Below is a semi-updated post from January 1, 2014:
In Cooperstown, on the corner of Pioneer and Main, is a bookstore. Well, it used to be a bookstore. They still sell books there, but now they also sell jewelry. And toys. And children’s clothes. (see update below for its current usage)
In the old days, it used to be a bookstore that also sold office supplies.
In the left-hand back corner of the store was a display case full of fine writing instruments. Not 99¢ Bic pens, but Cross pens that were gold or silver, and fountain pens with ink cartridges. I even think there were bottles of black India ink and blotters.
On the top of that glass case was a display Flair pens of every color imaginable. I loved to try new colors.
To the left of the back left hand corner, tucked away where it was easy to miss, was a door that led to my favorite room in the whole store. It might have been my favorite room on all of Main Street Cooperstown. It was quiet and smelled like paper.
Often there was a man working back there at desk. He sat with ledger books and an adding machine. A glance at me over the top of his half-eyes told me that he knew I was there; then, he would set back to work.
And I would begin my perusal.
Poster-board of many shapes and sizes stood in a rack as I entered. I never cared much about poster-board.
Blank notebooks were neatly stacked and arranged on a shelf along the whole right-hand wall. Nice paper, onion skin and bonded paper of varying weights, filled boxes and shelves. Ledger books stood in one stack, and receipt books made up another.
It was a room of possibility. Everything was blank, just waiting. Waiting to be filled with all sorts of words or numbers or pictures.
I miss it. Because Augur’s now has become more. More stuff. Less potential. It’s funny how that works.
But New Year’s Day — it’s like that back room.
Today, I can run my hands over the blank pages of the new year.
2018 update — now the store is called The Beverage Exchange. I went in there for the first time a few days before Christmas to buy a bottle of bourbon that one of my children wanted to give as a gift. Two things I never imagined — that Augur’s would one day become a glorified liquor store, and that I would ever be purchasing bourbon.
I asked to peek in the back room when I was there. I could see the open door and couldn’t resist.
“Sure,” said the store clerk. “That’s where things happen.”
It was part storage, part kitchen. In the evenings, The Beverage Exchange is a cocktail lounge — at least, that’s what the clerk said. A utility sink replaced the man at the desk. Boxes of who-knows-what replaced the countertop stacked with empty notebooks.
It was progress, I suppose.
But I felt sad.
Last year Owen had me for our gift exchange. Funny how that worked — last year he had me, this year I had him.
Part of his gift to me was two unassuming blank journals.
I have a “thing” for blank journals and I think it can be traced back to Augur’s.
Over 2017, I not only filled the journals that Owen gave me, but I stockpiled a small arsenal of new blank journals.
2018 will be the Year of the Journal. I have so many plans for them.
So much possibility lies in those clean pages.
And in 2018.