When my grandfather was in his early twenties, and frequenting the Village (Greenwich Village), he found some wonderful bookstores (they tended to carry both new and used books then). This was in the early 1920’s. He also found some excellent bookstores in Harlem, which he liked a lot.
When he became Night Managing Editor of the Bronx Home News (yes, the Bronx had a newspaper, an excellent one) in his thirties, he found some very good bookstores on East 149th Street in the Bronx, before the Bronx was broken up by expressways and many of its neighborhoods were bulldozed.
When my mom was starting to read -1934- my grandfather started to buy books for her in two neighborhood bookstores, around Pelham Parkway. Penrod’s was one. I don’t remember the name of the other. He bought her the latest Nancy Drew books (which were current at the time) and those of another series which she liked much better, the Beverly Gray books.
Beverly Gray lived mostly in New York and took a world cruise in a yacht and was attracted to a Count with a very questionable past. She then was kidnap(p)ed by pirates and lived to tell the tale. She was also in love with a dashing detective.
Nancy Drew lived in a small town and solved mysteries pertaining to houses, clocks and staircases. She had a boyfriend who was about as exciting as lima beans.
When we would go to my grandparents’ apartment –once a week, then once every other week- I would go into the closet smelling of old books and pillows and clothes and extract a book, which I would then read. The smells were almost as wonderful as the books. But not quite.
I remember how my mom’s glowing hazel eyes would sparkle when she talked about Beverly Gray, and how we laughed when we finally got to discuss them from an adult perspective.
No contest – for my mom or myself J