Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"Steinbeck or Baseball?"

As J.G. mentioned in a recent post, our favorite used bookstore -- Serendipity Books in Berkeley, Calif., -- might not be around much longer. The owner is in poor health and looking to sell. Fortunately, my business travels took me to San Francisco last week and I worked in a trip to Serendipity, where I meandered for hours with my list, grabbing whatever I could to fill in my collection.

After awhile, I was looking over the shelves near the front of the store when my ears registered the weak voice that called out, "Steinbeck or baseball?"

I was looking at the baseball section of books that neighbor, for whatever reason, the proprietor's rather impressive collection of John Steinbeck works.

"Steinbeck or baseball?"

The voice again. Same question. Brain begins to register.

"Are you talking to me?" I call out.

"Yes. Steinbeck or baseball?"

"Both. I like both."

It was Peter, the owner himself. He happened to walk in and spotted me checking out his Steinbeck/baseball section.

It was great to see Peter and talk to him. He detailed his medical prognosis, but the conversation turned ultimately to books. When my time was up, I told Peter to hang in there, that I'd be back to see him next summer, next season.

Peter said, matter of factly, that he'd be gone by then.

I walked out of Serendipity with an armful of books and a tear in my eye.


  1. Rough all over. Sad to hear about him going, sad to hear about his store going. Sad no one else has bought it.

    Glad you got some good books anyway.


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