Magical Night at Chamblin’s Uptown: My Favorite Bookstore Turns 40

Tim Gilmore reading at Chamblin

Tim Gilmore reading excerpts from his latest book, We Are All Used Books: 70 Conversations With Ron Chamblin (photos by Bill Ectric)

To use an old cliche, a good time was had by all at Chamblin’s Uptown, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the opening of legendary bookstore Chamblin Bookmine. There was food, drinks, readings, celebration, and camaraderie, all surrounded by books of every kind, both new and used, on shelves, walls, countertops, and in people’s hands. I saw several good friends and made some new friends.

My first visit to Ron Chamblin’s used book store in the late 1970s was magical, like walking into Olivander’s Magic Wand shop in the Harry Potter books (although, of course, Harry Potter would not be introduced to the world until many years later).

Here, I’ll let Charlie Patton of the Florida Times-Union tell you what it was all about:

Over the last four decades, Chamblin has moved the Chamblin Bookmine twice and opened a second store, Chamblin’s Uptown, half-a-block from Hemming Park,while buying almost every book he can… With 33,000 square feet of retail space — 23,000 in his store on Roosevelt Boulevard and 10,000 downtown — and an additional 22,000 square feet of storage space in two warehouses, four tractor trailers and a barn at his house on Fleming Island — Chamblin accumulated what he estimates is about 3.5 million books… Because this is his 40th anniversary in the business, some of his friends and employees have organized a “BYOB and Buy-a-Book Block Party” that will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Chamblin’s Uptown, 215 N. Laura St. One of those friends, Tim Gilmore, has written and published a biography, “We Are All Used Books: 70 Conversations with Ron Chamblin.”

Read More We Are All Used Books cover

A Shout Out to Tom Harris, Art Teacher

Tom Harris, Art Teacher, Retired, Quincy High School, Quincy, FL

I recently wrote about my great-uncle, Corbett Hamilton, who wrote poetry as well as a series of newspaper articles about the Hatfield-McCoy feud. Today I want to introduce my wife’s great-uncle, Tom Harris, a retired art teacher from Quincy, Florida. One of Mr. Harris’ art students was Dean Mitchell, one of the most recognized and award-winning watercolor artists in the nation.  A brochure accompanying his 2011 Gadsden Arts Center exhibit says, “Mitchell’s high school teacher Tom Harris was an early champion, taking him to art fairs and competitions, in addition to helping him develop his skills in school.”

Those of you who know me, know that I believe teaching is one of the noblest professions. It’s my understanding that when states cut their budgets, art and music are often the first subjects to go. This is sad, because science and math need to be balanced with things like music and art.

Dean Mitchell, Artist