I have to admit that when I first heard that my daughter would participated in a dance competition in Riverside, CA, I inwardly groaned. I grew up about 90 miles from Riverside, but we called it ‘Reeferside,’ a moniker that wasn’t meant as a compliment. It had been years since my two week work stint when my employer initially tried to house me in a Motel Six knock off until fearing for my safety, I switched to the local Hilton where the staff would forget that my room was rented and walk in during the night. You can see why I wasn’t excited.
It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised. There is a lot of down time during a dance competition, so our first foray into town was to the Downtowne Book Store. A small used book store tucked away off Main Street, it is quaint. The well worn wooden floors were covered in throw rugs and squeaked as we walked up and down the aisles. Mixed in with bookshelves were pieces of original art from local artists, all for sale. I even noticed a few bowls of fresh fruit, I assumed free for the taking.
The store is a long standing fixture in Riverside. We asked what was the secret to its success, the bookseller said it’s the fact that they sell everything. The selection is impressive. The standard fiction, mystery, romance, all at nice prices, yet I spent most of my time in a row with bookshelves of essay collections, criticism, theology, history and cultural topics. I came home with two essay collections, The Courage of Turtles by Edward Hoagland and Paper Trail by Michael Dorris. I chose the Hoagland collection because I enjoyed the actual essay “The Courage of Turtles” and want to experience some of his other writing. Paper Trail caught my attention for three reasons, the New York Times Book Review blurb on the front, the fact that Dorris wrote A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, and the notes written about the essays on the inside front cover by the original owner. I was curious to see what the notes meant, but I have to read the essays first.
The Downtowne Book Store isn’t the only treat in Riverside. The city is famous for its Mission Inn. I always pooh-poohed it because it’s fake, it has nothing to do with California’s beautiful missions, all of which are closer to the coast. However, the dance competition was two blocks from the Inn and a family has to eat dinner. We walked into the most beautiful courtyard. My daughter said “we’re in San Miguel again!” My son thought it reminded him of Italy. It was a warm night, we sat outside eating lovely food, laughing and enjoying the meal.
So Reeferside isn’t so bad after all.
Downtowne Book Store
3582 Main St.