City Market book more than retracing Prinster family

Sent as BILL HAGGERTY MUG



Several years past when the recession walloped western Colorado, The Daily Sentinel, like a lot of other businesses, tightened its belt. One way a newspaper can cut expenses without cutting positions — always a last resort — is to reduce newsprint use.

So when I was managing editor, I eliminated this Sunday Books section.

The outcry was immediate. One caller in particular really let me have it. “A newspaper, more than anyone, should encourage reading!” she scolded.

This English major and career community newspaper journalist had no argument. The Sunday Books section soon was restored.

Now, with the economy rebounding and the newspaper growing, we’ll be shining even more light on all things reading- and writing-related in these pages.

It’s fitting that this column’s first book is a behind-the-scenes history of local business icon City Market — “The History of City Market: The Brothers Four and the Colorado Back Slope Empire.”

This is no arm’s length academic retelling; co-author Anthony Prinster is a former president of City Market and great-grandson of Austrian immigrant Joseph Prinster, whose four sons founded City Market in western Colorado in 1924.

Anthony “Tony” Prinster spent more than 10 years on the book, even tracing Joseph’s path back to South Tyrol.

Co-author Kate Ruland-Thorne is a Grand Junction writer who for 30 years has crafted narrative nonfiction for newspaper and magazine and is the author of seven regional history books.

In other words, “The History of City Market” is well-researched and well-written. It’s also honest, which can be difficult when you’re spilling the beans about the same people you’ll have to face across the Thanksgiving table — your family.

The book debuted at the Friday unveiling of the latest installation by the Legends Historic Sculpture Project. The four brothers who founded City Market — Paul, Frank Sr., Leo and Clarence — are depicted larger than life in bronze near the former City Market corporate headquarters, now home to Mesa County Central Services.

As I have for all the Legends sculptures, I wrote the verbiage for the Prinster plaque. Think there is pressure in getting things right on paper? Imagine enshrining every syllable in bronze. It’s nerve-racking — not only the permanence, but the brevity. It was a challenge to tell the 150-year history of a colorful family whose company became part of the largest grocery chain in the country ... in 300 words or fewer.

But I know something of the Prinster family history, having been hired by Tony back in 1999 to write a 14-part history of City Market for the business’ 75-year anniversary. I interviewed dozens of family members and employees from Rock Springs, Wyo., to Fruita.

That effort, however, only scratched the surface. In “The History of City Market,” you’ll find historic photos on nearly every page of family members, the grocery stores and valued employees. There is an extensive family tree and “Backstory Notes” that give additional insight about the players involved.

If the book were only a Prinster memoir, however, it would be best distributed solely to people with that surname in their parentage.

Instead, it is a book with universal themes of ambition, innovation and family, for better or for worse.

The fortunes of City Market stores rose and fell with the community’s, so this is our story, too. Between the first store’s hand-ground sausage using Old World recipes and a contentious family overthrow of power in the 1960s is Grand Junction history you have never heard anywhere before.

“The History of City Market,” published by The History Press, is 192 pages and retails for $19.99. It is available at Grand Valley Books, the Colorado Mesa University bookstore and at Grand Junction City Market stores.

Have news about local authors, bookstores, book clubs or writing groups? Email Laurena Mayne Davis at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Davis is the director of marketing and product development for The Daily Sentinel.


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