Saturday, August 15, 2009


Livia and I drove down to Brownwood today for my Uncle Sidney's 90th birthday party. It was really good to see him and visit with some other relatives we don't see that often. During World War II, Sidney was a medic in Burma, and I always enjoyed listening to his stories about those days, although I imagine it wasn't nearly as enjoyable living through them.

I like Brownwood, and I like the drive down there. There's usually not much traffic and the countryside is pretty. I spent a lot of time in that area as a kid because we had a ton of relatives there. I probably drove Livia a little crazy by constantly telling her where things used to be, like in Stephenville where I pointed to a strip mall and said, "There used to be a little used bookstore there, but I only went to it once." Then it was, "There used to be a drugstore there where I bought an Ellery Queen paperback and a Thomas B. Dewey paperback and a Walt Slade novel." We stopped at the Hastings in Brownwood, and I said, "This used to be a grocery store, and when it was, the paperback rack was right over there, and I remember buying Louis L'Amour's FLINT here, and some Donald E. Westlake book that I can't remember the title of, but I can see the cover in my head . . ." And I didn't even tell her about the time I sat in the car outside a nursing home in Brownwood and read Edward S. Aarons' ASSIGNMENT - SCHOOL FOR SPIES. She probably thinks I'm a little nuts, and I'm sure some of you do, too, but I'll bet some of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Yeah, it was a good trip . . . the real one, and the one into the past inside my head.


Randy Johnson said...

Oh yes, I too remember when and where I picked up favorite titles. While my family likes reading, some think I'm a bit-obsessive about it.

beb said...

My dad's only a couple years younger than your uncle, served in Iran, but he never talked about his service until the last few years. Curious how some people talk about the war and other people don't. Even though he didn't talk about the war even summer he's drive to Ohio where his best friend from the war farmed. Dad farmed, too, so he dropped down to help bring in the hay.

Though I live in Detroit I was born in Indiana. Going home is always disorientating because things have built up so much since I left.

I don't, however remember where I bought every great I've read.

Fred Blosser said...

James, what's the cover of the Westlake book?

James Reasoner said...


I did some looking around on the Internet and figured out that the Westlake book was THE SPY IN THE OINTMENT. I'm going to add that cover to the post, along with the cover for ASSIGNMENT - SCHOOL FOR SPIES. I couldn't find a scan on-line of the cover of that particular edition of L'Amour's FLINT. Fine books, all three of them.

Bill Crider said...

Did you ever visit the Cherokee Trading Post in Brownwood? One of the great depositories of used books in the area.

James Reasoner said...


I believe you took me to the Cherokee Trading Post one time when I was visiting. Was it a shed-like building in some guy's back yard? I remember buying some Edge books and some Perry Rhodans there.

Richard Prosch said...

Yup, I remember where and when...the drug stores, bookshops -- naturally, some are more vivid because of circumstances; I bought Avengers #186 from a vending machine in Canada in 1979.

Especially poignant are the memories of comics or paperbacks my parents or grandparents bought for me.

RJR said...

I revisit bookstores in my mind all the time, especially from Brooklyn and Manhattan. I used to take the train into the City a couple of times a month and just walk from bookstore to bookstore. I'd start on 12th Street at The Strand and end up on 57th Street at Colisium Books.
Also, as a kid my family traveled a lot by car, and when I would see a bookstore and yell "stop!" my father would.
One day Stevie Wonder was playing on the radio--"My Cherie Amour." I saw a small drug store and through the window I saw an old rotating book rack. I yelled "stop" went in, and bought the paperback of ACT OF FEAR by Michael Collins--new! Later, I became friends with Dennis Lynds--the real name behind Collins. He passed several years ago, but whenever I hear "My Cherie Amout" I think of my friend.