this makes me sad
I was greeted with a shock when I ventured into the little town near our Ozark cabin last weekend. Part of me wishes I hadn’t gone into town, but I know I would have learned the sad news eventually.
The town had a used bookstore that had been there for as long as I had been venturing down to my bit of woods. I prowled its shelves for Iris Murdoch novels to add to my collection and whatever else I could find that I didn’t realize I needed. I knew the owner was not well, and I was not too surprised when he decided to close up shop last summer. I don’t know what’s become of him, if he’s still in the town or even still alive. When I would go to the little town, I always drove past the bookstore even though I knew it would be closed. I could still see the shelves full of books in the windows, and I wondered if someone might try to reopen the store or at least try to liquidate the inventory.
But that was not to be. Sometime since our last visit, the bookstore — and two 19th Century shops beside it — burned to the ground.
That pile of bricks and charred timbers and the white things that were once books is all that is left of the store. I took that shot from where the other two stores stood. They were vacant at the time, but it’s a shame that they were lost too. It looks as though all of the debris from the three lost buildings was shoveled into this place. There was a basement under the store, so that pile is deeper than it looks.
Something in me loves used bookstores. The musty smell. The creaky, spongy floor boards. The dust and the spiderwebs. The chatty shop keeper. The crazy books you’d never see anywhere else. And occasionally, the treasure you’ve been seeking for years. But this one is gone. In the back of my mind I think I knew that this was the likely end of the store. Who would want the inventory? Who would even want to haul the inventory to the dump? No one was clamoring for the space — there are plenty of vacant storefronts in the little town. It wasn’t even on the square but on a side road, much like the little town wasn’t on the highway but out of the way and inconvenient. So the thousands and thousands of books sat there, waiting for the flame that would be their end.
It makes me sad.