Cold Water Books
Saturday June 25, 2011
Shortly after the publication of Delta Days, I received an invitation to join a group of regional authors to attend a book fair in conjunction with the annual Helen Keller Festival. The invitation had been issued by Sandi Hendrix, Manager of Cold Water Books in Tuscumbia, Alabama and I eagerly accepted.
Tuscumbia is the hometown of Helen Keller, the world renowned lady that overcame childhood blindness and deafness to become a prolific author, political activist and lecturer. With the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Keller became the first deaf and blind person to earn a University degree. The movie The Miracle Worker was based on her life. Her childhood home is well preserved and serves as the center of the festival.
In the antebellum period, Tuscumbia was a very prosperous farming center in the heart of the fertile valley of the Tennessee River. One of the first National Roads, completed in 1820, was joined by rail connections in the 1830’s to create a transportation hub in Tuscumbia. During the War for Southern Independence, this made the small city a strategic target for the invading Union Army. The city was captured and most of the rail and commercial establishments were destroyed, but much of the residential areas were spared the torch.
In the twenty-first century, small southern towns seem to fall into two distinct categories. Many formerly prosperous towns have lost their farming base and have shriveled into near ghost towns with abandoned homes and boarded up stores. There are others that have found a foothold in the modern economy based on new industry or tourism. Many of these surviving towns have been fortunate to have found a local or adopted benefactor who has been willing to make investments from a sense of civic pride.
Greenwood, Mississippi has Fred Carl and Viking Range and Clarksdale, Mississippi owes much of its revival to actor Morgan Freeman. Tuscumbia has Harvey and Joyce Ann Robbins who have devoted a substantial amount of their considerable resources to restoring downtown Tuscumbia. Among their many projects, the restoration of the downtown building that now houses Cold Water Books has created a warm and inviting ambiance.
The interior restoration of the building includes warm, rich mahogany fixtures, well executed lighting and a professional and friendly staff. Sandi Hendrix maintains a well stocked inventory of books relating to the rich local and regional history of the Shoals area, as well as, the latest selections from the best sellers list. Coffee and treats are available from Big Springs Coffee Co., another Robbins project, which connects to Cold Water.
Like many of the successful independent book stores prospering today, Cold Water maintains an active schedule of community events and offers generous support to local and regional authors through a series of book signings and book fairs. I look forward to returning to Tuscumbia and to Cold Water Books.
Categories: As I Like It!
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