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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Way back in the day, I'd left Seminary and my future, my marriage was over and we were fighting over who'd get stuck with the bill. I was living at home which was near Bataan Memorial Park. I took a little poodle, Mom's baby, named Mimi for a walk at the park. Across from the park I noticed a new book store had opened named Trespasser's William. I picked Mimi up and walked inside.
There was this nice lady who greeted me and we had a wonderful conversation about our favorite writers. She opened the store with children's books and used books. She asked me if I'd ever read anything by Harlan Ellison, and I recognized the name. I'd read a few of his short stories that I'd come across in science fiction anthologies: Repent Harlequin, Said the Tick Tock Man, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. One thing about Ellison is that you never forget his titles. She told me I had to read The Glass Teat, which is a series of articles about television in the 60's. So I bought it and I was hooked on Harlan from then on. In that summer of lonliness I'd go into her store where there'd be a few people just sitting around talking books. Eventually I found a job and got on with my life, but those times of discussion helped bring me back to the real world.
Reading Ellison's writings helped me recover from those dark days too in a strange way. There's a warning at the beginning of his book Deathbird Stories not to read it in one setting as the content is too distrubing. They are disturbing stories and very depressing and it may not sound right, but reading depressing stories lifted my depression. He put into words what I was feeling and I knew that I was not alone in my pain.
I traded in a number of used books for more of Ellison's until I'd exhausted her supply and I had to go down by the University for more. It was a moment in time where my interest in him and the publishing industry meshed. Most of his stories were being re-released in anthologies and out-of-print books were being republished. Over the years I've gobbled up just about every book of his that I've found.
Back in that day if a paperback book didn't sell the store would rip off the front cover, send it back to the publisher for a refund and throw the rest away. She gave me a box of books with the covers ripped off and in that box was almost a complete set of Robert E. Howard's Conan series. Those books kept me awake as a security guard on the graveyard shift.
I have many favorite authors: Isaac Asimov (my first love so to speak) Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, James A. Michener, Edgar Allen Poe, Barry Sadler, Mickey Spillaine M. M. Kaye, Bari Wood, Anne McCafrey, Colleen McCullogh, JRR Tolkein, CS Lewis...
Harlan Ellison is top of the list and I have Gwen to thank for introducing him to me.
After Grinnygranny and I were married and moved into an apartment far far away I didn't go back to the little store for some time.
Gwen shut down her used book section and focused on children's books. I went there and bought some books after Eddie was born. She'd started going into the elementary schools and putting on book fairs. Many teachers would take their classes to her store on field trips. It wasn't long until that little store across from the park wasn't big enough and she moved further up the street to a larger location. I don't know when she closed the store and moved away I was just disappointed when I drove by and found it gone.
Last night at the Writer's2Writers meeting Dave, who I'm taking over this writer's group from, gave me a newsletter from the children's writers group to read in way of some announcements. While reading the newsletter I came across one item letting everyone know that Gwen had passed away last November 21 in Colorado.
She will be sorely missed as she had a lasting impact on the children of this town and my life.


grandma1 said...

The closing and demise of all the little shops around the park. Just was the ending of the neighborhood as we knew it.

All the developers are promising this kind of neighborhood that they are building but it never comes out that way.

I still love the picture your Dad took of Eddie looking into the Hallmark Card shop.

I really appreciate the liberian that introduced me to Tony Hillerman.

P M Prescott said...

Mom, it was a real sad day when they tore down that little group of shops and built a wal-greens on that site. It ruined the whole area. I miss Russel's bakery, Gilbert's running shoes, the hallmark store and the place where you used to do pottery.