A Memorial For Duane Thorin Has Been Set For May 27 at The Ice House in Pasadena
Booklover, Song Writer, Musician
He Wrote “Occupy Your Car” the Classic Song About Homeless Folks and the Economic Meltdown
by Paul Hunt
Duane Thorin had music in his heart from birth. He loved to sing, play the guitar, entertain. But the path to that musical life was paved with obstructions and suffering. It was only when he was crushed by the 2008 meltdown like millions of other folks that he somehow rose from the ashes of despair to be able to live his dream of music, storytelling and song and make his mark on the Southern California cultural scene.
I first met Duane in the 1990’s when he was a frequent visitor to my bookshop in Burbank, Magnolia Park Books. At the time that I met him, he was installing swimming pools in middle class areas of San Bernardino and Riverside. Those were the years of the housing boom. The government and the banksters were pushing everybody who was breathing, and some who were possibly not even existing in this dimension, to buy a house. Out in the hinterlands of San Berdoo, there was a huge housing boom. They were springing up in every desert plot and sandy hill that was available. Mortgages were rubber-stamped, and the middle class, eager to participate in the great American dream, poured into the area.
The families that bought these new digs got settled in, but then they got a taste of summer. It’s not Death Valley, but it is boiling hot out that way. The moms and pops had to hear their kids whining about it every damn day. The summer boil. No school with air conditioning. No nice grassy back yards like in the Westside of L.A. Just sand dunes. What to do? Paying the mortgage was tough enough, no way for a real swimming pool like in Beverly Hills. So how about an above-ground pool? They are just big enough and deep enough to keep the kids wet, a place to play in the yard at least part of the brutal summer days. Once the parents bought the pool, they would be given a referral to a guy like Duane who would come out to your place with a crew and actually install the thing on your sandlot.
Duane was a big sturdy guy. Although he had worked in the entertainment world part of his life, several years booking acts into the Ice House in Pasadena, he still had to make a living. I don’t remember how he ever go into that business, but he did. Part of the lure of it was work like a dog all summer and make enough to live the rest of the year. The reward during Fall and Winter was to do the things that he really loved to do, singing, music, reading. But installing pools out in San Bernardino in the middle of summer is brutal work. The area had to be leveled, the rocks, snakes and lizards moved out, and then the pool put together so that when it was filled the water would stay inside.
He always had a tough time keeping a crew, the work was hell, long days when 100 degrees was the lowest it ever got, burning your skin off. Take your salt pills and drink gallons of water ’cause you’re going to sweat until you end up looking like a prune. Duane would come into my shop and occasionally dragoon some unemployed book – lover to work for him in the pool biz. If those guys lasted a week it was a miracle. Most were skinny and pale, night owls with an aversion to sunlight. I used to joke about it with him, telling him he was killing my customers. He said he was just trying to put some money in their pocket for an honest day’s work. Usually they were done in one or two days, and after a couple weeks of recuperation they looked forward to something a little less physical, like working at a Starbucks. Anything other than the sheer brutality of that scalding sun.
At times, even Duane had to back off for a few days. The pressure from the pool companies was intense. They would sell scores of pools and they depended on Duane to put them up. He had all his equipment loaded into a trailer, which he would pull out to the customer’s property. A difficult pool installation might take more than one day, sometimes several days. He would get a cheap motel and the crew would have to sleep there until the job was done. Just before the economy crumbled, an omen had popped up: his main guy, a really hard working Latino, was arrested and sent to prison for something. Duane was upset about that because he depended on him. It meant hiring 2 guys to replace him. The work load was intense, the phone always ringing, more jobs than he could ever handle. But it all came to a dead stop with the 2008 financial crash.
The big Meltdown hit everyone. The middle class was devastated. The poor class swelled with new members. Millions lost their houses, their savings, their way of life. San Bernardino looked like a big ghost town. Within a couple years, the City was sending guys out to the neighborhoods to spray green paint on dead lawns on the abandoned properties so they would look lived in. The pools were a big problem. The happy days of children splashing in the pools became the nightmare of the City, as the thousands of abandoned pools, now with stagnant algae packed water, became a breeding ground for billions of mosquitoes. City crews spent months draining the pools that Duane had built. We joked that maybe the thieving bankers visiting their now empty houses would get a well deserved dose of malaria in the process.
Back in the bookstore, I saw Duane on almost a daily basis. We became fast friends. He was talented, intelligent, funny and literate. His business had collapsed but he lasted a couple years on his savings. I had to close the book store about the same time, and move into my van. At some point, he ran out of money totally. There was no work in L.A. The homeless population was swelling, thousands of families living in cars and vans. He lost his apartment, but I found him an RV which he got parked on a friend’s property, a lovely couple living in the mountains of Altadena. Through this crushing defeat, Duane Thorin was reborn. It wasn’t easy, he and I were often together at food banks. We hung out at coffee houses. The weird thing was that he was free. Free to change. Free to pursue his dreams.
He now had time to devote to his music. He sang at coffee houses, ran open mic nights, sharpened his skills with his guitar, hustled some music jobs, wrote songs. He was killer at it. His creativity exploded.
He also had time to do something that he wanted to do for years. His dad, also named Duane Thorin, had been in the Korean war. He was captured by the North Koreans and thrown into a jail with other G.I.s. He managed to escape and was free for some time, trying to make it back to friendly lines, but was recaptured due to another G.I. making a stupid mistake. Duane’s dad was one of the only Americans to ever escape from the North Koreans. His recapture meant that torture and punishment would now be his life, and the North Koreans turned him over to the Red Chinese.
Duane had made a recording of his dad telling his story before his death, and wanted to get it out, so I helped him to produce a CD of the original recording. It’s an exciting story, although agonizing to re-live the captivity.
Duane, was very patriotic, and wanted folks to remember what those who served for us had to go through. Listen to Duane singing the National Anthem. It will floor you.
Duane’s career soared in the last few years. He was in demand as a singing coach and manager, he arranged and ran the musical entertainment for private celebrity parties, he sang at venues around the southland and wrote songs. We were blessed to have Duane’s music video, Occupy Your Car, and his original song about Walmart moving into a small town.
The songs are so powerful because Duane lived through it. He knew what it was to live in a car. He could write his songs from his heart, drawing on his own personal experiences. His good friend Donna has filmed and recorded Duane for years, and we are blessed with the preservation of his music.
His sudden death last week was a shock. He seemed healthy, in good humor, and leading the life he always dreamed about, the musical life. He had created a character called Chef Duaneo, an Italian Chef who sang opera. Duane had so much fun with that, and Chef Duaneo was a hilarious musical show that played around town.
L.A. has lost another great voice, a bard, a troubadour.
Duane Thorin joins some other noted musicians who have passed recently. I can’t help thinking that Heaven’s gotta be rockin’ right now.
This is a revised version of a story that I wrote two weeks ago for www.GypsyCool.com. –Paul Hunt
30% OFF Everything Sale Commences
Whimsic Alley, the popular fandom store, party and entertainment facility on L.A.’s Miracle Mile, has announced that it will be closing. Known for its elaborately themed interior, resembling a Dickensian street market and its castle-like Great Hall, the store developed a strong following among fans of Harry Potter.
Over the years, Whimsic Alley played host to hundreds of birthday parties, weddings, costume balls, themed tea parties, murder mystery dinners, summer camps, adult camps, wizard-rock concerts and filmings. Numerous Hollywood celebrities, including several of the stars of the Harry Potter films, have visited the store, held parties for themselves or their kids, or attended store events.
Long before the appearance of theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood, Potter fans from as far away as Russia, Israel, Australia and Asia reportedly planned their United States vacations with a visit to Whimsic Alley as an essential stop on their trip. Planners for both the global Harry Potter Exhibition and the Orlando, Florida Wizarding World of Harry Potter made frequent trips to Whimsic Alley as part of their preliminary research. One member of the London film production team reported that David Heyman, the producer of all the Harry Potter films, used to tell anyone from the film crew traveling to Los Angeles to be sure to stop in at Whimsic Alley while there.
Participants in Whimsic Alley’s annual “The Camp that Lived” (a name the campers came up with), developed strong bonds with fellow campers that have lasted years. The camp drew fans from all over the country and even featured the wedding of two of its campers.
Although Whimsic Alley has, since its inception, celebrated other fandoms as well, Harry Potter was the one that caught on the most. In recent years products and events have focused on fandoms such as Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Hunger Games, Outlander, Supernatural and others. Events featuring each of these themes have been held at Whimsic Alley. Recently, Sony Pictures hosted the kick-off of its current season of Outlander in the Great Hall, complete with an appearance by series author Diana Gabaldon.
According to Whimsic Alley’s owner, Stan Goldin, “New multi-million dollar theme parks and exhibitions are awe-inspiring. But for many years, Whimsic Alley filled a void that no one else seemed interested in filling. Our staff enjoyed serving our clientele as much as they hopefully enjoyed their experiences. As a result, we developed close friendships along the way which we hope will continue for many years to come.”
Whimsic Alley, located at 5464 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, has begun offering all of its merchandise at close-out prices. 310-453-2370
Note: If the store was listed in the previous article on the first Burbank – North Hollywood fold-out, the listings will be pretty much the same, although I might binge out a bit. There are many changes and new shops listed on this fold-out from 1999.
1 Atlantis Book Shop This was the old Bond Street Book Shop listed in the first flyer. This store began the Conspiracy – UFO video rental saga and along with a great History selection, became known for extensive sections on Politics, Deep State, Conspiracy, CIA Plots, Assassinations, Secret Societies, Ancient Mysteries and such. Redevelopment tore down the entire block, wiping out Atlantis Books just like the original Island of Atlantis of the Mediterranean, now largely known as Saudi Arabia, was destroyed. Many celebrities hung out here, including the great Jordan Maxwell. Filmmakers and television companies filmed here, surrounded by plans for Nazi UFO’s, photos of ETs, and stacks of books on various conspiracies.
2. Automotive Books This is actually Automotive Book Stop. (The Autobooks/Aerobooks shop near Hollywood Way did not want to participate in this flyer at the time, so was left out.) Owned and operated by Fred and Chris Chapparo, they closed the shop and retired in 2016, although they may still be selling some rare items online.
3. Bestseller Book Shop. Store closed several years ago. I started this store with a partner, it was all paperback books, and quite successful. Massive rent spikes put it out.
4. Book Castle/Movie World. This was the Movie Store next to the Gigantic Book Castle. The great Book Castle closed in 1994 when the rent went from $5M per month to an asking price of 30M per month, a number not possible to pay. Shortly after, my partner Steve and I parted ways, and he operated the Movie World shop, which is still at the same location and packed with much more than just movie memorabilia. A post on their facebook site in January said they may be closing this summer (not verified).
5. Book City – Burbank This store is long gone, although years after it closed a dollar book store opened for a short time. This shop was run by Alan Siegel, who owned Hollywood Book City. It was a huge shop, with a lot of good books although too many were behind locked cases, making it difficult to browse. As I remember it opened around 1980, but then was closed for months after the ill-constructed back loft collapsed. Luckily this happened in the middle of the night, because anyone underneath would have been crushed to jello.
6. Bookfellows Bookshop (Also known as Mystery and Imagination Bookshop) This great Science Fiction and Mystery Fiction shop is owned by Malcolm and Christine Bell. It began life in an embryo stage on Hollywood Blvd. in the 1970s when Malcolm Bell and Chuck Annegan opened a bookshop in an upstairs office at the Cowboy Young building. Heritage Book Shop and Atlantis Book Shop both also started there. Christine worked for the nearby Book Treasury on Hollywood Blvd., and later hooked up with Malcolm. Their first shop was on East Broadway Blvd. near S. Verdugo, in Glendale, later moving to Brand Blvd. to be where the action was. The shop closed last year (2016) due to impossibly high overhead. They were noted for their great book signings and top condition of their stock. They are now mail order only, you can find them on ebay and internet book sites.
7. Brand Bookshop One of the great large used book stores in the Los Angeles area, at its peak was about 7,200 sq. ft. of nicely shelved good stock. The store was opened and run by Jerome Joseph, a long-time area bookman, and one of the friendliest guys on earth. Unfortunately, Jerome took ill a few years age, and his friend and partner Noriyake ran the store until Jerome’s passing. The shop closed around 2015, leaving a void of a large general book store in the Glendale area.
8. CM Bookshop in Silverlake This was a small, but nice book shop that opened next to The Silverlake Coffee House. I’m not sure of the owner’s name, I think it was Carl, but he was a nice chap who started as a book scout. With a partner, he opened a shop in Old Town Pasadena called Book Alley, which was later sold and is now on East Colorado with a different owner, Tom Rogers. This shop is long gone, too bad, it was so pleasant to buy a book and then go next door to the coffee house and have some java. On hot summer days the air conditioning in the coffee house beckoned, but when the weather permitted the outside patio was even a better place to read a book and watch the endless parade of pretty girls going into the coffee house for their blended Iced Mocha Whipped Cream Strawberry Thinga Majings
9. Dark Delicacies This shop specializes in Horror and Fantasy Fiction, and is a mecca known around the country. It moved to its present location at 3512 W. Magnolia where it is going strong. Their current location is a couple doors from what used to be Magnolia Park Bookshop. Great displays in the front windows is a tradition, and they keep a full schedule of author signings, including stars of horror and science fiction films.
10. Dutton’s Books – Burbank Store Closed years ago, see post about it and the Dutton Book Empire elsewhere on this blog. (check the list of articles and stories). This was the perfect neighborhood book shop, run by an intelligent staff. They carried both new and second hand books, with lots of perennial classics.
11. Dutton’s Books – North Hollywood This was Dave Dutton’s flagship store. When business took a dive in the 2008 crash he retired. The premises was a Yoga Studio for a while, I don’t know who is in there now. It was a great shop, and I spent many hours browsing there. It was a large store, with an interesting mix of new and second-hand. Books were piled everywhere. Dave could usually be found in the parking lot area behind the shop, sorting through the never-ending avalanche that poured in. Dave and his shop missed by everyone with an ounce of culture.
12. Howard Lowery Gallery Specialty here was animation art of all kinds, especially Disney art, movie memorabilia, and comic art. Howard was a very experienced dealer in these fields, having run the monthly auctions at Collector’s Bookshop on Hollywood Blvd. for years. He ran his own auctions, usually held at the Burbank Hilton, and made a name for himself as the go-to expert in the field of animation art. The shop is sadly long gone and I believe Howard is retired.
13. Iliad Bookshop Owned by Dan Weinstien, he was forced to re-locate when the rent spike hit. This shop on Vineland was famous for its great Mural that covered all three storefronts. Dan found another spot and managed to scrape enough together to buy his building, and is now at 5400 Cahuenga Blvd., in North Hollywood. He has a great new Mural that runs on two sides of the building, as we have written about and photographed on this site. Treat yourself to a visit to this wonderful store, packed with good books and with really great prices. This is the last big book shop to survive in the area, so please support it. One of his cats is pictured on our banner.
14. Last Grenadier – Burbank This store had an excellent selection of Military History, books on Uniforms, Regimental Histories, related magazines, and also board games and armies of little lead soldiers, many colorfully painted by their staff. Just before the wrecking ball took out the block they moved up north a few blocks on the same street, but the high rents eventually forced another move, this time over to the west side of Burbank on Hollywood Way, just south of Magnolia. They were there for a few years but closed when the rents went up. The owner, Rocky, at one time had 5 game stores and with partners ran the Los Angeles area game and military conventions, always a lot of fun to attend.
15. Magnolia Park Book Shop. This shop started over 70 years ago by two guys who were remainder book salesmen. Eventually it sold to a gentleman who bought the property. He had a manager running the shop, but the manager died in a tragic car crash. Also killed in the crash was his son, the product of a concurrent marriage with another woman, wife #2. A bitter shock to wife #1. His widow ran the shop for years. She sat by the front door, a thin, wizend old gal, smoking a cigarette and usually talking to anyone who would listen. Her opinions about her present and former customers were classic and caustic. I got the impression there weren’t many folks that she liked, except her friend the landlady, who was in her 90s and renting the store to her for the bargain price of $300 per month. I leased the shop in 1993 when she retired to an old folks home, paying over 5 times the rent the previous tenant paid. Four months later the place was almost entirely destroyed by the January 17, 1994 earthquake. The front windows blew out, the ceiling collapsed, the shelving came down and the water lines snapped, flooding the shop and ruining thousands of books. It took us months to recover, but eventually it opened and was very successful. The shop ran for about 10 years under the capable management of Gaye Hunnicutt. It eventually was closed due to the building being sold to a rich landlord who wanted the location for his daughter’s mattress shop. That lasted a year, now it is a high end spa. From Books to Bedding and Beyond, to slur a current ad slogan. But hey, in this society what’s more important? Fancy Nails for sure. Definitely the new standard for culture. Daaahling, with those long nails you couldn’t even turn the page of a book without tearing it.
16. Reader’s Edge This shop was actually in Montrose, a City that used to be part of the north end of Glendale. It was located on a charming tree-lined street and served the local community with a selection of used paperbacks and hardcovers. The old couple who ran it were very nice folks, I think the store closed many years ago because of their failing health and old age.
17. Twice Told Tales A tiny shop about a block from Magnolia Park Books on the North side of the street, run by a character who could have been out of a Jack London novel: Ty Stanley (not his real name as I found out later). He was a Chicago guy, and palled around with Jay Robert Nash, the famous writer of true crime and mafia books, including the massive Encyclopedia of True Crime. He looked like he was Klaus Kinski’s twin brother, just frightening enough to ward off trouble at crucial moments. He was always scouting for books and paintings and he was a frequent “guest” at the old Bond Street store, bringing in boxes of material to flog on us. He was one of the most dedicated book scouts I ever met, and I learned a lot of advanced techniques from him. When relaxing he always had some wild stories to tell about his Chicago days. I got the impression that it was a good idea for him not to go back there. One tragic incident that occurred toward the end of his career was that he was hit on the head from behind with a crow bar and robbed of a large amount of cash that he always carried. This happened at a liquor store in the seedy area of NOHO. The attacker stole his van, with him in it, parked it and left him pretty much for dead. He seemed to recover from that horrible incident, but he was drinking a lot of beer, which led to a drunk driving arrest. He called my book shop from jail and wanted us to post bond for him, which we agreed to do. Against our advice he sent one of his young friends up to the store to pick up the $1500 bail money. The guy he sent was another book scout, generally a good guy, related to a famous book family in Los Angeles, but at the time sucking fumes out of a crack pipe. He picked up the cash for Ty’s bail and then disappeared, not seen again for months. This happened on a Friday, meaning that since the bail was not paid Mr. Stanley was still in the can on Monday, calling us as soon as he could Que up for a pay phone. He wondered if we had had a change of heart, but blew his stack when we said we had given the dough to his pal, who had probably gone on a two-month crack binge. My partner Steve then went downtown to L.A. County Jail and posted bond for him, another $1500, springing him Monday night. Ty paid us back immediately. He then went looking for his pal, but luckily (for both of them) he couldn’t find him, or there might have been some Chicago style justice. Sometime in the 1990s he had a heart attack and died. His son – whom Ty had never mentioned, cleaned out the shop. Thus ended the fascinating tales that emanated from that little hole in the wall. Too bad Jay Robert Nash didn’t write Ty Stanley’s biography, it would have been a doozy.
18. Weinstein Fine Books A nice shop in central Glendale run by a veteran bookman and a member of the Weinstein family, Sam Weinstein. In his career he started, bought and sold several bookshops, I remember I first met him in Vista, CA. where he was running a shop. This store is long gone, and Sam passed in 2017. His son Dan owns and operates the great Iliad Book Store in NOHO.
19. H & H Book Services. This shop is an old fashioned book bindery, run by two brothers, John and Jack Papuchyan, both superb artists and craftsmen. They opened their first bindery in Burbank in the rear area of a store behind the old Bond Street Books. Later they landed jobs at Heritage Books in West Hollywood. They moved to this location many years ago, and if you need a rare book restored, this is where you go. The shop is still open at this writing.
Once again, I hope you have enjoyed looking back at the golden age of book shops in the Burbank, NOHO, and Glendale area. Out of the 19 shops listed only 4 survive, and two of those are at different locations. Please send your comments, memories, corrections, or whines to us.
by Paul Hunt
Stumbling around my crib on a recent early Saturday morning, I settled into my command center’s decrepit seat-sagging swivel chair with a cup of coffee, hoping to wake up enough to answer some email.
9 a.m. Time to punch up Steve Eisenstein’s Saturday morning internet radio show from Florida on WDBFradio.com. I was half listening while trying to get my old HP to fire up. Steve was running some kind of contest, something about “who was the author who just sold his old typewriter for over $37,000?” Hint, he wrote a book called Lonesome Dove. Glugging down some coffee woke me up a bit. Suddenly, my mind replayed an old flashback from some 15 years before.
One of my close friends, a wild and eccentric bookseller named Barry Cullwell, had decided to pull up stakes and move to Nevada. He was mainly a wholesaler and consistently came up with great loads of books. He had spent a year building out a very unusual bookstore very close to the Los Alamitos Race Course, one of his favorite spots. His bookstore included a fancy cigar humidor cabinet, which he had built entirely by hand. For Barry, it was approaching Southern California nirvana: A well-stocked bookstore, a side line of fine antiques, a large cigar humidore, and walking distance to the track, a place that he spent quite a lot of time, which is why it took him a year to build out the store.
He had a grand opening. I went down and bought a pile of books. The next day, Barry closed the store. Like for forever. It was sad, really, a fine shop loaded with good books, and a year’s work, and open only one day. But something had come up and he was moving to Nevada. He put his house up for sale and his girlfriend put her condo on the market. He emptied the book store and moved all his books up to the house and piled them in with all the others. The house, the condo, the garage, all packed tight, and I mean really tight. He called me up and said “I’m moving, find me a buyer for all these books.”
I had heard that Larry McMurtry was trolling around the country buying books. He had bought the town that he had grown up in, sniping off the buildings one by one until he owned them all, and then started filling the empty storefronts with books. It was a grand scheme, but the drawback was that the town was somewhere in Texas in the middle of nowhere. Even if you got to the place, accommodations were slim, so show up in your RV or with a sleeping bag. This was a destination for only the hardiest of book geeks.
After dialing McMurtry’s various book stores around the country, I finally made contact and he said he would love to look at the massive Cullwell load during his next trip out to L.A. A few weeks later, he arrived, and I met him for lunch.
McMurtry was a Southern gentleman, and we got along just fine, until I asked him what was in the box he was trundling with him. He said it was his typewriter. I asked him if he was going to drop it off at a thrift store. This was the first of my many annoying foux pas of the day. McMurtry patiently explained that he wrote all his books using one prized model of a portable typewriter, a Hermes 3000, and he always carried it with him, with clones of the same exact model stashed around the country in various places that he visited or lived. “I’ve got 9 or 10 of these,” he cheerfully explained, “and keep one in every book shop that I own, plus reserves in various apartments and other places.” He was without a doubt, the Hermes Typewriter Company’s best promoter. Too bad they were out of business.
We got into a low-key but sometimes heated discussion about the virtues of using a computer as the greatest writing instrument ever invented. He didn’t see it that way. He had written all of his novels on the old Hermes. Plus, he had also written over 40 screenplays, all by pounding the portable typewriter. To me, at the time, it was beyond belief that anyone would prefer to do that much writing on some clunky old typewriter. I had grown up with them, and had used them myself, but when I got my first look at a computer, that was it. I never wanted to see or use one of those dreadful machines ever again.
McMurtry could not be convinced by any argument from me, he had of course heard them all before. His mind was made up. In fact, he seemed to be a little superstitious, like a baseball player who has to use the same exact bat, or make the same weird motions to ward off failure. To him, Hemingway, Steinbeck, and others could not be wrong. They all loved the Hermes portables. I got the feeling that he felt that if he used something else then he might write a dud of novel. In reality, that was not going to happen: he is America’s great storyteller. There is no way he’s going to fail because he switches to a computer. But maybe he thinks it would go that way, so why take a chance?
I got to thinking about it later, and came up with a couple of reasons to use a typewriter. Since erasing something is so damned hard, using white out or one of those tough pencil typewriter erasers with a brush on one end, one might become a little more cautious, think a little more clearly about what’s going to be put on the paper, and in what order. A manual typewriter might actually improve somebody’s writing by making it such a pain in the butt to erase a mistake that you would go out of your way not to make too many of them. Plus, some of the really good machines, like his Hermes, had a nice feel to it when properly tuned up.
I couldn’t convince myself to dump the computer and go back to a manual typewriter. I love my computer, the laptop is the greatest. In its day, the Swiss company that made Hermes (and watches, and music boxes) were the among the finest designers and manufacturers in the world. But by the early 1980s they were gone. Like Barry Cullwell’s bookstore. Like forever.
But Larry McMurtry is a sly one. When he put 2 of his beloved machines up for auction recently, he knew that the typewriter was not just a machine, it had become an icon. The machines that churned out the great novel Lonesome Dove, were beautiful, magical icons. The 2 Hermes brought $37,500 at auction. It is doubtful that any computer he could have used at the time would bring anything near that amount. Larry McMurtry laughed all the way to the bank, which might have actually been a long way if he was holed up in his ghost town in Texas. And, he admitted, he still had about 15 more of them stashed away or still in use! If the rest of his army of Hermes brings about the same money, he could be looking to raking in over $200,000 for them. Hey, that’s why icons are iconic!
Back to the radio show. After the above had flashed through my sleep deprived brain, I called the show with the answer to the question of the day. I won the contest. My prize was a beautiful signed copy of The Penitent, the wonderful story by Isaac Bashevis Singer.
The two days I spent with McMurtry were certainly the highlights of that long ago year. Endless book chatter with a legendary bookman is not soon forgotten. Another argument I lost with him was in trying to get him to open up a book store in Los Angeles. My sales pitch about the glorious Southland could not sway him to leave his town in Texas. He also ended up not buying the Cullwell collection, so I didn’t collect a commission on that deal either, although it was sold soon after to another bookseller. I don’t feel bad about losing all the arguments to McMurtry – any writer who can get over $37,000 for two old typewriters is a giant in my view. Bill Gates eat your heart out, you lost to a Hermes, but many grateful thanks for the PC, I love it dearly as do billions of other earthlings. Except maybe for one guy in Texas.
by Paul Hunt
Here’s the guide to the book shops of the period: This was a tri-fold, so if you print this on both sides of one sheet and then fold in thirds, you will have an exact replica.
The once thriving book trade in the Burbank – North Hollywood area is long gone. The high rents are the culprit here, as the normal turnover due to booksellers retiring or dying is usually replaced by the younger generation. This is no longer the case, as what few apprentices as there are have no means to open a brick and mortar shop under the current climate of real estate insanity.
Let’s do a quick overview of the above flyer, in order of listing.
I hope you enjoyed this overview, I have some photos and more to say about some of these shops if anyone actually wants to know. The end result is that out of the 14 shops on the flyer only 3 are still surviving in the area, which has gone through massive gentrification, Los Angeles and Burbank pouring billions of dollars into the area which has greatly benefited large real estate and corporate interests.
About 40 years ago it was popular for book stores in a local area to band together and publish little folded flyers or guides to shops in the area that sold books. Some listed used book shops only, others had both new and used shops listed. As I come across these in my archives I’m going to publish them. The first one I found is the guide “The Bookstores of San Diego”. This was a directory of the active members of the San Diego Booksellers Association, and is dated 1991/1992 edition.
Aside from an old telephone yellow page directory, these old guides are one of the only surviving listings of local shops. And remember that a bookshop that is NOT a member of a local group may not be listed in their flyer. I remember putting together a guide to book stores in the North Hollywood – Burbank – Glendale area many years ago. I’ll publish it when and if I find a surviving copy. These guides are like a photograph in time, not a complete history. Shops come and go, and if the guides are updated you can notice the additions and subtractions of the stores.
The guides, being ephemeral, were not meant to last forever, and most, of course, did not, so surviving copies, no matter how wrinkled or smudged or coffee stained, are to be treasured. Send them to me so I can post them on this site. Feel free to download and save the guides that I re-print here, print them out and also save them as .pdf files on your computer.
A good project for someone would be to put up a database, with all known used book shops the country, with information as to who the owners are/were, when founded, years of operation, reference notes, websites, addresses, phone numbers, photographs, etc. Maybe this should be part of a university or public library project.
The link to the Southern California Independent Booksellers, scbabooks.org goes to an “It’s Your Lucky Day” page saying you can buy this site from GoDaddy.
However, The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association is still alive, although I had a bit of trouble finding it. The original site was SCBABOOKS.ORG, I assume standing for Southern California Booksellers Asssociation. The director was Jennifer Bigelow. Clicking on this site (scbabooks.org) takes you to a GoDaddy parking page, site renewal is expired and site will be up for sale. I found an article from 2012 stating that Jennifer Bigelow had resigned as director to spend more time with her family.
The good news is that the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association is alive and well, now at a different website, which is SCIBABOOKS.ORG. You can join for free and access the list of book store members and save it or print it out. This is a great group to belong to if you own a book store.
Researching for an article on Southern California Book Shops brought up some interesting things. The old San Diego Booksellers Association website sdbooks.org goes to a GoDaddy parking page, basically meaning the site is up for sale.
I checked the bookmarket.com website, which lists bookseller and bookstore associations, with links you click on. The link to the San Diego Booksellers gives an error message that the site can’t be reached.
I checked the San Diego Book Awards Association, which links up authors to various resources. Their link to the San Diego Booksellers Association is also dead and goes to a search page. Until I can find any information to the contrary I have to assume that the San Diego group has vanished.
However, an old list of San Diego Booksellers can be found on this site: http://www.patentlore.com/sandiego/sdbs_assoc.htm#W
This patent help site has a lot of links, many of which are dead. One trick to get high up in google search is to have a lot of links, which makes google think your site is important. This site has a lot of links, but many are not up to date. The list of Booksellers here is really old, possibly taken from an old guide. Please note that many of the shops listed are out of business or moved, so call first or do more research.
Another site I found regarding San Diego book stores is a google.com map of “San Diego Used Book Stores”. The map lists 13 shops. When you click on any of the shops, the basic information of the store appears, along with a miss-spelling “They Cary” books on such and such topics. This annoying miss-spelling is on all of the links. There is no attribution on who created this map, most of the shops seem to be in business, although clicking on the Parmer Books website it goes to a search page, so they are possibly gone. Also note that their listing of D.G. Wills book store is spelled “Willis”, so be aware of that mistake.
Although many of the old used book shops are gone, there’s still some great stores, like Adams Avenue. In the early days of computer databases I used to train (for free) owners and employees of used book stores on how to use Record Manager and Bookmaster. I think Adams Avenue sent some employees up to our shop for training. I’m thrilled that they are still going strong, they have a fine book shop. Check out their website at: www.adamsavebooks.com., and visit their store when you are in the area.
Another really cool site to check out is D.G. Wills in La Jolla. His website is www.dgwillsbooks.com. Tons of fantastic photos of his previous author events are on the site. He also has a youtube channel with a lot of great videos of famous authors who have appeared at his store. You can find this at: https://www.youtube.com/user/DGWillsBooks. He had some of America’s greatest authors at his book signing events, many of which he thankfully video taped and is sharing for free. This is really a treasure.
Hope you have fun drooling over all the shops that are left. Click on the Button Below to access the .PDF files for the San Diego Book Shop Booklet list, just remember many of the shops are gone. You can print these pages out if you wish, for your “Remember When” fantasy scrapbook!
Click on the link below
by Paul Hunt
It’s weird, and I know it goes against all medical advice, but hoarders who live with two feet of trash throughout their house usually live longer than people who live in a place where you can eat off the floor. I’ve been in houses that were so clean they look like a commercial for comet cleanser. The human occupants were dead in their 40s or 50s. On the other hand, old folks living in refuse are always in their 90s. Maybe it’s the chemicals in all the cleansers we use. Maybe I’ve just been a victim of extreme coincidence, who knows? My theory is that people living in rubbish piles have built up their immune systems to the point that almost nothing can kill them. Maybe the billions of parasitic, microscopic things living on and near them actually protect them from other dangerous-to-human bacteria. The answer to this, and many other medical questions are probably to be found in the basement of Harvard Medical School, where the millions of scientific papers from the last two hundred years are stored away from prying eyes. I don’t have the time to look through them, but maybe some AI robot could be put to work in the future.
Ah, the life of a bookseller. You just sit around and read books all day, right? Once in a while, someone calls and you trudge over to a neatly kept house and browse through some dust-free books and select some nice things to fill in your inventory. For me, the reality was quite different from the get-go. I began in the warehouse district of downtown Los Angeles, over 40 years ago. I started by prowling through the bins of trash, books, papers, and magazines found in the back rooms of charities. Gritty work. But good training because it was downhill from there.
It also seems that when you get the call to look through a hoarders hell house, it always happens when the temperature in L.A. Is around 100 degrees, with no breeze. Crawling through some old garage or attic, breathing the thick dust that is disturbed, looking for something decent that can be sold if it doesn’t get ruined by the gallons of sweat dripping off you.
It was just such a hot day in the San Fernando Valley when a call came in from my pal Keith Burns. “Hey, meet me tomorrow at (blank, blank address). Oh, and wear your combat gear, the place is a bit of a mess.” The next day I showed up in full gear, ready to root through the debris. Gloves, goggles, hat, boots, dust mask, flashlight. The old gal in her 90’s who opened the door to this hoarders hell did not say a thing about my costume. “Your friend is in the living room” she said cheerfully, looking down at my combat boots.
What a mess the place was. A charming stilt house perched on the side of a canyon hill, nothing could prepare me for the two to three feet of trash solid throughout. A rare case this was, as Keith researched the psychological impacts, as both husband and wife were hoarders. Usually, I was told, it was only one person. In this case both contributed to the décor. Both also lived to a ripe old age. I thought of all the hours they saved by never taking out the trash. Just pitch it on the floor, why bother to trudge to the garbage can? The time could be better spent reading a book or watching TV. Well, in this case, not TV, it took us a while to find it, buried under a landslide in the living room.
We started in the living room, digging down to the lower levels, finding quite a few books. The dead husband was a photographer, and ordered a lot of books on the subject, which we found wrapped and unopened as delivered by the mailman a decade previously.
We worked one day a week at the house, throughout the hot summer. It was so hot and dusty, one day a week was about all we could take. We made our way, room by room, digging and rooting through the debris. The lady of the house had been moved out into a long- term care facility, Keith would pick her up and let her roam around the house, looking for a few little tchotchkes to take back to her room at the old folks home. Keith and I avoided the kitchen, which was a breeding ground of biological materials. One day when I arrived I swear I saw a guy who looked like Saddam Hussein taking samples from the refrigerator. Maybe it was just the ghost of the husband, looking for a beer.
We had to shovel out enough debris from the bathroom and bring in some soap so it could be used. When we got to the bedroom, we had to step up about a foot above the two foot debris level, careful not to hit our heads on the ceiling. I spent one entire day with Keith digging out books from under the bed, which had been packed with old newspapers. There was no air conditioning. We opened the windows, and only more 100 degree heat came in. We sweat through our clothes. I was laying on the bed, hanging over the side, digging out stuff from under the bed when Keith reached over with a stick, pretending it was a rat running up my leg. I screamed and levitated three feet in the air. I came down and landed hard on the filthy bedspread, sending up a monstrous dust cloud. He laughed about that for weeks. One day, we went out and grabbed a few burgers for lunch. We accidentally left one in the bedroom on top of the dresser. The next week when we returned, it was gone. Only a few shreds of paper were left. Something else, something not human, was living in the bedroom, and it was hungry.
We eventually finished up the house as best we could, and spent the last few outings in the garage, just before the whole place was to be gutted out, I assume with steamshovels.
When we opened the garage door, the sunlight glistened off the hundreds of black widow webs, covering most of the airspace. Since I was the one with the boots on, I clambered over the 5 foot stack of crumbling boxes of stuff, rooting around, trying to find something of interest. I found a case of unopened coke cans. Maybe we could put them in the fridge. Alas, although they were unopened, they were empty. I have no idea what biological process was at work to perform that strange miracle. I eventually found some books and some wrapped up prints that I sailed across the garage like Frisbees through the spider webs to Keith who then brushed them off and loaded them into boxes. I made it out of the garage without a bite, but I had nightmares for a week of being attacked by huge black widow spiders.
We did find some good books and prints in this epoch, enough to pay gas, lunch, and maybe laundry bills. This includes the food offerings to the mysterious creature in the bedroom. I’m writing about this “book call” to the hoarders lair only because I happened to bring my camera on a couple of the days and snapped some photos, to remind me of how hard it is to get books sometimes. It’s not for the squeamish. There were many other such adventures, the story usually better than the actual booty, but as the saying goes, “The journey is it’s own reward.”
by Paul Hunt
Garvin bails out of Hollywood and Moves to Paradise, opens a Book and Rock Shop; Helps to found the California Book Fair; Garvin vs. Civilized Society in Burbank and the ABAA; Founds the Geo-Literary Society; Feuds with Sol Grossman and leaves the Book Fair; Troubles with Wifey; The Last Days; Lindy Saves the House.
With two other partners, I opened the Burbank Book Castle in May of 1981 on the sleepy old Burbank Golden Mall, which Johnny Carson used to refer to derogatorily as “Beautiful Downtown Burbank”. It actually was beautiful, a hidden oasis at the far end of Burbank, nestled next to the mountains, far from the concrete jungles of central Los Angeles. The mall was an “outdoor” affair, a surviving remnant of urban design from the 1960s, with the shops facing an area of grass and gorgeous trees from around the world. Parking was free and plentiful behind all the storefronts, leaving customers to walk through the park-like setting for blocks without having to dodge cars. It was as close to a retail paradise as you could ever get.
After I got settled in for a year or so, I went back to Hollywood and stopped in to see Garvin. He was miserable. The Boulevard was changing, rents going up, a lot of violence on the street, bookshops moving out to the Westwood area near U.C.L.A. I suggested he move out to Burbank. There were plenty of empty storefronts, rents were reasonable, and although business was slow, it was safe and had potential. I invited Jack out for a tour and he liked what he saw. The strange thing was that Jack and his wife were actually living in Burbank, buying a house in the Northern part, near Lockheed, but had never ventured to the Burbank Golden Mall. This was somewhat understandable, as the Mall was well hidden. The City refused to put up signs directing visitors, even when the merchants offered to pay for them, and since the Mall was “inside-out”, with the back of the storefronts facing wide parking lots, it was sort of invisible to traffic driving by, unless you knew it was there. The City, of course, was secretly planning to gut the whole Mall under redevelopment, which they finally managed to do after a 20 year struggle with merchants and landlords. It is now back to being a street, all corporate owned, the original landlords mostly gone, replaced by REITs, and wall to wall restaurants and movie theaters, just like every other downtown in the County. But in the 1980s it was wonderful.
Garvin liked what he saw, and soon rented a nice shop about a block away from me, at 321 N. Golden Mall. He called it Garvin’s Book and Rock Shop. Garvin was always interested in rocks, geology, and gemstones as well as books. He had bought equipment to cut and polish gemstones, and displayed beautiful gems and mineral samples in his shop. Every year Jack would load up his old van with books he had acquired on geology, minerals and gems and head out to Tuscon, Arizona for the big Gem and Mineral Show. He would rent a hotel room and sell books and buy or trade for mineral samples and gems. These he would bring back to Burbank and display in his shop. The load coming back was always heavier than going in.
Jack’s love of gems and minerals led him to found, or help found The Geo-Literary Society, a group whose interest was books, ephemera and documents on everything from old mining operations to new and old books on the related subjects. In this field, Jack carved out a name for himself, and was recognized as an expert in the field. Anytime I found books or ephemera of interest to Garvin, he would pick it up from me and take it up to his shop, where he would always be able to get a good price for the material, the split with us much more that we could ever get, as Jack had the customers for it, both in Burbank and in Tucson.
Garvin loved Burbank. After he was established his business picked up. The gems and minerals sold to a steady group of customers on the Mall, the books on gems and minerals could be sold in Tucson if need be. He decided to participate in some community events, something that he never did in Hollywood, which led to a few amusing incidents.
The first was when the burger chain Fuddruckers opened up on the Mall. They invited all the merchants to come in for a pre-opening free dinner. This was music to the ears of booksellers, all of whom would much rather spend money on books instead of food. The merchants packed into the restaurant one night for a burger feast. Garvin joined us, sitting down next to me at a table. Fuddruckers had great burgers, a sidebar where you could add all kinds of condiments, and plenty to drink.
I looked over at Garvin’s plate. There wasn’t any burger to be seen, just a large bowl of chopped jalapenos peppers from the condiment bar. “Hey Jack, where’s your burger?” I said.
“The meat here is no good, kid, I checked it out,” he said.
The burger was delicious, and I tried to pitch him to go get one, but he waved me off, and started to gobble down his bowl of chopped jalapenos with some cut tomatoes sprinkled on top. Wow, I thought, what a man of steel this guy is. I had never met anyone who could sit down and snarf up an entire bowl of those spicy peppers. Maybe a guy from Mexico, but no gringo could do this, except, evidently, the Rock Man. Frankly, I was somewhat stunned. I could eat a few of them mixed in with a salad. But an entire bowl? No way.
I watched Garvin. He gobbled up the whole bowl very quickly, just snorting it down. After a few minutes, he got up from the table and when he returned he had a large bowl of vanilla ice cream. He also snarfed that down quickly. When he had finished he said “Well kid, see you tomorrow, I’m going to head home.”
The next afternoon, on the way to the bank, I stopped in to The Rock shop to see if Garvin was still alive.
“Boy, I had a bad night, kid. My stomach was on fire. That joint is no good, the food is rotten. Even a bowl of ice cream couldn’t cool off my gut.”
“Jeez, Jack, it’s no wonder. I couldn’t believe that you ate an entire bowl of chopped Jalapenos peppers.”
“Chopped Jalapenos? Uggh.” he grunted. “Kid, I thought those were olives!”
Smoking two packs a day had destroyed his taste buds.
He somehow lived through that experience to go on to the next incident of bad food behavior, one that caused a lot of trouble.
The next incident, which sent some shock waves through the top tier of commercial elites in Burbank, revolved around the opening of a new movie theater next to the Golden Mall. The owners of the theater decided to throw a shindig for the city officials and various big shots, like the bankers, top tier realtors, and lawyers. Invitations were sent out. Not included were the peasants and especially dealers in used books and rocks. Somehow, Garvin heard about this event, and decided that he should be there to sip champagne and nosh with the elites of the city. He stopped by my shop one Tuesday evening on the way to the party.
“Hey kid, are you going to the big shindig tonight.”
“Uhh, no Jack, I wasn’t invited, it’s sort of a private affair for the big shots.”
“They won’t notice, we’ll just slip in. I heard there’s going to be plenty of food and booze.”
“I’ll pass on this one, Jack. Besides, it’s a dressy affair. Everyone will be wearing suits or sport coats. They might notice you with your red and white checkered lumberjack shirt on.
“Aw kid, you’re too paranoid. Selling all these books on conspiracies has got to you. It starts in 10 minutes. I’m going to slip in and grab a bite. See you tomorrow,” he said, heading out the door.
The next afternoon, during the slow time after lunch, I walked up to Jack’s shop to see if he had managed to escape arrest for crashing the party.
“Hey, Jack, how’d it go last night? Did they let you in?”
There was one character trait that Garvin had. No matter how embarrassing an event in his life could be, he would tell anyone about it. Most folks, not wanting to look bad, would never tell anyone about some major faux pas that would reflect on themselves. With Jack, it was all there for anyone to hear and howl about. He never seemed to care about any social implications.
“Well kid, it was a disaster. I got in ok, I just walked in like I belonged there. You were right, all the big shots were dressed to the nines. They had a great spread put out. I ate way too much, they had the best food and horsd’oeurves.
“I was stuffed full, so I thought I would take a breather. I lit a cigarette and I saw a table behind me, I put my arm back to lean against the table. How was I to know that they had brought in a huge cake and put it right where I wanted to lean back? My arm accidentally went right into the cake.”
“Good God, Jack, into the cake? You ruined the big cake?” I could envision a gaping hole in the cake, laced with small red and white threads from his lumberjack shirt.
“Yeah, it was bad. Some woman screamed. Then the chef came running toward me, yelling and screaming.
“What did you do, make a break for the door?”
“No, but I knew I was in trouble. I had to go on the offensive. When the chef got up to me, I yelled at the top of my voice, ‘DON’T JUST STAND THERE YOU IDIOT – GET ME A TOWEL.’ I waved my arm at him, it had cake and iceing all over it. See, kid, in these situations you gotta turn things around. My yelling at him interrupted his thoughts, which were probably to kill me, and he ran off to get me a towel. I wiped the cake off my shirt and then got out of there pronto.”
“Now I gotta send the shirt to the cleaners.”
“Yeah Jack, but the cake, it must have cost them a hundred bucks for one of those huge cakes.”
“It was their fault, why did they put it behind me there without telling me?”
Around this time, Jack was angry with the ABAA. He had gone to one of the monthly meetings, which was at Heritage Book Shop’s elegant digs in a remodeled mortuary building on the edge of Beverly Hills. He was upset that there was not much food, just a cracker and cheese plate.
“Kid,” he told me, “those guys with all their money are so cheap that they don’t even put on a big spread. They should have plenty of food and some wine. What they put out to eat was pathetic, with all their money.”
I tried to tell him that it was just a bookseller’s meeting, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He pointed out that even our Golden Mall monthly merchants meeting had a good dinner set up, since the meeting was at 6pm they felt it was appropriate to feed everyone. This anger at the ABAA not having a good meal at the meetings led Jack to also begin talking about putting on a book fair every year in Southern California, a low price show where booth rents were reasonable and the admission was free or very low.
“The ABAA show is only here every other year, and it’s far too expensive for a lot of the dealers to attend.” he said. This eventually led to a group of us getting together to explore the idea of putting on a book fair that would be accessible for booksellers and dealers who might not be members of the ABAA. Sol Grossman, Keith Burns, Jack Garvin and I ended up founding the California Book Fair Associates.
Since Jack was knowledgeable about various shows, we leaned on him for guidance. Without Jack, there probably would not have been a book fair. He had been to many shows, including regional fairs and also the big gem and mineral shows in Pasadena and Tucson, and had the basic knowledge of what had to be done to put on a show. We spent months having meetings at Sol Grossman’s warehouse/office in North Hollywood, refining our ideas and working out details.
Our first show was at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, and was a great success. We eventually put on 2 shows a year in the L.A. Area, plus shows in San Diego, Monterey, Ventura, San Francisco, and Santa Monica.
We met almost every week and paid attention to detail. We took over the monthly book fair in San Diego at the Masonic Temple on Adams Avenue in order to keep a presence in the area for the once a year big show there.
If I can find all my notebooks on the subject, I may write an article that would provide some guidance on how to put on a show, and how much effort goes into it. The book fairs today do not have the pull or attraction of the shows we put on. How to generate excitement and entertainment is an important element in any show. Just telling people to come on over to a hotel and buy some old books from some seedy looking used book dealers does not attract much attention. I would also add in the new platforms of social media that are available to entrepreneurs to publicize the show, tools that we didn’t have back in the 1980s and 1990s. Back then we were stuck with having to put advertising in papers like the L.A. Times, which would gouge you on price and rarely give out any free publicity.
Eventually, the book fair meetings were moved to Ventura, when Sol Grossman and Keith Burns moved up there. But before the move, when the weekly meetings were at Sol’s warehouse in North Hollywood, Jack and Sol got into a big beef, ending with Jack leaving the book fair committee and being bought out by the fair.
How this came about was somewhat strange. We would break for lunch at our meetings and walk over to a nearby all-you-can eat smorgy. During the lunch chatter, Jack and Sol would start talking about old times and some deals that they had together. Jack would always find a way to tell Sol how he had gotten the best of him, or made a lot of money off him in these deals. Sol would get furious at the thought that not only had Jack made money on these old deals, but here he is 20 years later bragging about. To make matters worse, when Jack would be spinning these tales, he would laugh and chortle about it. For Jack, it was a chance to get a little one-up on Sol, who was usually viewed at the most successful business guy. He didn’t realize how pissed off Sol would get, his anger about it would lead to harsh words, disrupt the meetings, and give everyone except Jack a knot in their stomach, two knots for Sol.
The war between Sol and Jack got worse by the week, especially on Sol’s end. He no longer would go to lunch with Jack because he didn’t want to hear about how Jack had made money on his past deals. He wanted Jack out of the book fair or he would close down the whole fair. Jack finally realized that the situation was serious, and got a lawyer. Then Sol got a lawyer. On the verge of a self-destructive lawsuit, Keith and I stepped in and deescalated the situation and forced a fair settlement for Jack. He was off the show committee, but still kept his booth, a solution that seemed to work.
The stress from Sol and the Book Fair mess was bad enough, but things got worse. Jack returned from his annual trip to the Tucson Gem and Mineral show and found that his wife had changed the locks on the door to his house. He banged on the door to let him in, the response was that she called the police. They showed up and after hearing both sides of the story, told Jack to get a motel for the night and get a lawyer in the morning.
Jack’s wife was always a sweet woman, and seemed very religious, unlike her husband, who was ambivalent about the subject. I remember Jack telling me once that his wife was related in some way to John Murrell, the infamous land pirate and murderous outlaw of the Natchez Trace. “She’s one of the Murrells, I have to be careful not to ever cross her.” he said. Something, however, had gone wrong with wifey. She had snapped, her personality took a 180 turn. No longer the sweet religious lady, the next time I saw her she was swearing like a sailor. I have no idea what brought this on.
Jack, banned from his own house, had suffered some kind of miner stroke from the stress. When he got out of the hospital he was having trouble with numbers, telling me what a good deal it was to stay at the Holiday Inn in Burbank. I knew that $125. a night was not a good deal for Jack. Someone contacted Jack’s sister, who lived in Orange County, and she took him in. He was devastated about the situation with his wife and decided to get rid of the shop. Joel Malter came in and auctioned off all the books, gems, minerals and shelving, clearing everything out.
Jack’s wife was taken back to Oklahoma by relatives. Jack had a heart attack and was sent back to the Hospital, where he was hooked up on life support. A bookseller friend of Jack’s, Lin Currey from Orange County, came up and surveyed the situation. He found out that Jack’s house was only about 3 payments away from paying off the mortgage completely, but that the wife had not made any payments in months and the place was headed for foreclosure. He arranged to sell off all the furniture, clothing, books, gems, everything he could find in the house, and paid off the mortgage completely, leaving clear title for the wife’s relatives to sell it and get enough money to care for her.
Lin Curry called me over to Jack’s garage to haul off some old debris to my dumpster. He told me the doctors said Jack had only a few more days to live. Just as I was driving off, he threw a duffle bag into the back of my van. “It’s Jack’s underwear, you can use them for rags to clean books” he said.
A couple weeks later, I ran into a lady who worked at the local mortuary. She knew Jack. I lamented his passing. “Oh no,” she said. “They took him OFF life support and he got a lot better, HE’S STILL ALIVE.”
I found out where he was and visited him in the hospital. He was in bad shape.
“What’s up kid?”
“Well, Jack, there’s good news and bad news.”
“Yeah, Lin Currey saved your house, but he had to sell off everything to do it, the furniture, all your books, your gems and minerals, even your clothes. We thought you were dead. They took your wife back to Oklahoma.”
“Christ, kid, with all that, what could possibly be the good news?”
“I have a duffle bag in the back of my van with all your underwear in it, so you can make a fresh start”
Jack grunted. We chatted a little longer, but he tired out and I left.
He died a few days later.
Postscript. At my urging, Janet Jarvits had purchased all of Jack’s really nice shelving and rented the store from the landlord. She opened up her cook book and culinary store at that location and was there for years until the Burbank City Redevelopment destroyed the old mall and the building fell into the hands of real estate sharks, jacking the rent so high she had to move out.
Today, there is no trace of any of the bookstores that used to line the Golden Mall, with the exception of a movie memorabilia shop. Rest in Peace Jack Garvin, Garvin’s Book and Rock Shop, now only a whisper in the wind here at Bookstore Memories.
Bookshops on the old Golden Mall:
Burbank Book City
Burbank Book Castle
Garvin’s Book and Rock Shop (later Janet Jarvits Cook Books)
Burbank Book Shop (new books)
Crown Books (Remember them?)
Best Seller Book Shop
Atlantis Book Shop
Movie World (Movie Memorabilia)
plus a few $1 book blowout shops over the years.
plus Tom Lesser’s Paperback Collectors Show at the Golden Mall Pavillion.