Tag Archives: redemption

The Redemption of Evansville

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.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing

So Un-Necessary

Right after Jack became an American citizen, we bought a pick-up truck. It was the natural next step.

Plus, we’d made several trips to haul books from assorted locations, buy lumber for Jack to build new shelves. I’d spotted a couple of really great chairs at a yard sale but had no way to get them home, etc. A pick-up truck, we reasoned, was Necessary.

So when I spotted a cool blue Chevy on the intranet at my college, Jack called the person selling it, and a deal was struck. But the truck showed up with an AS IS sticker on the window.

Turns out, the person selling it was not the owner, but a dealer … with a certain reputation.

You have heard the phrase “He’d steal the dimes from a dead man’s eyes?” Yes, such behavior may be Un-Just, even Un-Necessary, but it is not unknown–unfortunately.

We bought the blue lemon, drove it five miles, and had to have it towed to a repair shop. The Auto Repair Order says they installed: 1 engine, 6 spark plugs, 1 thermostat, 1 water pump, 1 throttle cable, 1 tranny cable, 1 tranny front pump seal, 2 motor mounts, 1 oil filter adapter gasket, 1 air filter, 1 alternator, 1 temperature sensor, 1 battery.

In short, we got took. Un-Just-in so many ways, and Un-Necessary, yes, but not illegal, because the man not representing the dealership who sold it to us said “as is” and shook hands with Jack.

Do you know something? I would a thousand times rather be married to a man like Jack, who gets taken because he believes someone who shakes on a deal would not deliberately be trying to get as much money for as little as possible, than be married to a man who would commit such an act and then go whistling home to his bed. And I would give ten times what we paid to repair that blue lemon to know that such men would not legally be able to do such things to someone who truly can’t afford it.

Since we can’t have that guarantee, we did the next best thing: invited a handful of friends over for a Blessing of the Truck ceremony. Each friend, representing a different religious tradition, said a prayer and sprinkled the truck bed with water. (We had watering cans for the Presbyterians and buckets for the Baptists, so as to be properly ecumenical.) With much hilarity, we dedicated our little blue lemon (now named Blue Bubba) to the glory of God and the good of humanity, and for communal borrowing among friends, erasing its past as the pawn of people more interested in money and screwing others than good workmanship and happy living.

And we had a lot of fun splashing each other, too.

If you want to see the rest of the Blessing of the Truck pictures, they are on



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