By JOHN E. BIALAS
I received a Tourneau catalog in the mail at home in Gulfport, Mississippi, two weeks ago, not that I wanted one, and I had planned to trash it immediately.
Instead, I looked at it from front to back for a minute or two and saw nothing that would entice me to buy a rich person’s watch from “the preeminent purveyor of fine timepieces.” That’s how Tourneau describes itself.
The only thing that interested me was the list of locations in the back of the catalog. I saw that one of the Tourneau stores is at Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington Station, New York, the Long Island birthplace of the great American poet, essayist, journalist and humanist. The mall is across from his home, the site of a Whitman interpretive center since 1997.
Until I saw the Tourneau catalog, I never knew about Walt Whitman Shops. Wow, a mall named after the man best known for “Leaves of Grass,” published in 1855.
As a guy who loves books, I have been fascinated by Whitman’s work, his life and his influences, so I went to the Walt Whitman Shops website to check out the store directory. I was expecting a mall of American literature with a Whitman shop, a Ralph Waldo Emerson shop, a Henry David Thoreau shop, an Emily Dickinson shop and an Allen Ginsberg shop.
I was disappointed to learn there are no such shops.
The mall is a high-end destination with stores like Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Saks. All told, there are 96 businesses at the mall and that number includes restaurants.
OK, now it’s time to ask the question posed in the headline of this fine piece of quality writing.
How many bookshops are at Walt Whitman Shops?
Take a guess. I will welcome any and all.
Featured image credit: “File:Walt Whitman Shops -South Huntington, New York.jpg” by Jkingny is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0