chatfield set out to become the mayor.
“There is a little bit of everything in this book. There are some really powerful stories,” Altson said.
Altson turned to Gwenn Fischer, a long-time resident of Prospect and editor and publisher of the Prospect Pages, to help get the word out that he was looking for people to tell their story.
Fischer was interested in the idea and immediately began coming up ideas of who to contact.
“I made some calls and talked to people I know. I said, ‘We would love to have you be part of this,’” Fischer said.
Getting people to share stories for the book proved to be a little difficult.
Altson said he reached out to everyone who lives at Regency at Prospect, the 55 and older community where Altson resides.
“There are 250 people living there. A lot of them said, ‘My life has been boring and I don’t have anything to write about.’ That was either the truth, but I doubt it, or they didn’t want to reveal any personal stories,” Altson said.
Fischer said she also ran into people who were unsure about whether they wanted to be in the book. However, she told them that the book was a collection of stories from multiple people and wouldn’t just focus on them.
“In a couple cases it was difficult to get people to open up, but once I explained they came around,” Fischer said.
Altson said people reading the book wouldn’t learn much about the town itself.
“They would learn some very interesting human interest stories though,” he said.
Besides the setting, Altson said the common narrative running throughout the book is faith.
“If there is one thread it is the thread of faith, the faith that spared people in some extraordinary circumstances,” Altson said.
Altson said he wants to continue writing these types of books with either a second edition of a Prospect book or a similar one in another town.
“There are people that should be in here that I haven’t had a chance to contact,” Fischer said.
She hopes people read the first book and find inspiration in it.
“Their stories are important. Their stories can give a boost to other people,” Fischer said. “I am hoping, when people read it, it will give them something to look forward to. It will show them that sometimes when something seems insurmountable, it can be surmounted.”