Friday, October 26, 2007
Why I love being a Southern Bookseller/Bookstore Owner/Author/Queen!
Why I love being a Southern Bookseller/Bookstore Owner/Author/Queen!
Greetings from the Pulpwood Queen! Yes, I crowned myself Queen shortly
after I opened the ONLY Hair Salon/Bookstore in the country, Beauty and
the Book. My queendom all began when I was refused membership to a
local book club that had invited me as a guest! I was thrilled and assumed they had invited me to join their book club. When blurted out, "Thank you all for asking me to join your book club", you cannot imagine my surprise and dismay when I was prompted grabbed and led by the elbow by the hostess of this southern antebellum home to the galley. She whispered, "I'm so sorry Kathy, but you cannot be a member of our club. We have eight members and eight members only, unless someone dies or moves away, eight members it is."
Embarrassed beyond reason that I had been so brazen to invite myself to their exclusive book club, I slithered out shortly after returning to the main book club meeting room, as no one after that faux pas would make eye contact with me. I could just imagine them whispering as I left, "Bless her heart,(and you all know what that means), poor girl. She just did not know any better being a Yankee."
Now I moved to Texas from California in the late 80's but was born and
bred in Kansas. I never knew I was a Yankee until I moved to Jefferson, Texas. At a get to know "me" coffee, (a way to figure out who were your people), that was held in my honor when I first moved to Jefferson, I most assuredly inserted Kansas flint hills foot in mouth.
A local gentile and demure doctor's wife inquired with her little finger curled up from her coffee cup, "Tell me Kaaaaaaaaatheee, how have you
adjusted to the temp- a- tourrrrrrrrrrrr!
"Excuse me, I'm not sure what you just asked me." I had no idea what she had just said.
Exasperated, she repeated, "How have you adjusted to the temp - a
Finally, getting it, I retorted, "Oh, you mean temperature? It's hot here, very hot. In fact, I'm sweating bullets."
"Well my dear, Jefferson has not changed much since the war -wa."
"Excuse, me the what?" Again she had me completely stumped. What in the heck was the war-wa?
"The war-wa, you know the war- wa between the states."
"Oh, you mean the Civil War? Good golly Miss Molly, we covered that war in like maybe one week in the third grade. Now I know more about Korea because my daddy fought there or ask me about the Pacific campaign because all my great uncles did there duty in World War II. Now I just loved that book and movie "Gone With the Wind". That Scarlett was something huh, a regular spit fire."
Well, you could have heard a pin drop. I instantly knew that minute I was never going to be invited to join the Jesse Allen Wise Garden Club as I babbled on about Scarlett's creative use of curtains standing amongst these southern, pearl and pump clad ladies with my bleach blonde flat top. I felt like a dandelion in a patch of violets.
Twenty years has passed since that day. My hair is still blonde, I still stand out, though I will no matter how long I live here still be the new kid in town. (It certainly helped I married a local boy and feel more acceptable being able to brag, my husband's family was one the first families in Marion County going back some 7 or 8 generations, never mind they were in the timber business and country folk). The townsfolk have come to accept me as this crazy Californian hairdresser (even though I am really from Kansas) and a Yankee to boot! It is kind of like author, River Jordan once said, "Up North they hide the crazy people away but here in the south we prop them up on the front porch for all to see". Southerners just love crazy, eccentric people. Good Lord, my shop is right on the main street. I just add to that long tradition of great material for storytellers in the south. I make great copy.
"Did you see what that crazy hairdresser did yesterday afternoon. She has hung her underwear in the sugar maple tree in her shops front garden? Bless her heart, she's from California and she just doesn't know any better."
Yes, my book club members, The Pulpwood Queens, hung leopard bras in my front tree with green Mardi Gras beads during St. Patrick's Day. We called it our "Erin go Bra-less" tree to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer and our walk in the American Cancer's Society's "Relay for Life". 11:00 p.m. that same night, I was fishing them out of the tree with a rake as my landlord informed me that the garden club ladies were ringing her phone off the hook. This just would not do and on our main street no less. Never mind that that southern icon department store, Neiman-Marcus, had started this campaign on raising awareness by using bras for breast cancer. I swain, what was I thinking.
Now you may think that this would discourage me from wanting to live in this little historic city. No way, I live for this stuff. Jefferson is this wonderful little historic town that I call "Mayberry on the Bayou" with a big dollop of "Peyton Place". It's on Big Cypress bayou with alligators and Spanish moss, the furthest and last port, back in the 1800's, you could travel by steamboat too before you headed west by covered wagon, horseback or a foot. Jefferson was a bustling, thriving, merchant laden city, that was called "Belle of the Bayou" now the bed & breakfast capital of Texas. Very popular back then considering it's fair of amount of saloons, bordellos and such. We even had our own Scarlett that was called Diamond Bessie who they ended up finding murdered by her jeweler suitor on the banks of the bayou. Did I mention he was a Yankee?.
And how about the food here in Jefferson, the best pie in the world at The Hamburger Store. This Scarlett wannabe definitely will never go hungry again. In fact, I have put on fifty pounds of which I am constantly trying to work off by walking around this historic town, my version of "Sweating to the Oldies".
Music City Texas just sanctioned the Texas Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is just fifteen minutes up the road and just on the other side is The Texas Country Music Hall of Fame! I have the best of all worlds, great food, great music, great town, and an airport less than an hour a way to zip of to everywhere I would want to go.
Think of all the material I glean everyday from living in the south. Forget fiction, I could never make up the things that happen to me everyday, it would be unbelievable. Like my friend Mike, who besides renting out canoes for self-guided Big Foot tours on the bayou (if you can document a Big Foot sighting, the canoe rental is free),and local photographer who came in and told me that the police stopped him because he was taken pictures of some of the local homes. When he explained that all the tourists take photos of the historical homes, in fact, he makes his livelihood from selling photos of the older homes. The policeman told him that may well be, but he needed to move on. He looked suspicious. I looked at him and realized why. He had on knee length shorts, a t-shirt, flip flops, and long windblown blonde hair. He looked like a California surfer. Bless his heart, they thought he was a Yankee.
Every day is a page in my next book. My book will make "Gone with the Wind" look like a slim volume of prose. Title for my next work in progress? I like to call it, bless my heart, Scarlett Fever: A Classic Southern Gothic Novel.
Come see for yourself, I'll leave the hairdryer on for you at my shop!
Beauty and the Book is in an old Gulf service station and you will know it the minute you see it. My shop is the one with a big, black surf board on the front porch that says, "Big Cypress Surf Club". I've got Moon Pies and icy cold RC colas ready for ya! Cow-wa-bunga sugar!
Tiara wearing, Book and Beauty sharing,
Kathy L. Patrick
"Hairdresser to the Authors"
Founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs and author of the soon-to-published memoir, "The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life, Grand Central Publishing
Beauty and the Book
608 North Polk Street
Jefferson, Texas 75657
P.S. I will be road tripping throughout the Mid-South and South with my Pulpwood Queens in a Cadillac starting January 3 - February 4, 2008! I would love to meet all of you in person and besides at each bookstore stop I am giving the way a chance to win a Big Hair makeover, must be present to win! In the midst of this ultimate girlfriend and bookloving road trip I will be coming back in for my annual celebration of girlfriends, authors, books, and literacy which we call "Girlfriend Weekend" to be held in Jefferson, Texas. We have over 50 authors, speakers, musicians, coming from all over the country with the Grand Finale being our HAIR BALL. The theme this year is HAIRSPRAY, think 1962 and big beehive do! Mine will be a blonde leopard printed beehive and have we got some amazing surprises. Email me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org Ta ta for now booklovers!