The door is a weathered dark oak, with a worn cardboard open sign, dangling in the glass. My right hand grasps the well worn brass doorknob, I turn it slightly to the right and the door swings gently inward with the light tinkling of a bell. As I walk though the entrance, I am greeted with the pungent aroma of fir, the pitches long since dried. The planks of the floor of the entrance way are hollowed out from the years of foot traffic. Stepping further into the building, the floorboards yield a wonderful creak with every step that I take.
The ceilings are high and bare, revealing the beams that hold the building together. Solid, strong rough hewn beams, as dark as the wood of the door, tied together with massive black iron bolts. A few fans whisper silently from the beams. Paned windows, up near the roof, line the length of the building. Sunlight is streaming through some of them, not quite making it to floor level.
Columns of wooden cases stuffed with books, not an empty space to be seen, everywhere I look a book, a stand or a bookcase. Nostalgia floods in on me, memories transport me to my grandparent’s attic. I know this smell that is the trigger for me. That wonderful rich smell of years of experiences, trapped now in the scent of the wood.
The essence of the big little books, treasures from the forties, yellowed with age, fragile. Years gone by, my father’s childhood fantasies, hopes and dreams. Buck Rogers and the Moons of Saturn, the Phantom and the Sign of the Skull, the Lone Ranger and the Silver Bullets. I still have my fathers Captain Marvel membership card, back when he signed his name Jackie.
I wander over to the section of antiquarian children’s books. A familiar red binding catches my eye, the Scarecrow of Oz. Again I reach back into the past, my fathers deep rich voice reading to my brother and me about the Ork, a strange birdlike creature from the genius of L. Frank Baum, complaining that the candle bit him. The magic of books, igniting a child’s newly discovered imagination on fire.
For this, I love this particular bookstore, and its mystical ambience, allowing me an entrance to a portal within my mind. A secret place I don’t visit often enough. Only by the stirrings of memories, through the aroma’s of a time long since past.