Memories of My Bookshop

Memories of My Bookshop
by Consuelo Abaunza Faust

My mother Mary Kellogg Faust (now Mary Kellogg) and her sister Rhoda Kellogg Norman started Maple Street Bookshop in 1964. I’m pretty sure it was an act of spontaneity for them, at least it was a huge surprise to me when Mama came home one evening and told me she had bought a bookshop. (Actually they had leased the building at that point — with bookshop intentions.) I was 11 at the time and I remember jumping around the house and running everywhere telling everyone in the neighborhood. I couldn’t contain my excitement at the idea of having a real store! And I did always see it as my store. Over the next few years my mother would sometimes let me sit behind the desk and take the money, figure out the change and write down the name of the book and author in a notebook that was kept on the desk. Those were pre-cash-register days at the Bookshop.

I really felt like royalty. I would bring all of my friends to the Bookshop after school — from Allen School and then from McMain Jr. High. Mama would hand us money to go get hamburgers and snowballs at Miss Amy’s down the street — to get rid of us no doubt, but we would happily stuff ourselves and come back to the Bookshop for more entertainment. I remember having no patience at all for customers. The idea that I couldn’t say something to my mother exactly when I wanted to was frustrating — so basically I interrupted those exchanges she’d be having every chance I got. I’m not sure I ever really got over the habit of thinking that the customers were less important than me communicating with my mother.

I had always been a reader. My mother read to me all the time until I started reading my own books. Later she coined the word “bibliotherapy” — at least I think it was she who invented the word… at any rate that’s what it always was for me, a need to read, along with a desire — but more of an emotional need.

One of my early memories is of lying on the couch at our home on Joseph St. as my mother read Charlotte’s Web to me one hot afternoon. I’m not sure where my sister and brothers were but it seemed that we were in the house alone. As we came to the end when Charlotte dies, I was sobbing and making involuntary choking noises. As I looked over at my mother she lay there with tears streaming down her face. She kind of smiled at me. I had never seen her cry before. And her smile and maybe her tears made me laugh. Then she laughed. Then we cried harder than ever and again we laughed at ourselves.

One of the great privileges of owning a bookshop as I did, was being able to take whatever books I wanted home with me and there was always a huge stack at the end of the day as my mother and I packed up to go home. Many of the books I chose at age 12 or 13 were books I heard my mother and her friends from the Tulane English Department discussing. I remember Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols was one. Also John Lennon’s A Spaniard in the Works, as well as The Annotated Alice and something by Freud. Also periodicals: Ramparts and The Evergreen Review. I would read little things from these books and magazines and sometimes even begin a book and make myself read more than a few pages. But mainly they looked good on my bookshelf.

I knew that after a few days or a week my mom would gather them up and bring them back to the shop – but it didn’t matter because I could always bring home more.