Friday, March 2, 2012

A Visit to Atlanta Vintage Books

I was let out of our own bookstore for a short trip to Atlanta to check out Emory College. The young' un has been dreaming of an education at this fine academic institution, despite my entreaties that it is way too far away, out of our budget, too much of a change from our hobbity rural life, etc. She insists that this is her dream college, so off we went for a four-day trip to investigate.

After a three-flight extravaganza that began at 3 am, followed by a white-knuckle rental car drive up I-85 during rush hour, in which I was consistently in the wrong lane, we flopped at our hotel for a quick break. The plan was to freshen up, drive over to Emory to scope out how to get to our scheduled tour the next morning, shop quickly at a used bookstore and then seek out some delicious Southern barbeque.

I had thought that Emory was located in a northern suburb of Atlanta, but it's really part of the urban area, replete with lots of traffic congestion, so our introduction to Emory was not as auspicious as it could have been. We sat in a big traffic jam past the Center for Disease Control and Emory Hospital and saw people walk, push strollers, and limp past with three-pronged canes overtaking us in our rental car. We finally inched past our intended target, the Admissions Building, and then headed out of the gridlock up Clairmont Avenue to catch the last half-hour at Atlanta Vintage Books.

What a treat!  We pulled up to the curb and saw a young man feeding and petting a covey of long-haired cats on the sidewalk. He welcomed us and when I told him we were looking forward to meeting one of our bookstore colleagues, whisked us into the shop and introduced us to more cats and Bob Roarty and Jan Bolgla, the husband and wife owners.

Jan was busy on the phone with customers during our visit, but Bob was so kind and generous with his time, leading us both through the labyrinth of wonderful book rooms, each more interesting than the next. I love that different subjects get their own rooms and we had a grand time talking shop, examining some of the gems in his rare books section (a signed Finnegan's Wake! a signed Gone with the Wind! Tasha Tudors in jackets!). Every once in a while, his delightfully exuberant employee Mallory would whoop or snort from her corner cubby to punctuate our discussion, and that made me laugh every time.

I wish I had more time to browse, but with hungry teen in tow and mindful of the 7 pm closing time (which we exceeded by far) my perusal was limited to the American history section. I am always looking to replenish our colonial history and Revolutionary War shelves, as well as our upstate New York history selections, so I did leave with an armload of books that filled up my airline suitcase to its 50 lb. limit.

Bob probably would have kept the lights on all night for us, so generous was he with his time and kindness, but after providing us with a short linguistics lesson to help us in our travels ("all y'all" is the plural of "y'all", "the great Unpleasantness" refers the Civil War) and some detailed instructions to get us to Fat Matt's Rib Shack for dinner, we reluctantly left. Bob also practically adopted my daughter into the family should she end up at Emory, so I am very grateful to everyone at Atlanta Vintage Books. Talk about the fabled Southern hospitality!

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