Monday, July 30, 2012

My First Bookstore

My first bookstore was “The Frigate” (There is no frigate like a book…” It was housed in a Colonial building at the end of our street. It had a bright red door and the sign that hung outside bore a picture of a sailing ship and the lettering was very ornate and old-fashioned.

The door was open from nine to five on weekdays and ten to six on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays. The proprietor’s name was Polly.

When we first moved to this neighborhood I was too young to cross the big street alone. It was a major thoroughfare with trolleys and trucks. I would have to wait for my mother to take me. But on my tenth birthday, she decided I was old enough to go by myself. Clutching my hard-saved allowance and birthday money in my hand, ($2) I set off.

Since I arrived on the dot of nine, there was no one else in the store. Just me. It was as quiet as the library except for the soft tap tapping of a typewriter in a back room. I hesitated for a minute, then took the plunge and began browsing among the shelves, inhaling the heady aroma of new paper and fresh ink, the smell of newly printed books. I don’t know how long I prowled there, but after awhile the little bell over the door rang and another customer came in. At this point, Polly emerged from the backroom, and seeing me first, said, “Can I help you?”

“No,” was my resolute response. I didn’t want any help. This book was to be my choice and mine alone.

She smiled and moved on to the other customer. A tall woman who looked like a schoolteacher, she gave me a disapproving glance, probably wondering why such a young person was in a bookshop alone. I clutched my money tighter and continued to study the brightly colored spines of the books.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember what book I finally picked, but knowing my taste at that time, it was probably the latest Nancy Drew mystery.

Robin Hathaway

1 comment:

  1. What a charming post. I love the image of the little girl in a bookstore, making her big decision.