Ramona Keeps Borders Spirit Alive

IMG-20110312-00003Call me sentimental, but each time a store I love closes in Columbus, OH, I hold on to some memento of its happier times. With Lazarus, it was a polka dot nightgown. With Big Bear, a glass measuring cup stamped with the signature red bear.

Until last night, the best of my store closing collection was the bright blue wool suit purchased during Jacobson’s shutdown in 2003. The shoulder pads are a little big, but I can’t part with this flawlessly sewn beauty or the memory of the clerk who insisted, just days away from unemployment, that she wrap it in white tissue before she entrusted it to me.

Last night, though, the blue suit was pre-empted when I finally ventured into the venerable Borders store on Kenny Road. Now wrapped in a yellow-and-black Store Closing banner as glaring as crime scene tape, Borders was not a place I wanted to scavenge. I love bookstores with library presence – the ones with nooks for reading, an occasional chair, a quiet feel as soft as the furred edges of an old book. Borders on Kenny was such a place. I did not want it to close.

Looking around at the emptying shelves, I searched for a memento to capture the ambience of the place. Certainly not a business book. Too ironic. And the still robust cookbook collection said little about Borders. And then I saw it: a “special read-aloud version” of Beverly Cleary’s s Ramona The Brave. It was not your usual paperback Ramona. It was a large hardback with a dust cover – complete with large print, off-white ages and hand-drawn illustrations of Ramona, her sister Beezus, and the entire Quimby family.

My granddaughter is only 20 months – way too young to appreciate the adventures of Ramona. But I can tell already that she will be drawn in by her imagination and sensitivity. So I walked out of Borders with Ramona in the white plastic sack. When Taylor is ready, I will be, too – for long afternoon reads and gasps and giggles from a book made of paper. And when we drive by the corner where Borders once stood – whether it has become a bank or a food store or a parking lot – I’ll say, “Once upon a time there was a wonderful bookstore there, and that’s where your Ramona came from.”

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