For some time now, I’ve tried to write an “Ode to Main Street Books”. Alas, I’m not a poet and writing an ode is quite beyond me. So, I’ll post this blog instead!
It’s hard to exaggerate how happy it makes me to walk into the bookstore on Main Street in Frostburg and see Fred Powell– bookstore owner for 32 years, guru to book-lovers near and far, not to mention community icon–sitting at his desk, squinting at his laptop. It means that once he looks up, he’ll be glad to see me. He will speak wisely about books and suggest titles that might be of interest. He’ll give me advice when I need it. Fred is a very patient man.
Not only does Fred order books with dispatch, he ships them wherever you want them to go. He happily joins in kids’ events like “Pirates Ahoy!” and “Christmas Storybook Hour”. He runs a book club, hosts readings, and supports local authors like me.
Having recently published my second book Expecting the World – Learning from Women in Left-Out Places – a memoir about my 30 years working in international development for the World Bank—I was alarmed to learn that my publisher would be sending six boxes of my book to my house in the U.S. a full month before I’d return from my house in Portugal. Naturally, I conferred with Fred, who offered to receive the boxes at Main Street Books on my behalf, then store them for me until I got home. Not only this, but he’d also send copies of my book to my two sons in Oregon so they ‘d arrive in time for Christmas.
Although a winter surge of Covid in Western Maryland is likely keep me from a live book launch, I have no doubt that Fred Powell will host a reading for me when it is safe again,
Fred and and author Krystyna Poray Goddu
Krystyna Poray Goddu, author of A Girl Called Vincent about the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, remarked to me on the phone the other day: “Every small town should have a book store like Main Street Books, and a bookstore owner like Fred Powell. How lucky for Frostburg that it does!” When I published my first book – also about Edna St. Vincent Millay – Fred was there for me – co-hosting my reading with the Frostburg Center for Literary Arts, and reported afterward that he’d sold many copies of my book.
Last year during lock-down in Portugal, I couldn’t get home for Christmas. One phone call to Fred in Frostburg made it possible for me to “shop locally” in Frostburg, while living in Portugal! It also meant that my family and friends would all have received at least one wrapped Christmas present from me.
“When my grandchildren were in town for Thanksgiving,” Frostburg resident and prize-winning author Barbara Hurd told me recently: “We made our usual trip to Main Street Books. As we drove home, I told my daughter that if Fred ever left and the store closed, I would feel utterly bereft. For over 30 years, he has been the source of so much richness and the center of a surprisingly vibrant literary community in these scattered hills.”
Barbara Hurd and Stephen Dunn
“When my husband Stephen Dunn died in June and we were trying to figure out how to word the “make a contribution in his memory” line in his obituary, Stephen’s daughter Andrea suggested we direct donations to Main Street Books. She knew, as did the whole family from Boston to St. Louis, what a lively magnet the store had been for Stephen and how fitting it seemed to give something back to it.”
Yes! So, let’s buy our books on Main Street–the very least we can do for someone who’s such a gift to us.
Yes! Let’s buy your book “Expecting the world” on Main Street!
Directly from Frostburg to Colares, Portugal, can I do it?
Please send me his email contact 🙂
Well I think that is a super idea!!! (We’ll need to find out what Fred Powell thinks!!) His email address is: email@example.com. And thank you for your support of my book AND of Main Street Books, Bela!! See you soon! Beijinhos, Jerri
I wrote atoday n email to Fred Powell asking him if I can buy “Expecting the world” at Main Stree Books, let’s wait his answer…
Hope you and Terry had a very good Christmas, beijinhos from Portugal.
Thank you so much, Bela! It is very generous to buy your book from Main Street Books in Frostburg, MD when you live in Lisbon!! It means so much to me. We had a very nice – if quiet — Christmas. We are avoiding large groups and so had to cancel our participation in several events we were looking forward to. But we are healthy and well and so caution makes sense to us. thinking of you and Miguel and hope you, too, have had a lovely holiday. Beijinhos, Jerri
I think this is makes a very fine ode.
Thank you, Vivienne!! One does what one can!!
Thank you for including me in your Ode to Fred and MSB, Jerri! What a lovely surprise to find myself in Fred’s company again…..wish it could be in person. I loved MSB for many years before you introduced me to Fred, and once I met him I understood why the bookshop is as wonderful as it is: Fred is a stellar bookseller who understands both his community and the book business–and is both fun and interesting to talk to. Now that I’m permanently in NYC, I miss our conversations and the many hours of browsing in the shop. Every town, whatever its size, deserves a bookseller like Fred and a shop like MSB.
Thank you, Krystyna. We miss you in Western Maryland!!