Those of you who have read Little Bookstore know about the trip Jack and I made in 2011, visiting indie bookstores and small towns. One of these was a little place along I-64, not named in the book because every bookstore we tried to visit there turned out to be a porn shop.
Fulton Avenue Books was the only shop I mentioned by name in Little Bookstore. I had no idea at the time how (in)famous it was. About every three days, someone finds my blog through a search on “Fulton Ave Books,” or “Fulton Books Evansville,” or even “porn shops little redhead Wendy Indiana.”
(I have no idea, and I’m not about to Google to find out.)
But soon after my book came out, a nice e-mail arrived from a lady named Betsy, saying, “I know where you were: Evansville, Indiana. I live there, and it’s not ALL bad! There’s a really nice Middle Eastern restaurant just one town over, and pleasant shops. We’re not just porn bookstores!”
I told Betsy it was a fair cop; yes, it was Evansville, and we’d actually tried FOUR stores, not just the two mentioned in my book, and she shot back an invitation that, next time we were out that way, she would buy us dinner at a great place in a cute part of town.
So when Jack and I realized that our trip to MariaJoseph Books near St. Louis would take us past the infamous Evansville, we let Betsy know.
“Saturday night dinner on us,” she responded. “We’ll show you the good stuff!”
Well, she and her husband Freeman and daughter Sarah showed us Newburgh, which is a little town right next to Evansville, full of quaint shops and cool bistros. And we had a lovely meal of goat cheese and curry and baklava–oh bliss. But we teased her that she’d had to come to the next town over for redemption–whereupon she hauled out a little gift bag and gave us chocolates (mmm, pecans) and lavender soap as well, both made in Evansville.
We had a grand time discussing Sarah’s teen sweet stash exchange with an online pal from Sweden (salted licorice not a hit with Sarah stateside; peanut butter spat out in horror in Sweden) and talking about the chances of survival for printed books and media. (We think they have better chances than peanut butter does in Sweden).
Would that all small towns in America had such staunch defenders as Betsy is to Evansville! Evansville, thou art redeemed–and scented pleasantly with lavender.