Saturday, June 30, 2012

For Bookworms Only: Walk A Crooked Mile Books

Walk A Crooked Mile Books: For Bookworms Only!
 It's not that I don't have enough books stacked up in various rooms in my house to keep me reading for decades. I do. It's not that I'm such a big fan of architect Frank Furness that I had to go visit the Mt. Airy Train Station that he designed. I'm not, but I was curious. I was also curious about Walk A Crooked Mile Books, an independent used bookstore in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, over there by Chestnut Hill. How lovely this is for the people of Mt. Airy to be able to walk to such a wonderland of books, and the people using the train station to browse while they are waiting or pick up a little something literary on the way home.

From the street side: the Mt. Airy Train Station
 The shop was not so easy to find, mainly because the free online cartographer I used had the audacity to rename one of the local streets. Riding around Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy looking for my street was no unpleasant task. There are beautiful homes there, made of stone and featuring turrets and other architectural delights.I can imagine me as the Grand Dame of any of them. But I finally found the street that connected to the street that terminated at Devon Street where Walk A Crooked Mile Books is.

Books outside and in-

This shop is made up of room after room of used books. They are organized according to genre, and more-or-less alphabetized. Co-manager Cynthia (I didn't see Greg) gave me a run-down of where stuff is, and I was off to browse. Mind you, this place is not air-conditioned and this was one of those 95+ degree days. Even the littlest room had a fan, though, and my treasure hunt was not unpleasantly warmish. The humming of those fans supplied some white noise that helped me focus on the books. It's a summery sound. I focused my time on History, Art, Literature, Reference, and Nature. I emerged eventually with a stack of other books by some of my favorite non-fiction authors: Bruce Chatwin, Rachel Carson, John McPhee; and some new voices: Annie Dillard and Edith Hamilton. My splurge for the day was a book on the history and artisty of Faberge eggs. If it rains everyday for the next three weeks, I am set with really good reading for my vacation. If it doesn't rain and I go to the beach everyday, I am also set with really good beach reading (I had already filled a bag with fiction for that purpose.)

Cape May's Emlen Physick Estate
I mentioned architect Frank Furness designed the train station. He was active in Philadelphia in the Victorian Age and favored the Stick Style rather than the flowery gingerbread style we usually picture. He also designed the Emlen Physick Estate in Cape May, that delightful 1879 mansion I have mentioned before on my blog. The 1882 Mt. Airy Train Station looks like the Physick Estate's kid sister on the outside. Inside every tiny room is stacked to the ceiling with books, and there is a tricky, narrow, curved staircase that leads to what used to be the station manager's apartment. More books! Outside the station on the street side are: more books! Outside the station on the track side are: people waiting for a train. I'm a little jealous, really, with my 35-minute automobile commute to work.

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