The village of West Salem, located in the middle of La Crosse County, has a population just under 5,000, but a local author knows the small community has something special, and he's sharing its history with the world.
Dubbed as “Mr. West Salem,” 78-year-old Errol Kindschy is not actually from West Salem. But he’s played a big role in the community for decades, as a teacher, a school board member, the president of the West Salem Historical Society and more.
"I mean, I love this town,” he said. “It's a part of my heart. My heart is in this town."
Kindschy could fill a book with memories, but as his mobility worsens, it's harder to leave the Historic Salem building, which is also an antique shop and used books store, as well as the place he calls home.
"Because of my feet, we can’t be open now,” he said. “We haven't been open for 17 months."
In some ways, his medical conditions slow him down.
"I can't drive. I’ve become a dependent person, which I don't like, but I have to do what I have to do,” Kindschy said. “I may lose my foot in the future, but hey, we're going to cross that bridge when we come to it."
He knows as well as anyone that life gives us many bridges to cross.
"I had a kitty-cat named Snuggles,” Kindschy said. “I had him for 18 years and almost two months, I just lost him."
But he's determined to keep filling the pages of his life with meaning.
"Thanks to the book, it's filling in for him. It’s giving me something else to think about,” he said.
Even though Kindschy can't venture out far, when writing about his community of West Salem, he has the world at his fingertips. He uses old newspapers to bring the history of West Salem to life.
"I found out there's no history written (about West Salem),” Kindschy said. "History should be fun! It isn't boring!"
He just published the first book in his series, "Taking Care of Business: The West Salem Way," has already written book two, and is now writing book three by hand.
"We're going to keep writing books, because it's so fun to get up in the morning and know that I’m making a contribution of some kind to the community, to the people of West Salem,” Kindschy said. “It makes me live. It gives me something to live with.”
As a man who has worn many hats for the community he loves so much, he has one piece of advice, no matter where you call home.
"Sit back, decide what you want to do then get involved,” Kindschy said. "That's the best thing you can do."
He’ll use the memories of West Salem's history to keep himself moving.
"You’ve got to look forward," he said. "You can’t look backward."
Kindschy taught in West Salem for more than thirty years, was on the school board for 12 years, helped start the Boys and Girls Club in West Salem and formed the West Salem Historical Society, which he's proud to report now has more than 2,000 members from 43 states and one foreign country.
Kindschy has a book signing Thursday evening from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at his home, the Historic Salem building.
The book can also be found at Le Coulee Cheese Castle and West Salem Health Mart.