Scrubbies

Our bookshop is closed on Mondays, but sometimes it’s our busiest day. It’s part of the small town ethos; you’re not really closed unless the door’s locked and your car is gone. Two Mondays ago, as I sat at the table doing some pricing and sorting, the door opened and two older women walked in.

“Help you?” I smiled.

The two women were embarrassed that they’d barged in, but they were talkative. Staying with relatives in nearby Kingsport as they did every year, they’d made their usual detour to the Tolliver House, the gift shop attached to the outdoor drama. Big Stone Gap’s famous son John Fox Jr. wrote Trail of the Lonesome Pine more than 100 years ago now, and the folk opera created from this novel is still running strong in his native town.

Not so the volunteer pool to continue keeping the gift shop (featuring local crafts and authors) open seven days a week, I explained to the disappointed women. Feeling guilty that Big Stone pretty much rolls up the sidewalks on Mondays, I invited them to go ahead and browse our place. They did, but over and over again, the older lady returned to her disappointment at not getting new scrubbies. Apparently a high point of her annual pilgrimage to Big Stone was getting to buy new crocheted round discs, made from old nylons, that were “perfect” for cleaning the bottoms of pots. She lamented the scrubbies sore as she and her daughter cruised the shop, ultimately buying several Christian romances.

A couple of days after these women came through, in one of those cute coincidences of life, a friend who likes to crochet brought me a dozen scrubbies to sell in the bookstore. I laughed and told her about women visiting from Texas. “I think I’ll mail them some,” I said. “She paid with a check, so I have her address.”

My friend looked skeptical. “You think they’d pay after they got them?”

“‘Course they would!” I said, defensive of my tribe. “Book people are honest!”

“OK, OK,” my scrubby-making friend replied, hands up. “Send ’em.”

Off the scrubbies went, with a wee note explaining that if she didn’t want them, she could mail them back, and if she did want them, please remit $3 each plus whatever the postage was.

Ten days passed and nary a word. My friend, who enjoys teasing me, asked every day, “Hear from scrubby lady yet?”

I remained outwardly confident, but inside, began to wonder. Even people with good intentions don’t always keep up with them in this day and age….

The check came yesterday, folded inside a handwritten note on pretty stationary, thanking me for taking the trouble and having the trust to do such a thing. The check covered three scrubbies and the exact postage.

See? The world is full of good, decent people. And most of them frequent bookshops.

This is a scrubbie. If you want to make your own, crochet pattern central has lots of suggestions. http://www.crochetpatterncentral.com/directory/scrubbers.php
And if you want to buy any of my friend Anne’s, I will mail them to you! (She’s raising money for her grandson’s birthday party; it’s a good cause.)

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6 Comments

Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, VA

6 responses to “Scrubbies

  1. I learned something from this posting. Not that book people are decent and honest….but what a scrubbie is.

  2. Tamra Igo

    A sutler at a Civil War reenactment insisted once I take the video I wanted, enclosing a business card in the flap & telling me to mail him a check. Civil War people, he declared, are honest.

  3. I knew this story would have a warm, fuzzy ending!

  4. There are still good people out there. And I’m totally intrigued by the scrubbie.

  5. Rita Berma

    I own and operate a bookstore in Philadelphia. I’d like so much to be in a small town, even if only a couple of months. I too, have my pets in the shop and an old comfy chair, even though my bookstore isn’t typical. . I hope you find someone who will take good care of what you have there. If you don’t find the right person, maybe I am that person. Let me know. wishing you well.
    Rita

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