By Mark David Blum, Esq.
A dear friend and law school classmate of mine, Thomas Mafrici, Esq. has penned a book scheduled soon for release titled ‘Images of America: Cicero’. Being among the lucky few to get an advance copy of the book, I can bring you this review before it hits the store shelves.
Tom has been an attorney as long as have I but what sets him apart is that in 2003, he became the Town Historian for the Town of Cicero. His law offices and home are remodeled historic buildings in Cicero. As Town Historian, Tom has taken it upon himself to gather together a collection of rare and never before seen historic photographs that go back to the Town’s original founding at the crossroads of upstate New York. The book comes with a collection of postcards with some of the more prized photographs on them.
Spanning the history of Cicero since its beginnings as the home to the Iroquois and Owasco Indian tribes, the book is a collection of the icons and landmarks that grew with the Town from a small agrarian community into the sprawling Syracuse suburb that it is today.
Written and collected by Tom and his wife Elizabeth August the book features never before seen photographs that come from private and public collections. The collection travels through the time when Cicero’s community was at the Four Corners of Upstate New York, through the stage coach runs, and the development of commerce throughout the region. Included in the collection is a portrayal of the rise and fall of the Cicero Stage Coach along with the development of the nation’s first plank road and beginnings of the automobile age.
‘Cicero’ contains nearly every significant historic photograph of the Town collected by Mafrici, his wife, and the Town’s former historian Lona Flynn. Most of the buildings shown inside the book no longer exist or have been substantially altered. The book itself may be the only glimpse of historic Cicero that anybody will ever have. The world has changed significantly over the past century and a half but Mafrici and August have brought old Cicero back to life in this marvelous collection.
Mafrici’s interest in Cicero’s history goes back to 1999 when he bought the Loomis home; one of the last surviving structures of old Cicero and was once owned by one of the town’s founding families. Together, Tom and his wife restored the home and made it their own. In that same year, the restored house was featured in HGTV’s ‘If Walls Could Talk’.
Scheduled for release on April 27, 2009, the 127 page paperback is a worthy buy. Published by Arcadia Publishing renowned for releasing more than 3,000 titles depicting regional and local histories, the book is jam packed with page after page of rare and previously unseen photographs. Covering every subject from community life to public service to religious life, the book offers a rare glimpse into the past and the roots from which our current community springs. It is not to be missed.
In celebration of the book’s release, Mafrici will be available for book signings and interviews on April 30, 2009 at Frank’s Plank Road Café, on May 2, 2009 at the Historic Cicero Union School Building (now Mafrici’s Law Office), and on June 13, 2009 at the Cicero Community Festival.
Kudos go out to Tom and his wife. They have achieved a monumental success in bringing into the 21st century the lives and lifestyles of the 19th century. If you have a chance, pick up a copy of the book and enjoy the trip into our history. It will be an incredible voyage.