Since Christmas comes but once a day at Reed Books/The Museum of Fond Memories, it’s difficult for me to differentiate between the holiday season and every other season here in Mr. Reed’s Neighborhood.

Each day, something special enters my shop and begs for adoption. For instance, I just acquired a WWII bomber flight manual and a Darth Vader life-size standup.

I just sold a copy of Gary Larson’s favorite book, Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat, and a Popeye coloring book.

I just placed on display the original Roumanian movie poster for To Kill a Mockingbird, plus a photograph of Marilyn Monroe in a pink bathing suit.

Next to my elbow is an original paperback edition of Catcher in the Rye, next to an LP recording of Fess Parker as Davy Crockett.

I could go on. In any five-foot radius within the shop, you’ll find overlapping time zones, modern and ancient icons, heavy tomes and hilarious spoofs, dead-serious diatribes and light-hearted commentaries on the world.

They all exist side-by-side, spanning a 500-year period, ready to entertain, enthrall, excite and amuse.

If you would like to visit the Center of the Universe, if you are brave enough to experience an environment free of mass-marketing and cookie-cutter merchandise, if you like to own one-of-a-kind treasures, then take a chance.

Enter Here

(c) Jim Reed 2010 A.D.



Here’s is a story I publish every Thanksgiving, just

to remind myself and you that everything that really

matters is right before us, all the time. Here ‘tis:



The saddest thing I ever saw: a small, elderly woman dining alone at Morrison’s Cafeteria, on Thanksgiving Day.

Oh there are many other sadnesses you can find if you look hard enough, in this variegated world of ours, but a diner alone on Thanksgiving Day makes you feel really fortunate, guilty, smug, relieved, tearful, grateful…it brings you up short and makes you time-travel to the pockets of joy and cheer you experienced in earlier days.

Crepe paper. Lots of crepe paper. And construction paper. Bunches of different-colored construction paper. In my childhood home in Tuscaloosa, my Thanksgiving Mother always made sure we creative and restless kids had all the cardboard, scratch paper, partly-used tablets, corrugated surfaces, unused napkins, backs of cancelled checks, rough brown paper from disassembled grocery bags, backs of advertising letters and flyers…anything at all that we could use to make things. Yes, dear 21st-Century young’uns, we kids back then made things from scraps.

We could cut up all we wanted, and cut up we did.

We cut out rough rectangular sheets from stiff black wrapping paper and glued the edges together to make Pilgrim hats. Old belt buckles were tied to our shoelaces—we never could get it straight, whether the Pilgrims were Quakers, or vice versa, or neither. But it always seemed important to put buckles on our shoes and sandals, wear tubular hats and funny white paper collars, and craft weird-looking guns that flared out like trombones at one end. More fun than being a Pilgrim/Quaker was being an Indian—a true blue Native American, replete with bare chest, feathers shed by neighborhood doves, bows made of crooked twigs and kite string, arrows dulled at the tip by rubber stoppers and corks, and loads of Mother’s discarded rouge and powder and lipstick and mashed cranberries smeared here and there on face and body, to make us feel like the Indians we momentarily were.

Sister Barbara and Mother would find some long autumnal-hued dresses for the occasion, but they were seldom seen outside the kitchen for hours on end, while the eight-course dinner was under construction.

There was always an accordion-fold crepe paper turkey centerpiece on display, hastily bought on sale at S.H. Kress, just after last year’s Thanksgiving season. It looked nothing like my Aunt Mattie’s turkeys in her West Blocton front yard. And for some reason, we ate cranberry products on that day and that day only. Nobody ever thought about cranberries the other 364 days! And those lucky turkeys were lucky because nobody ever thought of eating them except at Thanksgiving and Christmas. They were home free the rest of the year!

Now, back into the time machine of just a few years ago.

It is Thanksgiving Day. My wife and son and granddaughter are all out of the country. Other family and relatives are either dead or gone, or just plain tied up with their own lives in other states, doing things other than having Thanksgiving Dinner with me.

My brother, Tim, my friends Tim Baer and Don Henderson and I decide that we will have to spend Thanksgiving Dinner together, since each of us is bereft of wife or playmate or relative, this particular holiday this particular year.

So, we wind up at Morrison’s Cafeteria, eating alone together, going through the line and picking out steamed-particle-board turkey, canned cranberries, thin gravy, boxed mashed potatoes and some bakery goods whose source cannot easily be determined.

But we laugh at our situation and each other, tell jokes, cut up a bit, and thank our lucky stars that this one Thanksgiving Dinner is surely just a fluke. We’ll be trying that much harder, next year, to not get blind-sided by the best holiday of the year, Thanksgiving being the only holiday you don’t have to give gifts or reciprocate gifts or strain to find the correct gifts.

On Thanksgiving holidays ever since, I make sure I’m with family and friends, and now and then I try to set a place at the table of my mind, for any little old lady or lone friend who might want to join us, for the second saddest thing I’ve ever seen is a happy family lustily enjoying a Thanksgiving feast together and forgetting for a moment about all those lone diners in all the cafeterias of the world who could use a glance and a smile

© 2010 A.D. by Jim Reed




On Hallowed Ground During Hallowed Times

We're sitting here, slap in the middle of the time between Veterans Day 
and Thanksgiving Day. This period always reminds me of the time
Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers to you) said, "The older I get, the more 
convinced I am that the space between people who are trying 
their best to understand each other is hallowed ground.”
So, I guess we’re resting on hallowed ground during a hallowed 
In case you missed Veterans Day, I may as well put in my less-
than-two-cents worth of opinion.
To me, Veterans Day is a day to remember that countless men and 
women throughout the world have lost their lives, their limbs, their 
minds, in defense of something ethereal and ever-changing. 
Something called peace. The people—the soldiers and freedom 
fighters—often lost everything of value in their lives, just because 
they wanted to keep what is precious, knowing that, should they 
themselves be exterminated, their efforts just might have been 
worth it to somebody else coming along, somebody else who is out 
of harm’s way because of them.
There are all sorts of soldiers and freedom fighters: some wind up 
being martyred, some wind up limping home to hold self and 
family together, some simply disappear. 
Is it worth it, this relentless chase for freedom and peace, when we 
know full well that each peacetime is temporary, each quiet 
moment of love and understanding could vanish in the next 
There are two kinds of people in the world—those who look for 
trouble and conflict, and those who try to avoid or undo trouble 
and conflict. We’ll be watching both kinds of people in the news 
between now and Thanksgiving—people who will fight just to 
win, and people who will fight in hopes of bringing joy and 
understanding to the world. Watch closely those factions in the 
Middle East, in Myanmar, in Washington D.C., in Afghanistan, in 
the nervous streets and alleys of your own neighborhood.
Fred Rogers said something else that I often think about: 

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my

mother would always say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will

always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in

times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am

always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—

so many caring people in this world.”


Don’t despair, my children—no matter how much the news of the


times seems destructive and hopeless, look out for the


helpers…and do a little helping yourself.



Even if the meek won’t inherit the earth, we can at least contest the


© 2010 A.D. by Jim Reed




Some days, the gentle addiction drives me. Seldom do I drive It.

     But today, Sunday, is too beautiful a day to merely go to the

supermarket and purchase vittles. The day would be just a little

more perfect should I happen to pass by a flea market on the way

to the store, and look for something old and resonant and nostalgic

and comforting.

This gentle addiction has driven me for six decades or more.

Taking a wide turn and ending up at the former Fair Park monthly

flea market, I stick my toe into the old moldy atmosphere, attempting

to ignore the nearby ghastly brick and glass structure that is replacing

the park’s raceway/state fair stands, imagining that, in a couple of

decades, the new building will be as run-down and unkempt as the

previous one. The City has a way of building brand-new well-financed

venues, then ignoring them for years.

I suppose the reason that the monthly flea market survives is that it is

being ignored, too. Worst thing you could do would be to race around

tidying up the place, putting in a/c and heat, painting it, lighting it, cleaning

the restrooms for a change. If that happened, the market would have all the

charm of a K-Mart, and I would have to drive further afield to find

something authentic-feeling.

But today, I am lucky. The flea market is open for business, a few old-time

dealers still lug their wares inside, an occasional entrepreneur attempts to

hustle you with new things you could get cheaper at Dollar Tree, and here

and there, if you look real hard and know what you’re looking for, you can

spot a treasure.

Here’s the LP/tomato man who always tries to sell old recordings, comic

books, paper ephemera, printer paper, toys, movies, and—tomatoes. I buy

the last of his tomatoes, then spot a few books he’s got on display and is

about to re-box for the long trip home. Hmm…this has a “buzz” to it, the

look of a book published before acidic, self-destructing paper was

mass-marketed. I weigh it in my hands, its dark embossed cover looking

a little weary. The book falls open to the all-important title page, and here’s





under act of Congress of September 16, 1857, in Washington, D.C.

645 pages not counting index, pages filled with charts and graphs and

data that somebody could just not live without, back then. A nice little

item to trigger your imagination, pop you into your time machine, and

make you wonder about the printing process, the computerless hours

of research and massaging of information, the typesetting done the

hard way—by hand, and backwards! Proofreading was still in vogue

back then, so you find few mistakes within.

Well, at least this is a real book, assembled by author and editor and

proofreader and printer, and distributed to those few people who could

understand such things. The book has its own fragrance, its own ambience,

its own story, a story recorded 150-plus years ago and alive today in my

very own hands!

I told you it is a gentle addiction, didn’t I?

The book will enter the store tomorrow and join its bookish family on

my shelves, waiting for the astute collector to discover it among all the

other solitudes in my little universe

           © 2010 A.D. by Jim Reed