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» Friday, December 19, 2008"I Could Walk It Blindfold"
[The original title for this post was "Sentimental Journey," but I thought A Christmas Carol more appropriate to the season. :-)]As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished...
Urgh. Last night was not conducive to sleeping. even with the fan on and a breeze coming from outside I was hot and sticky. It might explain my mood today, which has been seesawing between happy and depressed, sometimes at a speed which would cause whiplash.
My original plan for today was to bake wine biscuits, but damned if I was going to make the house any warmer. I had noted Wednesday when I took photos of the library tree that it was still looking rather thin at the right side, so I decided to drive into Buckhead to go to Richard's Variety Store. The last time they were there, they had had a Zorro figure, and the character of Zorro, although made very famous by Walt Disney's series, is originally from a book.
I chose to go the old route to work, via West Paces Ferry Road. Although the traffic was aggravatingly stop-and-go as it often was on the way to work, I miss going this way; no freeway at all and watching the seasons ripen and then pass on in this neighborhood of large lawns and multiple trees and hedges was always lovely. More "McMansions" are being erected; West Paces, which also is home to the governor's mansion, has always been a high-priced neighborhood, but it gets more pricey every year.
Buckhead as I knew it is pretty much gone: they razed all the bars on Peachtree Road and are now excavating for yet another high-rise apartment to join the others like mushrooms after damp days. The ugly yellow-tiled building I used to work in is now all glass and concrete, with a toney restaurant, the Capital Grille, at the top.
But on the way down to Richard's, I made a stop at the Buckhead Barnes & Noble and it was if the clock not only had stopped, but had rewound itself ten years. Not much about the place had changedthe graphic novels were in the place of the science fiction books, but the travel books and maps were still at the far window, next to the bargain shelves, the magazines were in the same place, as were the children's books, and the entire place was still overlaid by the heavenly scent of coffee. If I could have broken that wall as in Somewhere in Time, I could have almost walked out the door, gotten into my Neon and driven back to the battered little parking lot on Buckhead Avenue behind our building and parked under the shade of the tree in the middle of the restaurant patio next door.
From there I went to Richard's, in the same shopping center where the original Oxford Books was for so long. I remember those Saturday nights going to Oxford at eleven, or even midnight after the Phoenix Science Fiction Society meetings because we just weren't tired and Oxford was open until two! The space is now a lawyer's office.
But Richard's remains unchanged, even though the merchandise is of a new vintage. Anyone from fifty years ago could walk inheck, even Addie Mills would find it familiarand recognize the metal and wood shelves, the glass dividers, the checkerboard brown linoleum floor, and feel at home. The place has definite "Woolworth vibes," if you know what I mean.
Anyway, after searching, and searching, and almost giving up and searching once more, I found one Zorro left in a welter of other figures. Richard's has these bins in the back filled with plastic figures, people and animals, some from history, some from fantasy, some just wild animals: pirates, cowboys, Indians, fantasy figures, knights and dragons, zoo animals, wild animals. Along with Zorro, I got a Little Red Riding Hood figure, a Merlin the magician (for the Sword in the Stone), a wolf (Lobo from Wild Animals I Have Known), and a lioness (how I forgot Elsa from Born Free, I'll never know). I also found 3-way 30-70-100 Reveal bulbs for so much cheaper than Kroger that I bought five. [I no sooner had these in the closet than the three-way bulb in the living room floor lamp blew out completely. How do they know?]
Proving that I was now under the influence of Christmas spirit, I drove directly up Peachtree Road and past Lenox Mall and Phipps Plaza in the tangled welter of lunchtime traffic to get to Borders. Had a nice wander about the store, drooled over several history books, sampled some gingerbread/eggnog cake, and bought a gift before heading out to Peachtree Road again.
Since I was on this side of town anyway, I decided to stop at the used bookstore on Clairmont Road; went past the old site of Peachtree Garden Apartments and ascertained the site is now something called "Town Brookhaven," which appears to be two more high-rise apartment buildings with really ugly attached parking garages.
The bookstore seemed alive with cats today: a calico, a shorthaired black cat, and a longhaired black cat who reminded me of my best friend's cat "Zipper" back during our high school years. I had a great time surveying their collection of series' kids' books from the early part of the century. They have Ruth Fielding, Betty Gordon, Judy Bolton, the Dana Girls, and of course Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and even books for the younger set like Bunny Brown, the Five Little Blossoms, and of course the Bobbsey Twins.
Anyway, I just finished a fascinating folk-study book called Christmas in Pennsylvania, about the unique Christmas celebrations stemming from the heritage of the Pennsylvania Dutch. The book was originally written in the late 1950s and recently updated by Don Yoder, who includes some recommended Christmas books. Noted:
Which was why, when I finally strolled by the antique table where they had their Christmas books set out, I did a double take, because there on top was William Sansom's A Book of Christmasa nice oversized hardbound book with a not-too-tattered dustjacket for only $7.00 (and it was 15 percent off to boot).Of recent Christmas studies by British and American scholars, William Sansom's A Book of Christmas (1968) is a readable treatment of the English and American Christmas celebration, with some comparative data on continental European Christmas customs. The book is written in a pleasant essay style that is a pleasure to read, and the illustrations are in many cases new and rare indeed.
Alas, if only the time travel effect from Barnes & Noble was still in effect as I drove home: it would have been nice to be able to turn into the shopping center on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and find Kudzu [the remainder bookstore] or, even better, Woolworths, still there. What I wouldn't give for a Woolworths right now.