So last time I had us parked in the lot of Fletcher’s Books and Antiques (you can learn more about the store on its Facebook page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fletchers-Books-Antiques/116274205067634 .)
From outside, it looks like a small, somewhat ramshackle, wooden building--though it is actually much larger than it looks. It extends back away from the street so that there are several more rooms than are obvious from the front. It also, at one point, merges with a house, where the owner, Tyler Fletcher, makes his home.
Out front there is a sort of little yard, filled with all sorts of antiques and other objects, many of which, I suspect, simply can’t fit inside. I’ve seen everything there from massive flower pots to mill wheels. There is a path that leads through all of that and to the door. Every time we’ve been there in summer, the door is grandly and happily open. You simply walk in.
When you do that, you find yourself in the first room. It is large, if not overly so, but it can feel quite tiny given the amount of stuff in it. It’s all antiques and works of art. Some of it is, I suspect, quite impressive...but, frankly, we pass through that room fairly quickly. We are both interested in antiques, but neither of us collect them, and...again speaking very frankly...that room is a bit overwhelming for us. If you have the slightest problem with claustrophobia, well, let’s just say it is not the place for you.
Anyway, we usually take a left and pass quickly through that first room, past a small hallway, and finally into the second room, the one in the back. This is the book room, and it is definitely our favorite. It is, in fact, what we travel up from Georgetown to see. In it are the books...volume after volume...in shelves that go from floor to ceiling...in stacks and piles on tables, in other piles on the floor itself...
It is stunning. I’ve watched bibliophiles...people who have never been there before...enter that room and come to a complete halt. Their eyes will grow huge and you can watch their lips say silently “Oh. My. God.” or words to that effect.
Then they hurry into the fray...
Mr. Fletcher's Books
More Of Mr. Fletcher's Wares
It is an astonishingly eclectic mix -- antique books dating back decades, modern books, mysteries of every sort, science fiction, history, political science, magazines from all periods, children’s books...on, and on, and on. We’ve gotten all sorts of things there. Personally, in the last couple of visits I’ve purchased Vladimir Nabokov’s *Invitation To A Beheading* (too weird, even for me), Bill Browder’s *Red Notice* (a devastating portrait of Putin’s corruption and cruelty, written by someone who experienced both first hand), and, strangest of all, *Clothes Make the Man: or, How To Put The Broad In Broadcloth* by Elliott White Springs.
Springs (1896-1959), by the way, is a fascinating character. As a young man, he went off to WWI and became a fighter pilot and ace, shooting down at least ten enemy aircraft. He returned home to be a writer and a playboy, drinking, partying, chasing women and...let’s confess it...being chased by them. He was a handsome lad.
Then his father died and the Depression hit. He went home and assumed control of the family’s business, which happened to be textiles, specifically the Springs Cotten Mills. He revealed himself to be a brilliant and dedicated businessman. Among his innovation was advertising his sheets and cloth with pictures of really sexy women -- Pin-Ups, in effect. To everyone’s astonishment, the advertisements worked. I’ve heard various explanations for it. One is that men bought more sheets and pillow cases than people thought. Another is that women liked to pretend they were the women in the ads. The pin-up is, after all, a surprisingly powerful figure. She is manipulating the men who watch her, and she knows it.
Whatever the cause, the business was saved, and Springs Cotten Mills is with us to this very day.
You can see Mr. Springs’ Wikipedia entry here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliott_White_Springs while Springs Cotten Mills has a website here: https://www.springscreative.com/
Anyway, that day, we spent quite a long time looking at the books. I finished up slightly before Martha, so I took a moment to explore two other areas in the store. You remember that I said there was a sort of hall on one side of the front room? Well, follow that, and you come to a rather smaller room in the back. This is filled with Southwestern-themed religious items -- crucifixes, candles, statuary. I always visit that hall because it reminds me of New Mexico, but Martha avoids it. Too crowded for her.
I then turned back into the book room, and then into yet another small room that opens up from that. This is where Mr. Fletcher has his counter and checkout, and where he also has still more books, most of them also antiques. I’m sure that most of the volumes there are more than a century old.
I was just about to turn back to join Martha when a door opened in the back wall, and there was Mr. Fletcher, smiling and greeting me with warmth. Oh, and behind him, in the open door, I saw ... amazing things.
But I’ll get to all of that next time.
A photo of Martha just after we voted early in October, 2022. It has nothing to do with the story, but I liked the shot, and was proud that we’d managed to vote as soon as we did.
Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker
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