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Letter From Home “Borders” 7/26/11

July 26, 2011

The recent news over the closing of all Borders stores was not unexpected.  After all, the book market has taken a hit with electronic reads, and the national economy has made for rougher sales in all types of markets.  Yet the closing of this chain of stores, in addition to a special one in Madison, makes me lean nostalgic.

It was there at Borders in Madison where I met James.

We all have had a special hangout at one time or another where the personal cares of life were not allowed, and only pleasantries were our companions.  Many find that in a bar, some on the golf course, fewer still on a boat.  For me the best place to escape for almost a decade was the Borders store on University Avenue in Madison.

I loved to strike it rich with a window seat, a couple of the newspapers that were floating around among the customers, and a mug of amazing coffee.  I would wind up at this place most late afternoons for almost a decade.  I did countless crossword puzzles there, along with games of Scrabble. (Some with my nephew Troy.) 

There was nothing better than to be at the window drinking java when Mother Nature unleashed torrents of rain that beat on the glass, or unsettled everyone with a blast of thunder that was preceded with the illumination of the place by a lightning bolt.  Snow could pile on the cars, or heat could sizzle off the sidewalk.  All was fine with the world when inside the Borders coffee shop.

It was this bookstore where Brad, my favorite coffee-drinking buddy, and I would stop for newspapers and conversation before heading out for some hiking area in the county.  We never were mindful of the time we took reading and drinking coffee as we both fully understood with our sense of directions we were only going to get lost when we left the city limits.  Why force the time when we would have to open a map or ask for the way from strangers.

It was at this Borders on May 24th, 2000 that I had pulled a couple of books about Montana from the shelves, and was planning to browse them concerning a trip I was planning that summer.  But as was my custom I first was going through the newspapers.  It was then someone came up to my small table with a cinnamon roll in hand asking “Anything good in the news today?”

I had met James. 

James had worked for a time at Borders after moving to Madison, and before securing a teaching job at a local college.  I have always marveled at what a perfect place, given my interests, to meet someone very special.

Borders would remain for a few more years a favorite place to read and drink coffee, visit with close friends, and relax.  But in time I found a better place to do all that.

My front lawn.

During the last few years I used Borders liked most did, as just a place to buy books.  Now that is all gone.

While there are other stores and places to shop I really do not feel the connection that I had with the shelves and placement of books that were found at that most special of bookstores once open on University Avenue. 

I wonder how many other relationships started at Borders?

  1. July 29, 2011 11:06 PM


    Patrick might feel the same way about Annie….

  2. Solly permalink
    July 29, 2011 10:46 PM

    I often wondered why the papers I bought at Borders had muffin crumbs and coffee stains in them. I went to the West side Madison Borders many times at lunch break as I worked across the steet. When they closed, I saved a lot of money but missed the latest mags and books and the great staff. I went to the east side closing sale yesterday, and there was a line of 40 of us waiting to check out with two registers open. They used to pull that on the west side store during lunch hour too, expecially during the christmas rush. And when there are 50 people waiting, I don’t need to hear the cashiers trying to sell the borders advantage card, or whatever. HELLO! WE’RE TRYING TO GIVE YOU OUR MONEY!!! I asked the woman behind me if she’d let me back in if I found a manager and asked them to open more registers. They did, and five minutes later we were all checked out. Cubs foods is famous for that too, the managers will watch lines build back into the food aisles, and then when I get two away from checking out, and can’t move, they’ll open a new register in the next lane and someone just walking up get’s checked out. I’ve left more than one cart with ice cream and meat and produce in the aisle at Cubs. Coincidently, they’ve had a loss of bidness and closed Madison stores too. Oh, I guess I’ve taken the romantic edge off your tale of Borders. But you’ve already dumped me for Annie K………………

  3. July 26, 2011 7:19 PM

    You are becoming my favorite person who leaves a comment….please do not leave me.

  4. Annie K. permalink
    July 26, 2011 6:53 PM

    Cute story. And seriously, if you don’t stop this, I’m gonna have to go find some other victim to mercilessly chew on.
    Quick! say something really really annoying.

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