Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I FORWARDED to you a letter from the current owner of the bookshop we founded in 1966. I was already planning to do a couple of entries here, reminiscing about our bookstore days, so this is as good a time as any to push the nostalgia button.

Taken sometime between 1981 and 1987, this picture shows a younger Jane and Mr. Bob with one of our nephews. It was in our third location and one I liked a lot, in spite of its being darker than the other places from which we peddled books.

There are so many features I could tell you about the store, one of which is the Hans Christian Andersen clock which I purchased in 1966 from the toy department of Bullock's Wilshire. It was beyond my means, and seeing my disappointment, the clerk brought from the back room a clock which had arrived with a cracked face and without any guarantee of its working condition, I was able to buy it for half of the exorbitant price. It was made in Denmark and in place of numerals, characters of the fairytales were used. It chimed on the hour and above Andersen's head are the words, "Once Upon a Time". You can see why I HAD to have it.

You can see in the first photo, that silhouettes were painted all around the walls. I thank Mr. Bob for that; when I told him of my vision but said I didn't know how it could be done, he assured me that he'd see to it and indeed he did. Over the front door we put the gypsy scene, satisfying my fascination with people who were always happily on the move.

Soon after we moved to that location, the Whittier earthquake put a crack right through the painting. We lived with it that way for years before fixing it, much to Mr. Bob's anguish. I tried to tell him that Mexican restaurants paid someone to create that effect, but he was never convinced.

Our monthly newsletter bore the name SILHOUETTES  and Christopher designed a series of six bookmarks. If nothing else, I learned in that 37 years, that one can't be subtle with the public. Even our employees didn't notice that on the lower right, the picture varied, from a perfectly flawless egg, to a tiny crack, to a gosling finally emerging and in the sixth bookmark, the baby appears over on the left hand side and the mama (the white goose) bends over to greet him. We had a contest once and any customer who could bring in all six bookmarks received a prize. There was only one winner......a 12 year old boy.

We held a weekly storytime and I find it poignant that our youngest grandson won't agree to my reading him a book. Admittedly, he has two parents that do a fine job of storytelling, but how I would love to be a bookish grandma.
Oh, well.............

So many stories could be told about the things that happened in Once Upon a Time. 

Around the corner from our bookshop was the office of a Certified Public Accountant who, as a hobby, restored old bicycles. He asked if he could use our shop display window to surprise his wife with her birthday gift when they took their nightly walk. Of course our answer was in the affirmative.

(to be continued)


  1. Absolutely love the stories about your much as I like Maureen, it will always be YOUR shop to me. I ardently look forward to more musings about OUT....Rusti

  2. Again, thanks for some very nice stuff, Hane.
    Not Yet Quite Frank (today)

  3. I am still pawing around my bookmark collection hoping to find a perfect set of Once Upon A Time gosling bookmarks! Perhaps #6 is hiding between the pages of some book I purchased long ago at Once Upon A Time!

    What a lovely, subtle design it was! Kudos to Chris!

  4. No wait!!!!!! I do have all 6!!! I just went through my bookmark collection and there was the entire hatching! I think that's worth framing! What lovely memories! (And I have the set in OUAT blue, too! Some had a www stamped on, some were black).

    What joy! Jane's signature shade of blue was particularly joyful.

  5. I can recall helping Mr Bob to try to get that clock started. Don't remember though if we succeeded.
    Perhaps it had finally given up after it's troubled beginnings
    The Dorsettler

  6. I have many fond memories of your shops. "In The Day", the name was meaningful because of the Once Upon A Time start of so many wonderful stories and books, but now it is truly a tribute to the joy you shared with all of us in the "Real" Valley. T.O. Joanne

  7. yes!! more stories !

    A Non Y Mouse

  8. Susan RJP wrote:

    Susan wrote: "Was just in the shop yesterday to pick up a few things and got Tattoos on the Heart....can hardly wait to read it. : )"

  9. What I wouldn't give to turn back the hands of time and be in that shop...

  10. The shop looks so delightful, I can understand the deep feelings you must have.
    Over the years I have seen lots of the items/figures /clock etc. fascinating Jane.

  11. You always speak about your shop with such nostalgia and delight, it's obvious it was filled as much with love as with books. I'd have loved to have had such a shop as "Once Upon a Time" to frequent. Would that all shop owners were as thoughtful and kind.

  12. Jane. As you sat there with the book open, I thought of your voice and the magic you would bring to a story brought to life. No wonder you are whimsical and fun!