Gary Kimball memoir encourages readers to ‘Look Beyond the Sleeping Dogs’
Family recruited a team to fullfill author’s wishes
The spirits of the past awaken in a new memoir, “Look Beyond the Sleeping Dogs: Portraits of a Vibrant Community in Park City’s ‘Ghost Town’ Era,” by Gary Kimball.
The book, which was published a few weeks ago by Tramway Press in Park City, looks at Park City through the eyes of a child, said Kimball’s son, James Kimball.
“I heard a lot of these stories growing up,” James said. “The stories in this book are about my dad, his brothers, and the class of 1955 characters.”
Gary Kimball, who passed away in 2018, was not only one of Park City’s historians, but a member of Park City’s founding families, said David Hampshire, who edited the book and penned its foreword.
“[He was] a descendant of the family that once operated the Kimball stagecoach and, later, Kimball’s Garage, in the brick building that now houses retail stores on the northeast corner of Park and Heber Avenues,” he wrote.
The new book also doesn’t focus on the Park City mining millionaires — Thomas Kearns, David Keith and John Judge, according to Hampshire.
“[Gary] wanted to celebrate his friends and neighbors, people who were trying to eke out a living in an era when the mines were closing down and many folks were leaving town, sometimes taking their houses with them,” he said.
The book, whose cover was painted by Harley Campos, also features photos provided by the Kimball Family, various collections at the Park City Museum and illustrations by award-winning painter and illustrator Don Weller, James said.
Publishing the book, which is available at the Park City Museum, the Summit County Historical Museum and Dolly’s Bookstore, was a labor of love for James, his sister Janice, their uncle and Gary’s brother Paul, and their cousin Sarah Peters.
“My father had been trying to finish the book, because he knew he had a limited time to do so,” James said. “But he wasn’t able to. So, right before he died, my family told him that we would work to complete it. And luckily, we had a plan set in place.”
That plan included Hampshire, author and publisher Katie Mullaly of Surrogate Press, and Dalton Gackle, the Park City Museum’s research, digital services and social media coordinator.
“We had it set up that David would help with the text, research and concepts that needed to be finished,” James said. “While David edited, Dalton dug up and provided photos. And Katie did the layout. They also did so much stuff in regards to the historical perspectives of Utah, particularly Park City, in this book.”
The help was priceless, especially in the aftermath of Gary’s death.
“I was in the grieving process for quite a while,” James said. “I would read some of the stories, hear his voice and get tripped up. So, it took me a while to get to the point where I could look at the stories from a different, a more clear, perspective than from a father-and-son relationship.”
When Gary died, he only had a little more than half of the parts fully finished, James said.
“David went through and edited, and we saw it was a little light on text,” he said.
That’s when Hampshire came up with the idea of including vignettes of Gary’s 2006 book, “Of Moths and Miners,” which is currently out of print.
Many of the “Of Moths and Miners” stories were previously published in the Lodestar magazine, which is now Park City Magazine, according to Hampshire, who was its editor in 1986.
Those stories are “about times in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, a period in Park City’s history that would best be described at its lower ebb,” Gary wrote in the original preface for “Of Moths and Miners.”
“When David came up with the idea of pairing the new stories with ‘Of Moths and Miners,’ I was skeptical at first,” James said. “But I now think the perspectives work, because the first part of ‘Look Beyond the Sleeping Dogs’ sets up a background for the new stories from my father’s childhood era.”
The book went to print in late May, and James said it means so much to see the finished project.
“My sister and I didn’t know if it would ever get completed, or at least do my father justice,” he said. “This all fell into my lap, and I wanted to honor my father’s last wishes. There is a lot of history attached, and I think it’s good for people to learn more about it if they want to.”
To celebrate the book’s publication, Dolly’s Bookstore will host an event at 5 p.m. on Sept. 16, and James is working to launch a Tramway Press website, tramwaypress.com.
“It has been an honor to help contribute to my father and the Kimball family legacy as well as documenting historical Park City,” James said. “I feel fortunate to learn about old Park City through my dad’s narrative.”
Park City Institute’s 2023-24 Main Stage season includes Grammy winners, historians, dance and a puppy show.
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