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23 January 2010

Hale from Oxford, MS

We received a postcard from a couple of snowbird Dixonites -- the Simeones, who stopped in Oxford, Mississippi, on their way to Florida. They spent a lot of time at Square Books there, and felt compelled to send us a card, effusive about getting to attend an author's reading and getting a pile of signed books, from the likes of Rick Bragg and Wendell Berry, all who had visited Square Books. Oxford, as you may know, is the place to find William Faulkner's home & study as well as John Grisham and University of Mississippi (go Ole Miss!).

We drove past a lot of kudzu into this interesting town, interesting with a mixture of old traditions and new energy, after seeing Frances to her sister's in Nashville, TN. We retreated to the lovely courthouse square after attempting to tour the boisterously crowded University campus. We walked to where the town newspaper Oxford Eagle is housed and met the publisher. We of course spent time and got some ideas from the bookstore. We walked along the legs of the square, past the department store where Larry declined to buy a gentleman's white straw hat to City Hall and visited a bit with the then-Mayor Richard Howorth, who is one of the founding owners of Square Books. We were very impressed that two strangers such as ourselves could simply walk in, ask if we could say hello to the Mayor, get graciously shown through an open doorway and spend a lovely few minutes discussing the weather, bookselling, Wal-mart and the town's history and politics (and how, the post office had to move out of town to accommodate the large USPS trailer trucks).

The Simeones very kindly ended the note filled with names of books and praise for Square Books with the following: "Congratulations -- Books on First is closest setting to this in N. Il!". I try to be optimistic, but I do not believe it will be in our time that we will see DIXON, IL on the list of authors' tours, like New York, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Oxford, MS, Austin, TX, Denver and Berkeley.

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