March 29, 2008
Blast from the past
Reading http://nyrb.typepad.com/classics/ and surprised to see a piece about the Paris bookstore Shakespeare & Company http://www.shakespeareco.org/ . I clicked on the links and there were the windows I remember looking out of with very sleepy eyes when I crashed on a sleeping bag on the floor in the late '70's, (my second week there, a bed upstairs emptied out so I got a mattress). The beds were placed here and there around the bookstore and if George liked you, he'd let you stay (you had to convince him you were a book lover). The perks were a free place to crash, an ever changing mix of people passing through (each with an interesting story to tell) and any books you wanted to read. You also had to help out a little bit in the shop which I enjoyed. He came off as gruff but was actually quite kind, and he put up with all of us starry-eyed travelers passing through - I think he enjoyed our vagabond dreams as much as we did. I remember being so pleased when he gave me a rare compliment for dealing with a difficult customer in a polite but firm way with my high school french. The kind of experience you look back on and think, hey, I did do some pretty cool stuff back in the day.