My Hometown Bookstore

When I was nine, if I didn’t have after-school ballet or a play date (though that is not what we called them in those days), I went to the Book Shelf on my way home. Miss Dorothea and Miss Susan Keeney treated me like a real customer, genuinely glad to have me stop in.

Located on a leafy court out of the way of common commerce, the Book Shelf had been a refuge for me ever since Granny asked me to stop in on my way home and pick up a book she’d ordered. I didn’t really want to leave. Walking up and down the dim, darkish, skinny aisles eyeing the shiny spines of all those books, the new ink smell hovering, the wooden floor creaking, I matured. A home-made cookie materialized often, with a pretty little napkin to catch the crumbs not scarfed up by Charlotte, the attentive dachshund.

The proprietors were prepared for me, no matter when I came.  

Better w/ books & blackie
Blackie and me at home

“I was just saying to Miss Dorothea this morning that this new book that had come in would be perfect for Donnan and here you are! You must have read our minds,” Miss Virginia said one day in her soprano voice.

As she spoke, she bustled from behind the desk they shared, turned left past the grown-up section and ended up in the very, very back where books for children rested on their sides. Not like the library. Now that I think of it, I never found a book by myself there. Help was always on the way.

The business model at the Book Shelf was to know what your customer liked, or should like. Dorothea and Virginia were popular for their dictums. I soon discovered it wasn’t polite to wince if handed a book by either one of them; they clearly knew better than I what I should be reading. This is what they had in common with my Granny, who seemed to have a checklist in her mind of what you should read when you reached a certain age. For instance, I was not permitted to read Jane Eyre until I was thirteen.

When I complained, Granny would only say it was, “For obvious reasons, dearie. But you don’t need to know them just now.”

But Granny always said, “Yes, of course,” when one of the sisters called for permission to charge the book ‘I’d found.’”

Our goal with the Book Tour is to visit as many Book Shelves as we can find. While I know Miss Dorothea and Miss Virginia are long gone in Wayne, Pennsylvania, I hope we’ll be able to find their modern-day contemporaries everywhere from Missoula to Meadville to Memphis. We’re counting on all of you to reach out to your local version of the Book Shelf to tell them about Scone by Scone…Tales of an Innkeeper’s Life.

Bloomsbury Bookstore in Ashland Oregon

My Hometown Bookstore

My Hometown Bookstore