by Linda Thorne
I posted this on Buried Under Books a few years ago. I thought I'd bring it out again with minor changes since it's been a while and I have new followers today and a larger friend group on social media. This is a post about a little bookstore that changed my life for the better. Here it is:
I had always lived in the western part of the United States, Arizona, California, Colorado, until 1994. My husband was unemployed and my job at the time, a nightmare. He found a career opportunity on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we made the move.
Looking back on all that happened in that beautiful part of the South, I see the entire eight years we lived there as a major life changing event for us both. We could afford to live within a mile of the Mississippi Sound in a little town called Ocean Springs. Almost daily, we drove over the Ocean Springs Bridge into the neighboring city of Biloxi, always awed by the panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico. The road turned into Beach Boulevard and ran along a 26-mile manmade beach with more views of the water. This seemed more like a place for people to travel to for vacations or pay to see, but for us, it was our home.
I worked in Gulfport and most of my purchases came from stores there, either on my lunch break or on the way home from work. I didn’t buy a lot in Ocean Springs, but one day I passed a colorful little bookstore in a small Victorian cottage and turned around to go back for a look. I remember walking in the first time in 1999 and finding myself astonished by how many books they had available, crammed together and piled on top of each other. Every crevice filled.
There were the old greats by folks like Silas Marner, books by Ayn Rand, but they had local authors too. Martin Hegwood had signed copies of Big Easy Backroad and The Green-Eyed Hurricane. I bought both and still have them. I bought Carolyn Haines’ book Touched and the first in her Bones series, Them Bones. Maybe the second. On my first trip to Favorites, I spent $175.00 on books.
I made other trips. I loved perusing the stacks, seeing the title on the book spine and feeling the book headband as I pulled it out to see the cover, read the blurb on the inside flap or the book back. So much nicer than book shopping online. The same two women normally worked the counter and they’d tell me fascinating stories about the authors and their books. I spent more money and remember my husband asking at one point if I’d consider curtailing the expense. I wish my expenditures could’ve kept Favorites afloat, but alas, it closed its doors. My husband and I saw the report on WLOX TV news with anchor, Jeff Lawson, sadly referring to Favorites as the little bookstore that was closing its doors.
Maybe I had a book bubbling inside of me before the move to Mississippi. I don’t know. I do give my surroundings, along with the books I bought and read from Favorites Bookstore, a great deal of credit for my initiation into the world of writing. We had to leave Mississippi in 2002 when my husband’s job went away and he found another one in California.
I wrote the first draft of Just Another Termination not long before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and after it did, I left the book’s setting in pre-Katrina time. When both of our jobs ended in California in 2007, my husband’s due to an end to a contract and mine because of a plant closure, we chose to live in the greater Nashville area.
Why didn’t we move back to the beautiful place we hadn’t wanted to leave? The answer is simple. We wanted the Mississippi Gulf Coast back the way it was before Hurricane Katrina and that was not to be. Casinos no longer had to on the water (on barges) and we feared the area would become a clone of Atlantic City. The structures we’d come to know and love were gone, being rebuilt with a different look. But we were sold on the South and knew that's where our final stop would have to be. We picked the greater Nashville area and have never regretted the decision.