When I was a kid, maybe fourteen, I walked from my home to Maplewood, MO. It wasn’t far, just a couple of miles, but the walk was worth it.
Tucked away between the bar on the corner (that had the best Polish sausage with Miracle Whip sandwiches ever – of which I could do a blog just on them – maybe later), and the music store was a small book store.
It was indeed small but the shelves went from the floor to the ceiling, with every genre of hard cover or paperback book.
There were new books, traded books and books that looked as though Shakespeare or Poe may have browsed the pages.
At first, I went there to get comic books. They were, after all, only a dime. The little grey-haired lady kept a close watch on me. The thought of ever stealing a book never entered my mind. Those books were the way the lady had money to feed herself. I would pick the comic book I wanted, give her my dime, then leave the store.
In the coming months she grew to know me and her surveillance of me slowly disappeared as I graduated from Superman to Doc Savage.
Then, the Mike Hammer books were the ones I wanted to read.
The grey-haired lady, at first, would not sell them to me. She told me to wait a few years.
I really liked the lady so I said okay and settled on a Doc Savage I hadn’t read.
Winter came, and with working before and after school and going to school, the thoughts of going to a book store was furthest from my mind.
When the winter snows were over and school work dwindled down to a snail’s pace, I had a pocket full of money. The bookstore with all those treasures of written words, awaited me.
My arrival to a corner of the world I felt reserved for me, I found the store closed. Looking through the front window, where the new hard cover releases were displayed, I saw no books. My gaze was met by empty shelves.
I went next door to the bar and asked Gus the bartender, where the little lady that owned the next store moved.
He looked at me with kind eyes and said, “Heaven. She passed away a month ago.”
In the ensuing years, I found other places to buy my books. Places like Borders and Barnes & Noble were there.
Borders is now gone and is being followed by Barnes & Noble.
The feel of a book is slowly but surely being replaced by electronic media.
I hope the little grey-haired lady, whose name I never got to know, has a huge bookstore in Heaven, not having to worry about kids stealing comic books.
Copyright © 2013 Patrick Jones, All Rights Reserved