Today I had to drive for a morning meeting with a witness in Hutchins, south of Dallas. It is so wooded and beautiful down there, and I got to tour an interesting recycling operation. On my way back, I stopped off in Mesquite, which is the city east of Dallas in which I lived from 1985 through 1990. Mesquite has some 80,000 or so residents, but I chose to buy my first home there because it retained its small town feel. Today I headed over to Paperbacks Plus.
Every city of any size has a few "independent and seemingly run by 60s refugees" used bookstores. Paperbacks Plus is one of the finest such stores in the Dallas area. It has all the right ingredients--located in an old storefront, walls piled high with well organized books on every topic, vintage nature magazines and offbeat comics, and staff that is always unintrusive but friendly. What's more, I had a secret "ace in the hole" I was hoping would work to my benefit.
When we moved from Mesquite to Los Angeles in the early 1990s (i.e., we physically moved on a supposedly temporary basis in 1991, but we did not move our belonging until a year or two later), my wife took a large volume of my books to Paperbacks Plus for trade-in. We'll skip for a moment the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth that ensued when my Mark Van Doren signed first edition book of poems was sold off, because the full telling of that story would only reflect poorly on me. The net result was that we ended up living in Westchester, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, with a decent sized trade in credit at
a bookstore in Mesquite. We offered it to my friend G. who was living in our modest home temporarily, house-sitting as it were, but I don't think he used it.
I was curious whether a 9 year old book credit would still be recognized at the store. After I chose a mountain of books, though, I learned that our credit was still in place, firmly locked in their computer, and that I could apply it to half the purchase price of the books. Thus, using a little under 17 dollars cash and a portion of my "store credit", I got the following:
a. Edward Mattil, "Meaning in Crafts", a great book published in 1959 which teaches elementary school teachers how to do simple crafts with their kids, a nice hardcover.
b. Anthony Trollope's novels "The Duke's Children" and another paperback Trollope novel whose name escapes me and is not before me.
c. "Wily Violets and Underground Orchids--Revelations of a Botanist", a hardcover plant anecdotes story by Peter Bernhardt.
d. L.M. Pickett's chess monograph on the Moscow Variation of the Sicilian Defense (it was hard to pass by those Serbo-Croatian opening manuals, but I finally limited myself to Pickett). The Moscow is a good tame way for inassertive players like myself to avoid the Najdorf varation of the Sicilian.
e. A wonderful 1935 hardcover called "A Handbook of Fist Puppets" by Bessie A. Ficklen. Everything from making the puppets to putting on shows--it looks just lovely. I'll read it, note how to make the puppets and then ebay or nervousness exchange this one off.
f. A charming 1970 hardcover, "Things to Make with Paper", by Munson and Rosse. How to make everything from kites to paper planes to boats to dolls. The introduction says "It is my intention to make paper art seem easy". This speaks my language.
g. "Bromeliads--The Colorful House Plants", by
Jack Kramer, a nice hardcover with tons of appropriately colorful pix.
I am really happy with my finds, and have put Paperbacks Plus back on my "must visit soon" list.
Then, on my way home, I found the Tex Mex hole in the wall Martinez Family Restaurant has moved to nice new shopping center quarters, and I had a fine lunch of tamales and enchiladas and read about which paper crafts are best suited to older elementary school kids like myself. This has been a very nice Saturday, though it has involved a lot of work.