17 January 2015

Imagine if these shoes were books


Back in November I came across this story about a shoe store that was frozen in time. Somewhere in the U.S. a family inherited a building that just happened to have a shoe store in it that hadn't been touched since the 1960s.


In true Internet style the story appears to have been a retread (sorry) of something that happened at least a year earlier, but the pictures are real enough.





I was mesmerized by the photos and shared them on Facebook with a caption about how I wish it had been a bookstore frozen in time. A friend who is a reader but not a book junkie commented that he didn't think a bookstore would be as interesting as the shoe store. It was only when I started to write a response that I began to really think about how cool a bookstore frozen in time could be. Let's just assume the discovered shoe store was from 1963. Based on some of the truly old fashioned shoes and a lack of more modish stuff I think the store must have been early 60s. So let's say 1963. Imagine what you could have found in a bookstore frozen in time in 1963.

It was in the U.S., so there probably weren't many vintage Penguins.



But there probably would have been more than a few Signet Classics paperbacks.


Although these are probably older than the 1960s, there may have been a few Vintage paperbacks on the shelves as well.




But what about some books that were actually newly published in 1963?








After doing A Century of Books, the 1960s was not exactly my favorite decade. If you factor out D.E. Stevenson and Margaret Drabble, I didn't have much luck with the 60s. Especially if you consider that the loathsome Catch-22 and A Clockwork Orange were likely on those shelves. I probably would better appreciate a store frozen in time a decade or two earlier. What would be your dream year?




18 comments:

  1. big fun this article...thx. i'm w/ u..50s over 60s for bks, shoes...not so much.
    50s in my little century of bks = pym, shute, murdoch, capote, taylor, jackson..then top it off w/ 'cat on a hot tin roof' and 'lolita'....now that was decade. thanks for this...can't wait to see other comments...'what decade would u bring to your desert island?' quinn

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    1. I don't think I could bring just one decade. The thing about choosing a decade for bookshop to be frozen in time is that it would have all those decades of books predating that time. That in itself would be interesting to see. What classics were readers in the 1950s interested in? What classic authors may have been all the rage then that we don't think about as much these days?

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  2. I would probably like the 1940's. People would be writing about the war going on and about the depression. I don't know why but I like that time period in books. This has been a fun post. Though I do love the photos of the posts. I noticed that books and shoes sometimes date a bit and some don't.

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    1. Most of my WWII reading has been written after the fact. I can't think of any much that was written while the war was still going on.

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  3. what a lovely idea! There are parts of my premises that look like they're frozen in time from the 1960s - peak buying time for recently retired academics whose offices I clear - but that's mostly non-fiction.

    For me a shop form the 40s would be wonderful - especially a secondhand book shop as there would be lots of inexpensive early twentieth century stuff and despised Victoriana going very cheap! (I'd want the prices frozen too!). Trouble is here that you need a bookshop with no WWII damage.

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    1. I am very intrigued by this: "recently retired academics whose offices I clear". That sounds like a job I would like.

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  4. 1950. There would still be pre-war/WWII era books. The prices would be lovely.

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    1. I wonder how prices would be relative to buying power for other commodities and how that would compare to today. Where is a graduate assistant when one needs one?

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  5. How about the Heywood Hill bookshop when it was run by Nancy Mitford?

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    1. That is a brilliant thought. I'd like to poke around the counter. I imagine fountain pens and beautiful stationary.

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  6. In the 60's I was a child, and I will always love the children's books I read then (such as Charlotte's Web, although now that I think about it, that was probably published in the late 50's). However, I do use the Happiness Is...book every year as I learn about the children in my class. There's no better ground breaker than to hear what makes them happy. (Happiness is a big pile of books, my response as a child in third grade. Not much as changed. ;)

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    1. In the 1970s I was in an elementary school that had open classrooms. Essentially six "pods" of four "classrooms" each were all in one gigantic space with a "media center" (library) in the middle. Imagine 24 classrooms with no walls to separate them. How in hell did we ever learn anything? Anyway...I was in a pod called Snoopy's Gang and our theme song was Happiness. We sang it at all of our school programs. "Happiness is finding your skate key..."

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  7. Your thought experiments are agonizing...how come there isn't a REAL bookshop frozen in time?? Although I must admit that this shoe store would be pretty tempting as well ;)

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    1. Think about it, someone could freeze a store now and even 20 years from now we would be fascinated by it. Especially with things transitioning to ebooks. Of course from our perspective we'd like to go back in time, but 20, 30 years from now 2015 will seem kind of quaint.

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    2. Love that idea. One giant time capsule to be opened in 50 years...

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  8. I don't know that I'd have a dream year. I'd be thrilled with the idea that a bookstore had remained untouched and was just there waiting to be discovered!

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  9. I would go for the 1910s. Kafka, James Joyce as newish voices showing how the novel could be different but yiu would also have reprints pf what we now consider classics from late.nineteenth century. Hardy, Conrad et al

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  10. This is the closest thing to a time machine we are ever likely to see...if only it really were a long, locked-up bookstore... Then again, my wife and daughters would go nuts in a place like this shoe store.

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