Tales from the Fair

"At 5:30pm on Sunday of the 2008 St. Louis Book Fair, I was about to check out when I stopped at one last table and a title caught my eye - Collecting Nostalgia. I opened it to see the price and there was familiar handwriting. When I read the dated inscription and saw the signature, I realized it was my own mother who had given this book to her antique-business partner 30 years ago! How many books passed through the sale? Certainly, the odds of coming across this particular book are astronomical!"

- Christine, St. Ann, MO

"In 1967 when the Book Fair was on the Clayton Famous parking lot, we were so seriously wound up in looking at all the books, when it came time to feed our 1 year old, we went to the car and heated the jar of baby food and bottle on the radiator rather than go home. My daughter didn't mind, she had her meal and enjoyed watching all the book hunters at stroller level!"

- Pat, St. Louis, MO

"My family and I love the book fair. We have been coming for the last six years and now jokingly refer to it as our "high holiday" I always remember it being a little rainy, slightly cool or even cold but that never matters, there's that hush in the parking garage as everyone patiently looks through hundreds of books to find treasure. It's my favorite weekend in the whole year, even more fun now that my kids are old enough to get excited about the books they find all on their own."

- Michelle, St. Louis, MO

"As a life-long book lover, I went with great anticipation (forgot the combat boots) to the Fair at Famous-Barr in Clayton and found a book titled Thurley Ruxton, published around 1904, a best-seller then. It was one of only two books my mother ever read but had lost; unfortunately she named me for the heroine. It was 10 cents, an heirloom now. It's a very difficult name, so I go by my middle name. I'm glad she didn't read Fanny Hill."

- Maureen (T Maureen), Santa Susana, CA

"Since 2005 I've been working to build a complete set of several out-of-print paperback book collections dealing with World War II and other major military subjects. Every year, I come to the Fair and manage to find books I've been dying to get my hands on, and usually for a better price at local used book stores (whom I've already cleaned out anyway). Since we have family plans that take us out of town this exact weekend every year, I always make sure I stop in to shop before I hit the road."

- Aaron, St. Louis, MO

"I love to go to opening night. I have attended the book fair for many years. A few years ago, I was standing in line for the opening night, when a man came up to me and said that he see's me at the book fair every year. He said, "You're my book fair buddy, even though I don't know you." That's the way I feel about everyone there. It is always a fun evening."

- Maureen, St. Louis, MO

"I love the big St. Louis Book Fair, and go every year. I love running into friends there. Usually, we've both got shopping carts filled with great finds."

- Byron, St. Louis, MO

"I took my mother to one of the first Book Fairs after the move from Famous Barr to West County, when it was still held in the circus tent. It was a bright and sunny April day, but soon the sky turned green and the wind whipped through the tent, sending books and papers flying. My mother got very scared and went into the mall, but I stayed until the storm passed. I found out later there was a tornado warning, but I found the out-of-print scriptbook to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (how fitting)!"

- Dana, St. Louis, MO

"I've been coming to sale on Thursday for the last 10 years, I get there around 9 am & sit in line for 7 hours wating for the start. My favorite moment is that moment the sale opens & everyone is dashing to their favorite sections, running with their shopping carts trying to get a jump on the guy or gal behind you. I'll spend 250 to 300 dollars each year, stay all 6 hours till closing, and during that time I'm transported to another time and place."

- Rod, Effingham, IL

"Mom took us to Famous in Clayton; we loaded a cart with books, mysteries and poetry books by old-time authors. Dad made shelves in our basement for the books; we read them all. I played librarian and lent some out to neighbors. I made cards to put in books and drug them around in my wagon. If they borrowed a book, I wrote their name on a card & returned later to pick up those they'd finished and give them a new one."

- Colleen, St. Louis, MO

"I joyfully lugged 15 bags of books from the sale to my car parked far, far away. No problem. I had scored the orginial music used by a famous conductor with his notations all scribbled in the margins. For the price and quality, many of the books made great gifts, and all on a budget. I'm from California and I've never seen anything like this there!"

- Ann, Lake St. Louis, MO

"I remember when the book fair used to be on the top parking lot in a huge tent at West County Mall. One year I was in the tent with hundreds of other book enthusiasts when they came on the intercom and announced "there has been a tornado warning issued for this area. Please leave the tent". I looked around to see how others were responding and most just kept looking and scanning. I shrugged my shoulders and went right back to looking for my precious books."

- Carol, Florissant, MO

"I've always loved to read, but my first time at the Book Fair was almost by accident. I had a nearby apptmt early Sat. in 2006, and I'd heard of a book sale at the mall, so I stopped in. That was it - I was hooked. In '07, I tried to take a day off from work, but could only get away for a few hrs. Finally, in '08 I got it right - had the whole Friday off, got to the mall early with an Egg McMuffin (much to the jealousy of my fellow line members) and shopped ALL day. (And came back Sat. too!)"

- Anita, Grover, MO

"In 1967 when I was a Junior in High School in Cuba Missouri, my mother took me and a school friend to the Book Fair held at the old Famous Barr in Clayton. My friend and I both loved books and we spent the entire afternoon and evening picking out books. We went home laden with bags of books and thrilled with the idea of a book fair. I have been a patron ever since so the upcoming Fair in 2009 will make 32 years for me."

- Ralph, Festus, MO

"I've had many fond memories at the Book Fair, meeting friends, battling the weather(!), etc, but on one memorable opening preview night, a reporter from the Post-Dispatch was covering the event. He happened to be standing near me just when I opened a book I was interested in and found that it was signed by the late author. The reporter immediately interviewed me for inclusion in his published article. -An unexpected perk."

- Peter, St. Louis, MO

" My favorite book fair memory is from the second year I attended. Two of my friends from high school wanted to attend so badly that I busted them out during the school day. We raced to the fair and fought for a parking space and for a cart. My friend wandered off and ended up coming back with all the books in a series she had been looking for and more. Thanks for giving us a great day of memories GSL book fair!"

- Rachelle, St. Charles, MO