jlsathre

jlsathre
Location
Illinois,
Birthday
July 30
Bio
I'm a lawyer in my past life, who got the kids through college and decided to try something different and a little more fun. A used book store sounded like a good idea, so that's where I am for now. I just hadn't counted on a recession or E-readers and am a little afraid there's going to be a third act. In the meantime, I have plenty to read and a little time to write. Not a bad way to spend a day.

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Salon.com
Editor’s Pick
APRIL 9, 2012 12:48PM

Two Little Girls In a Bookstore

Rate: 36 Flag

I have regulars who come into the bookstore. Several are voracious readers, and come in nearly every week to buy multiple books. Others surprise me by showing up with notebooks and detailed lists of specific books, both read and unread that they're looking for, and leave only with books from the lists. Some are mainly browsers who come in at no particular interval and often leave with nothing but sometimes with mismatched books of unrelated genres.  

And two come in almost every single day and never buy a thing. They're  little girls, ages 9 and 11 now, who live in a small apartment near the store. The apartment has no yard, and there's not much of interest close by that they can get to without crossing busy streets, which they're not allowed to do.  So they ride their bikes the 70 yards or so to the bookstore nearly every day after school.  

I've never met the parents, but know that they often work during the day.  The mother at McDonalds.  The step-dad at different places doing construction. The girls have keys that they keep in little purses, or backpacks, or pockets. When the chains on their bikes fall off, they bring them to me to fix.  On Saturdays, when the parents are home, the girls run over to tell me before going to a playground or McDonalds, or to the library, which they know I like to hear.

We've developed a few rules.  One piece of Dubble Bubble per girl per day, regardless of how many times they come in. The same rule applies to the pink bucket of free kids' books that's kept inside. And to the bookmarks that they're collecting. 

Sometimes they grab a piece of gum and run right back outside after saying thank you (another rule), and sometimes they try to come in very quietly and hide from me.  We made a rule about that too since I feared locking them in some night.

But usually we just chat. The youngest asks me to her school functions and tells me family secrets. "Don't tell Daphne I told you this," she'll start. I know they lost a baby brother several years ago, that they have step-siblings, and that their dad lives in Chicago with a woman he's not married to.

The oldest is starting to fill out and is beginning to show some interest in boys.  It seems too soon, and I find myself throwing better books in the kids' free box hoping she'll turn her interest towards books.

They're moving on May 1st. "To a house," the littlest one tells me, with only two bedrooms, but also a basement that the oldest wants to make into a bedroom so they can each have their own rooms. Their mom is expecting another little girl in July, so I'm not sure how long they'll each have their own room even if the basement works out.

But I'm hoping it works for at least a little while.  I also hope that they have a yard.  And that they take with them a memory of a few rooms filled with books that was a nice place to spend some time.  

 

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I'm fairly certain you must be one of the best bookstore owners...ever! Putting those books in the free bucket, trying to hook her without shoving it down her throat, which of course would never ever work. That one piece of bubble gum, showing an interest in them, being sincere and simply caring. Beautiful. :'-)
I used to spend all of my time browsing bookstores and the library when I was a girl that age. I had a heart problem and could not play, books became my playmates and best friends. I would have loved to have found a bookstore owner like you.
rated with love
I wish I lived near you. Would enjoy reading to children. My mother used to take me to a children's library every week for story time. You are the Book Seller Supreme! The Pink Bucket....good title for a short story. Hope the little girls are moving close by.
It is kind and commendable of you to provide some guidance, fun and education to these kids. Where would be the world be without people like you to look after these kids who don't have enough?
These two little girls will remember you all their lives ... and not only when they read. How lucky they to have found you. How lucky you that they have fallen in love with you. Can't help but think of their tomorrows and hope this knowing will always keep them warm. Somehow ... I believe it will.
You are so cool. I have never heard of any bookstore putting out free children's books. Those little girls have wiggled their ways into your vast heart. I'll bet you find yourself missing them and wondering if they are okay. And I promise they will never forget you.

Lezlie
Pensive--Thank you, but it's more about two sweet little girls.
Romantic--I'm glad you found the books. They seem to have served you well.
Ande--I bet there are libraries and bookstores nearby that would love for you to do some reading.
Mary--Thanks, but it's no sort of sacrifice. I have lots of idle time and they're fun.
anna--How lucky I've been-- I'm taking something away. I hope they do too.
Lezlie--I'll definitely miss them.
You are a profoundly good person... period.
I have a feeling these girls will never forget you!
Your book shop sounds like a neat place to hang out. Any beer in the fridge? R
I'd love to spend days in the shop. r.
jmac--I don't know about that, but I have gotten good at fixing bike chains.
Alysa--I hope they remember a little.
Gerald--Sorry, no beer--I have enough trouble keeping the kids away from the adult books.
Jonathan--You're welcome any time.
You have probably given them a huge gift that you can't fully realize.
Sounds like you are creating a bubble of happiness in your community. What a wonderful gift.
You've planted some potent seeds, JL. Chances are they'll feel good about bookstores and books the rest of their lives.
If I lived within walking distance of your bookstore, I would have come every day too. You would have loved me. I was a reader and thought bookstores were tons better than Disney Land. Congrats on the EP! Well Deserved.
Bernadine--With my kids grown, it feels like a gift to me.
Deborah--Or my bubble-- it's not a bad way to spend a day.
Chicken Maaan-- That's a nice thought. I hope so.
Christine. Thank you. I would have loved you, because right now I think the free gum's the draw. I just hope that the books leave the lasting impression.
Such a nice story. I hope they're able to keep in touch with you. You've probably made more of an impact on their lives than you realize. With both parents working in most families these days, it's reassuring and comforting to know there are still people like you out there.
I have ALWAYS found book stores, libraries, and bookmobiles to be homes away from home. I even worked in a bookstore once...but I spent more than I made. Bookstores, especially, are essential to a community--as your story reveals.
I enjoyed reading this so much!
Brianna--I'm pretty sure I'll see them again. I hope so.
beauty--I agree. Library's still seem pretty secure, but I'm a little worried about bookmobiles and bookstores.
Lunchlady--Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Something really magical about this. Helping kids to learn to love reading, in any way, is as cool as it gets. I toast you with a piece of Dubble Bubble.
What a wonderful story. You are touching young lives when it matters most. What a gift!
fernsy--The magic draw of Dubble Bubble.
asia--I'm lucky to be there.
I guess my idea of paradise would be a bookstore, a bakery, and a coffee shop, all on the same side of the street. Oh and a candy store.
You've been adopted. They will never forget you.

Good call on the "better" books for the older sister.
What a wonderful, charming story. I'm sure the bookstore will play a huge role in those girls' memories for the rest of their lives. A particular corner drug store still has a similarly large place in my mind. You have a real community establishment.
DB--That sounds like a great block. Unfortunately, I'm in a little strip with no treats.
V--The question is probably who adopted who.
Manhattan--I had a drug store like that growing up too--with a soda fountain, comics, 45 records, and lots of kids milling around.
What a haven you've created in your store and I bet it will translate to those (and many other) children finding the same refuge in the books they've found there. R
What a haven you've created in your store and I bet it will translate to those (and many other) children finding the same refuge in the books they've found there. R
That's great! I hope they take full advantage of their school library too, especially if they aren't close enough to a city library to go. And I wish you great success with your book store!
Aaaah, boy. Or is it buoy? I always want to call you Jill. Up the hill, the way you live, love, laugh, and langour. You have described a facet of a Me that came up the same. The resounding thing to me, here, is Safety. That these lovely girls do obey not crossing the traffic that is evidently nearby. Inner-city, same. You are the welder, the dry cleaner, the bodega. Knowledge. Another Mother, as I call it. To mine, 50's to 60's, it was neon in small storefront windows that had been built out from homes, to "the Big sidewalk." To them? -- It is the Bookstore.

Wonderful romp, much to think on, beacon. R, girly.
Tenderfoot--It's my own little haven.
Rebecca--School libraries and classrooms both. I get a lot of teachers stocking up their classroom libraries--usually out of their own pocket.
Songbird--It sounds like you have good memories. I hope my two little girls do too.
So many good lessons in this post, for kids and grown-ups alike! Thanks a million!
there's some people that you only met briefly
that you won't ever forget,
as a kiddo. From now to May 1 i would
throw damn fine books in there.

Get a kid addicted to books is the plan.
Maybe two kids. What are their interests? Find out...

These opportunities to....not "teach", but be a wise safe haven,....the "wise old woman" in Jungian archetypal terms....dont come along often.
Jennifer--Thanks for reading and commenting.
James--I just threw a few more in.
I love your bookstore and the open arms that greet these two girls. They will most certainly remember you and the safe haven you offered during their childhood. R
Oh, I hope that they will live near a bookstore, owned by a kind, intelligent woman who will watch over them and encourage their dreams. Sadly, how many of those kinds of bookstore owners are out there? Near houses? I wish they weren't moving.
What a great heart you have. Kind of brought to mind the movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (can't remember the name.) Meg was a beloved bookstore owner. Magic usually can't happen in big box stores. Maybe you should try adding to your bookstore. Perhaps a tea room, or coffee shop. Could increase revenue. Good luck
How lovely! You're doing more than managing a bookstore--you're dispensing hope along with those books.
Rita--I do hope they remember.
Bellwether--I have a feeling I may be sending them books and gum.
Sign--A tea room or coffee shop would be great, but I have no room and no budget. Gum's about as good as I can do.
cancerdancer--Well....there's also me hoping for more paying customers.
lovely story. lovely.
Thank you, tai. They're lovely little girls.
How great that you're there for them.
I loved this piece! I'll be they always remember your kindness.
I love bookstores! I'm one of the ones that walk out with 2 books of different genres. I agree with Pensive completely! You must be one of the best bookstore owners ever and I know those 2 little girls will never forget you and will miss being able to visit you.
I love "... their dad lives in Chicago with a woman he's not married to."
You have such a great eye for character ~ I know these busy, delightful kids, & I love the caring watchfulness of the one who owns the bookshop. This reads a treat, jls, thankyou.
The world needs people like you . :)
nerd--Pretty good for me too--days can get long even with a lot of good books to read.
reinvented--Thank you. I'll remember them.
Painting--I love bookstores too. It makes the job easy.
Kim--Thank you. Two Dubble Bubbles for you.
Sweetfeet--Thank you, but it's really the kids.
Oh, they'll remember those rooms. And you. Thank you for this post, and for being a friend to them. R.
They'll always have that memory of your store and your kindness, and the love of books there...thanks so much for sharing this, jlsathre.
Like in the movie,"You've Got Mail," I'm sure you are the perfect "Story Lady," and they will miss you terribly./r
jlsathre,

As somebody who spent a good deal of his childhood in libraries and bookstores (teenage did all the damage), I can tell you're exactly the kind of bookstore owner I'd have a massive crush on!
A testament to the power of books and love...we all just need a little recognition, at whatever age.
Aw, this little tale gave me goosebumps. What a lovely place your bookstore must be to them, where they can take a respite from their already-too-heavy world! This is the start of a novel out of one of the three of you, for sure...
What Jeff Mayersohn seems to grasp so well is that retail bookstores, like any business, can survive only by continuing to provide able and desirable customer service. His creative efforts should be applauded and, with luck, his ideas will spread. But frankly, I think it will take truly earnest book-sellers like Jeff to invest the time and money it will take to make the local-bookstore concept survive and grow. Yes, there is hope; I remain optimistic. Looking for cheapest auto insurance in Florida?

Love it! I've seen this happen so much - too much. Nothing like getting the book in your hand then instead of weeks later +shipping...do the math it's going to be the same price.
I've never met the parents, but know that they often work during the day. The mother at McDonalds. The step-dad at different places doing construction. The girls have keys that they keep in little purses, or backpacks, or pockets. When the chains on their bikes fall off, they bring them to me to fix. On Saturdays, when the parents are home, the girls run over to tell me before going to a playground or McDonalds, or to the library, which they know I like to hear.Arab

We've developed a few rules. One piece of Dubble Bubble per girl per day, regardless of how many times they come in. The same rule applies to the pink bucket of free kids' books that's kept inside. And to the bookmarks that they're collecting.