Our Massachusetts trip really was a break in the action after our Michigan winter. In addition to looking forward to spending time with Rick's brother and his wife, we also anticipated the trade show and that great relief after when you know it has gone well. Even though there was still a lot of snow and ice, in our hearts it felt like spring was just a few days away (which it actually was!).
While returning back to Randy and Elaine's home base in Pittsfield after the trade show, we took the scenic route. It wasn't quite a scenic as it might normally be -- it was a cold, constant rain. But our destination was warm and cozy and well worth the extra miles. We were visiting the Montague Bookmill in Montague, MA.
And how do you get there, you might ask. Well, when the shop's motto is "Books you don't need from a place you can't find," you might expect a few twists and turns on the road -- and we found them. When I told my friend Kate about it she said, "So, if you get to Montague, you're good, right?" Not so fast! There are a lots of ways you can go to possibly get there -- but most of them are wrong! Let's just say we were happy to see the Montague Mill complex!
All worries were over when we walked into the shop. This is my dream place -- a historical building filled with very well organized books and cards. All the books are used, or at least all I saw -- but all in excellent condition. We saw several families cuddled on sofas reading to their children, people working on their laptops and lots of people settled in to read.
The mill itself was a gristmill built on the banks of the Sawmill River in 1832. If you're in the Northhamptom/Amherst region you are within striking distance! The building served as a mill and home for a machine company until the 1980s when it was turned into a bookstore. After several owners, current owner, Susan Shilliday, brought the bookstore in 2007.
Susan's story is an interesting one. Rick and I know her brother Barkley and Rick had met Susan on a previous trip East. She had been a successful screenwriter, writing the popular series "thirtysomething," the films "Legends of the Fall" and "I Dreamed of Africa" and for TV, adapting Madeleine Engel's "A Wrinkle in Time." Raised in the South, she had lived in Los Angeles for many years as she built her writing career. But when her daughters graduated from high school, they went to college in Massachusetts. Sometime after their college graduation, Susan decided she was ready to quit the L.A. scene and head East, purchasing the Bookmill.
From the looks of it, it was a wise decision. On this rainy day, one that you wonder would make anyone go out who didn't have to, the shop was crowded and everyone was enjoying themselves. I found a used copy of my current book club selection in fiction, along with one of Peter Mayle's books set in Provence. Rick bought a collection of Alice Munro short stories and a book of recipes for camping. We weren't the only ones in line, either. And I confess, with an unlimited budget, I would have been happy with the art selection, cookbooks, biographies and volumes on theatre and film. Who wouldn't?!
Even the bathroom was fun!
And who could resist the vintage typewriters! That was definitely a blast from the past!
As we left the Bookmill, we stopped into another shop, Sawmill Art Gallery, which featured work by regional artists. I found a couple of treasures there, too, of course! And then it was back to a laid back evening in Pittsfield.
Not bad for a cold, rainy, wet day! And even the rain stopped by the time we hit the road -- now, who could argue with that!
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