Books, Coffee, Crabs: Lives of a Building

Photo of old Victorian house, with a front porch. The house is light gray with white trim. Two boys are on the porch.

In summer, I often think back to the summers of my childhood. I grew up (ages 2-13) in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware — and I returned there every summer until I finished college. Back then, summers centered around my grandparents’ store: Gingerbread Square Books.

In the above photo, I’m the one sitting and my older brother Ramsey is standing. The photo is from the mid-1970s. It’s before the store’s sign was added to the pediment (if that’s the correct word) above us. I like that you can see, in the darkened interior behind me and above my head, a stack of books resting on a stair.

This building is on Rehoboth Avenue, next to the Post Office (at the corner of Rehoboth Avenue and 2nd Street).

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the building with the bookstore’s sign. But here’s a painting from 1984 with more vivid color than the older photo. The brick walkway next to the building led to a small courtyard, then a mall with spaces for several stores.

Painting of the side of the building, with a brick walkway next to it. The walkway ends in a courtyard, where there is a shed on one side, and a large building is at the end.

Working at the bookstore shaped me a great deal. I already enjoyed reading the books we borrowed from the library, then the store broadened the array of books I saw.

When I sat at the cashier’s counter, I read when I didn’t have a work task to do, such as restocking shelves. Typically, the store was quiet in the middle part of the day — as tourists were enjoying the beach and ocean.

I inhaled whatever caught my eye: comic books (X-Men, Batman, Richie Rich, Spider-Man, Daredevil, etc.), The Three Investigators, colorful children’s books, Choose Your Own Adventures, photography books, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, novels by Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, Tom Clancy, etc.

In all that reading, I fell in love with books. I saw them as delivering a kind of magic to transport me to other places and times, seen through the eyes of various characters.

I wanted to someday be able to create that kind of magic, to become a writer when I grew up. That stayed only a desire until my late teenage years, when I started writing stories.

Wasn’t until my 40s that I finished longer projects of novellas and a story collection — after a stretch of too many years when I didn’t write. Now I’m a hobby writer. I still hope to become a full-time writer, but that may have to wait until I retire.

My grandfather sold the property in the late 1990s. The building became Java Beach Coffee House and Cafe. I visited there with my wife and two daughters in 2005. Seeing the building with a different sign and colors and purpose was surreal…

The same Victorian house, now painted yellow-brown with a medium-brown trim. The sign reads Java Beach Coffee House and Cafe.

My family visited earlier this year, and we saw that the building became Claws Seafood House. Not only a new sign and colors, but a side room was added. Also, the brick walkway leading to the mall is blocked. The mall became The Pines restaurant, with an entrance on Baltimore Avenue.

The same Victorian house, now painted white with red trim. The sign reads Claws Seafood House and has a crab on it.

Now the only bookstore in town is Browseabout Books, an independent store. It used to be a competitor to our family business. Times and minds change. I enjoy visiting Browseabout, and I’m very glad it’s still around to serve as a source for books. What is a town without a bookstore? I hesitate to say one without a soul, but then I’m biased due to my love of books. If you ever visit Rehoboth, please check out the store — located at 133 Rehoboth Avenue…

A one-story building with a long green awning that reads Browseabout Books. The windows include displays of many books.

Mediterranean Philosopher (‘Ulysses’ pages 671-732)

Photo of a sailboat on the sea, with a storm approaching.
by Boba Jovanovic/Unsplash

This is the last poem in the project, as we’ve reached the last page of the Dover edition of Joyce’s Ulysses. As luck would have it, the words lent themselves to come up with a poem about Odysseus and his journey home. Well, very roughly about the journey. And, who knows, maybe one of the sailors on the ship was named Raymond.

Mediterranean philosopher
bearing formidable years:
migrations on windy sea.

Land leavetaking,
recurrent snakespiral movement
with smellow course,
everchanging travelled.

Wonder somewhere,
he lost the ways,
madly crossing where
tattarrattat music
(like breathing)
brought trouble,
snapped careless men.

Shake possessed sailors:

Captain, winds going crookeding miles,
whistling badtempered.
“Sweet horror!” said Raymond.

Castoffs sing moon heart.
Fish dances,
telling of universe deepdown.

Imperfect, the Spoonseat (‘Ulysses’ pages 620-670)

Photo of a school of fish
by Lance Anderson/Unsplash

Imperfect, the spoonseat:
wooden profundity,
metamorphoses to inverted basket.

Possible amusement:
fish on bicycles
excelled in world’s wheels games.
Power race!

Theoretical catastrophe:
Harry cut time,
making hour suppressed.

Turningpoint of nightblue atmosphere:
luminous constellations rendered unstable.
space furled, unfolded in design.
Inverted days!
Unhooked minutes!

Parrot countrybound:
course to discovery.

Soapsuddy Mind (‘Ulysses’ pages 569-619)

Photo of many soap bubbles floating in the air.
by Drew Beamer/Unsplash

Soapsuddy mind
blissfully was suggestive
without inquisitive.

Narcotic bamboozled specimen just sits.
Eggsniping scheme to study
habitually becalmed personage.

Authority was Sherlockholmesing people.
Enhances consumption
of uncertain information:
pseudo “truth.”
Brain vagaries, mind change.

Though insuppressible folk
upsetting the course:
doubt questioned propaganda.
“Utopian” society
possessed peril
to muchneeded upright life.

Note: This poem doesn’t immediately follow the previous poem’s page numbering because before this poem are a couple of blank pages and the start of Part III.

Peer into “The Hidden Pocket” this weekend! — Ellen Khodakivska

I wanted to help spread the word about this free ebook … today’s the last day!

Forget-me-not, a cat and gnomes, and many other things are bosomed in “The Hidden Pocket.” Pic by congerdesign on Since something glorious is coming for me soon, I’ve decided to send a package of gratitude to the Universe. It seems to me that in my case, the best way to fill the box with […]

Peer into “The Hidden Pocket” this weekend! — Ellen Khodakivska

Onions Ramble, Squabbling (‘Ulysses’ pages 517-565)

A person dressed all in black and masked is holding a golden crown
by Lians Jadan/Unsplash

Onions ramble, squabbling,
carries wise dog
that thought,
I smells peaches. Yumyum!

Whokilla the laughing king?
Jauntyhatted cavaliers?
Groangrousegurgling sailor from Dalkey?

Sending police:
the ickylickysticky mystery,
thick afraid for country,
provokes gallows.
Deathflower for king.

Police revealing townsmen
towards witness.
Muttering citizen:
“Virag looms, tinkling secret.”

Super Fun Happy Book Discount – Today Only — Lee’s Hall of information

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Understand Walks (‘Ulysses’ pages 466-516)

Photo of a woman dancing on a country road
by Clay Banks/Unsplash

Understand walks:
shall trousers be symmetry?

Steps higgledypiggledy,
glides with barefoot feetshuffling.
Supersumptuous fun!

Beware walking in melancholy pajamas.

Bubblyjocular spindlelegs
work with delights
and in brisk zigzag.

Go gently tapping,
stifflegged pace to walk sideways,
tiptouch care.

Or dance as wonderwide horseplay!
Skipping highkickers,
’twas of play:

copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Trickleaps Wall (‘Ulysses’ pages 414-465)

Photo of a person running in a forest
by Jakub Kriz/Unsplash

Trickleaps wall,
vanish in blinking!

Her wolfeyes wideopen,
’twas night round.

Terrier races in the chase!
Growling lion!

In escape,
in passages unfortunate,
she bellows:
“Justice for inflamed ladies!
O, savagely nameless crowd,
lift the slipperslapper alarm!”

Murmuring torchlight procession:
fellmongers thereunto approaching,
guns powerful.

Horns arrive!
Lorry tooraloom!

She lives.

copyright © 2021 Dave Williams

Count Cuckoo, Canarybird (‘Ulysses’ pages 363-413)

Photo of a cuckoo clock
by Kmtextor/Wikimedia Commons

“Count cuckoo, canarybird,”
the hour rightwiseness was spoke.

Doubt cast terrorcausing quiet.

Remembrance applepie youth,
clock poured tears.
’Tis running life with storms
and wibblywobbly forecast:
of joyful instances,
lonely labours.

Starborn wish:
mysteries beheld the philosopher,
whereby memory told clock:
“Hurroo! Sprung time,
you round, lurching discontent!”

Stubborn mirror gasps.

copyright © 2021 Dave Williams