Sunday, August 06, 2006

Let the tour begin ...

You've stepped inside the front door and shut it behind you. You're looking to your left. We packed the folding bookcase into the UHaul and brought it almost 3000 miles, from Byram to Portland. That tall green glass bottle used to sit in Mama and Daddy's living room on Beatrice Drive in south Jackson; it's right at 40 years old. Our friends Cindy and Eddie gave us the angel standing beside it, as a going-away gift. Over the years, Mama or I either collected or got as gifts the rest of the items on the bookcase. Seven of my Jackson photos surround two original pieces on the wall above the bookcase. Tony DiFatta's Walkers' sign hangs in the center, with an original of the Fondren Corner Building below it. I absolutely love buying original art at a fund-raiser or silent auction. I end up with something I love and I help out a good cause. That's how I got both of these originals.

There's an interesting story about the bell on the bottom shelf. A few weeks ago, by accident we discovered an estate sale a couple of blocks north of us. Not being one to resist such an event, I just had to go in, look, buy a bit, and take in the myriad styles of bells--they were all over the place. I got a tiny one engraved with HELLO. When I was walking on Sunday, I found the estate sale open again, so I went in to check out a few bells I'd noticed the day before. I had completely missed the rather large bell, but I bent over to pick it up and read the yellowed paper taped to it: "Historical Information (supposedly from) BAY QUEEN (circa 1915) Mobile -Fairhope," then inside there's a tiny piece of paper with "558" on it.

When I read the first piece a paper, chill bumps ran all over me. Sonny Brewer, editor of all of the Blue Moon Cafe books and author of "The Poet of Tolstoy Park" as well as his new one, "A Sound LIke Thunder," is from Fairhope. That's where his Over the Transom bookstore is, too. Both of his books have quite a bit to do with Mobile Bay, boats and even the ferries that plied the waters. I really wanted to own that bell, and when I discovered that everything was half price, that sealed the deal. I looked on the Internet and found an old photograph of the Bay Queen; a bell is visible, but I cannot tell if it's this bell or one like it. One of these days, I'm going to discuss it with Sonny himself.

If I were still in Jackson, I'd discuss it with him on Aug. 18 or 19 because he'll be a Lemuria for the latest Blue Moon Cafe book, and on Aug. 18, he'll be there with his new novel. If you're so inclined, grab a copy of the Jackson Free Press on Aug. 16 or 17 so you can catch my reviews of both.

There's another Alabama connection to the JFP that comes out on Aug. 9, 10, too. More book reviews from little ole me. Jennifer Paddock and her husband Sidney Thompson have new books. They're friends of Sonny's, have work that's appeared in previous Blue Moon Cafe books, and live in Point Clear, Ala., a ways south of Fairhope.

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