Bookseller’s Valediction (Carol B. Chittenden, Eight Cousins, Falmouth, MA)

carolchittendenDear Readers,
If everyone had a job as absorbing and rewarding as mine has been at Eight Cousins, the world would be a far happier place — and that’s not even counting the chance to play with stickers on gift wrapping. In answer to the many questions about my future plans, l have decided not to go blonde and change my name to Peaches, pending the issuance of my NASCAR license. But then there’s that window-washing job at Buckingham Palace, the offer of a goldmine in Hong Kong, the opening for a roller-coaster tester at Six Flags Over Anywhere, or the chance to join the Very Senior Rodeo Team in Oskaloosa. Possibilities abound, but none could match the fun I’ve had at Eight Cousins for the past 28 years. I’ve loved every single week of it, loved watching children, parents, and grandparents move through each other’s lives, enjoyed the opportunity to read great literature and meet amazing authors and illustrators, valued the chance to participate in the community, and had the honor of working with smart, caring people.

But the world is not always a clean and friendly place. It’s more exciting than that, even as it can be cold, confusing, stressful, even violent. It can wear love away, crush efforts, and betray hopes. It can drown us in data, but deny understanding. And in the end, each of us dies. That is where stories come from, and why there are books. Even in desperate times, good books take us beyond our own lives and cast light upon the bigger picture. They lend vicarious excitement to the dull moments. They reveal sources of courage and humor and unexpected love. They offer us art, language, and the wisdom of the world. It has been a privilege to bring them to you.

My motto is, I have discovered, “Use what you have and do what you can.” Nobody has everything; no one can do it all. I had the opportunity to make a bookstore, and I have done what I could, with all my heart. With your help, the business has grown bigger and busier as I have grown older and slower. Luckily, three intelligent, industrious women have stepped forward, eager to use what they have and do what they can to keep Eight Cousins healthy and growing. Mary Fran Buckley, Sara Hines, and Eileen Miskell are all longtime participants in the life of the store, and they will be listening carefully to your requests and responses. I hope you will take a chance on them just as you took a chance on that tiny enterprise that Eight Cousins was in 1986. And now, I believe my hot air balloon is ready for me to step aboard and rise into the starry future. Thank you for everything.

Carol
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