What year was that American Booksellers Convention? Was it in D.C. when I was invited to an intimate concert with “Sweet Honey in the Rock?” My memory may be spotty but I can picture around 100 of us. I brought my friend, children’s author/illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien. We couldn’t help ourselves, and jumped up whooping and clapping after every heart-grabbing song.
Back in the day of American Booksellers conventions in LA or NYC, when publishers wined and dined independent booksellers large and small, I made the party scene. I was invited to fancy dinners at elegant restaurants because I was part of the in-group of national children’s booksellers. Probably because I spoke up (blurted?): “This is what we should do…blah blah blah.” I was young, or at least younger.
These days, I think of my 15 years owning Oz Books as my life’s work. A challenge that I took on myself, and succeeded. It all came back to me this morning at Gus Balon’s, when our server talked about families coming into the restaurant with their babies, watching them grow into adolescence as they nibbled scrambled eggs, French toast and humungous cinnamon rolls.
My current Southwest Harbor winter renter remembers Oz Books, which lasted — and changed the world for many kids — from 1982 to 1997. Now those grown-up kids may read iPads, Kindles or real books, but they got their start loving words and ideas by coming to OZ. Many of their parents and grown-up kids have told me so.
Occupy Wall Street protesters will remember this experience for the rest of their lives. I would be there in a second if I didn’t live thousands of miles away. I wouldn’t sleep in a tent, or hang out in the park when it gets cold. Been there, done that. But if the protesters are still there at Thanksgiving time, I’ll visit. I commend those who are now taking a stand, young and old, speaking up for 99 percent of us. Somebody has to.
“We who believe in freedom cannot rest.”