By JOHN E. BIALAS
The roof leaks at our Barnes and Noble in Gulfport, Miss., and because of that, the valuable real estate that is the front of the Crossroads store gets caught when it rains day and night like it did on Tuesday, 3-23-21.
The display of new books is moved to a spot that keeps it from getting wet, and magazines, other books, other merchandise and the checkout counter are placed under cover.
I could have snapped a lot of photos of the scene on Tuesday, but I was worried I would draw attention and get called out. I took just one iPhone picture. It was from my seat in the magazine section at 7:35 p.m. and the photograph is the featured image for this post.
I texted the photo to my daughter and she showed it to her 9-year-old son, my grandson, an avid reader and Barnes and Noble fan just like me. When he saw the picture, he looked surprised, made a funny face and said, “Oh. Geez.”
It’s the worst the store has looked since the leaks began after Hurricane Zeta in October 2020. That’s my presumption based on observation because I haven’t talked to any of the booksellers about the roof, the stained ceiling tiles and no ceiling tiles.
I don’t want to bother the booksellers with my questions. Though they appear calm and courteous as always, I’m sure they’re stressed having to mop the floor as customers walk in. You know, the booksellers didn’t sign up for that kind of duty.
The store has gone through much worse. It was closed from August 2005 to May 2006 because of Hurricane Katrina, a depressing time for almost everyone on the Coast, not just book lovers who went through the withdrawal of being unable to make their monthly or weekly B&N visits, or in some cases, daily B&N visits.
When I make my next visit, I may look for the shelves featuring roof books. Away from the empty spaces where the tiles were, I would enjoy the search for such titles as “The Room on the Roof: A Mystery Novel for Girls” by Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon; “Roof Bosses of Winchester Cathedral” by C.J.P. Cave; “Roof Framer’s Bible” by Barry D. Mussell; and “Door County Tales: Shipwrecks, Cherries and Goats on the Roof” by Gayle Soucek.