I have been many things, but my favorite me was Me-The-Bookseller. For a time, I ran an out-of-print book search service for university libraries, and when librarians’ lists arrived I would check my personal stash for potential sales, and then scurry to The Strand in New York City. What a wonderful excuse to buy more books! I painfully executed hundreds of deep knee bends to ferret out treasures from those miles of bottom shelves. I staggered home through the city streets toting literally tons of purchases. I suffered from an alarming degree of sports-type injuries. (Doctor: “Ms Buck, do you play tackle football? Jump hurdles? Lift weights?” Me: “Nope. I do books. Just books.” Doctor: “You have biblio-citis. Incurable.”)
The countless red and white plasticine shopping bags from The Strand became a vital part of my life as well. For years those bags were used, and re-used, and re-reused. I moved from my seventh-floor walkup in the Village to a second-floor walkup in El Barrio via subway, lugging those Strand shopping bags. They journeyed to the Yucatan in my van, thence back to Manhattan, and from there finally to Maine. Regrettably, although the sturdy plastic may never disintegrate in a landfill, over the decades the handles have separated, the sides have split, until at this very moment, there is one sole survivor, stuffed with mass-market paperbacks, resting in my attic.
The Strand has grown more civilized and chic since I left, I am told. More user friendly. Improved bathroom facilities. I know they still have miles of books. There is a website. And cloth shopping bags. My own thousands of books have mated and multiplied, but I miss my old plasticine shopping bags. And my knees, of course.
Causes Mara Buck Supports
Kennebec Valley Humane Society, Amnesty International