Who would have imagined the effect
a squeaky door would have on one's "psyche." You push
the door, you hear the squeaky hinges, and
you find yourself in a place that time and progress has
pretty much left behind.
who grew up in Lisle will probably understand exactly what
saying. Walking into the Book Nook on Main Street is
by far the best definition of being in a great little town. The
Book Nook "is" Lisle.
had not been in Lisle for years. When I returned, I hugged
my Mom hello,
listened to a couple hours of her stories, caught up on what
my brothers and sisters were up to. Then, after eating a piece
of her special "welcome home" cheese cake, she asked
what I wanted to do. She knew I had a long flight and figured
be hanging out and calling a few of my ol' buds. I'll never
forget the look on her face when I told her what I REALLY wanted
" You want to go check out what...?" she asked.
want to go up town and check out the Book Nook" I told
She gave me that look of "what the...?" but
figured I was on some sort of mission. She welcomed me home
again.. I grabbed my
keys and off I went.
It was like being ten years old all over
"Mom! I'm going uptown! I'll be back later!"
I Instinctively looked to where I used to park my bike. But
today, I was getting
into my rental car.
south down Main and then stopping at Ogden Avenue. The light
was red and there I waited.
Looking into town in front of me,
like I was getting ready to enter the door at a "20 year
my arrival were
friends that have been wondering how I've been. And I have
been wondering how they've been. Have they changed?
the old businesses? Could I still race my bike up their sidewalks
and feel invincible?
On the right was the old Minuette restaurant.
looks pretty much
same. "Cool!" There's
Citgo gas station on the left. I wonder what ever happened
to Phillips 66? Oh,
it's a bank now. Hmm.
the light turned green, I slowly entered into that charming
little arena of memories called Lisle. Just like a
reunion, there were so
many new faces that have been added to our friends lives
over the years. In Lisle, there are buildings that have been
faces that have changed, and in some cases, some that have
been carelessly taken away forever.
But looking closely,
you can still see much of the charm in the little brown stoned
have been living here for all of our lives. "There's
Economy Foods!" "There's the Flower shop!" "There's
one with a long story of it's own.. Each one gently asking.. "Remember
old buildings were there watching over our childhood "side
walk" antics. They were there watching our street fairs.
We painted their windows at Halloween and they held our attention
while we had to wait for mom to finish her business. Most
of the names on the buildings were different but the buildings
themselves still stood.. In
line.. Still happy to be a part of what makes Lisle feel like
a small town.
I drove ahead, the little building I had come to see appeared.
It had gone through some changes on the outside but it was
still "The Book Nook."
As I got out of my car, I wondered if it would be the same.
I mean, by all odds, this place should have been torn out and
replaced by a "StarBucks" or a "Barnes& Noble" a
long time ago.
The Book Nook 1960s
That wonderful door!
The Book Nook in June, 2004
man walked out the door in front of me like most people
leaving the Book Nook... In a hurry.
It seemed that most "grown ups" came in and out of this
place with a singular mission at hand. They weren't there to shop
They were there for one item. A dad getting his paper on the way
to the train. A mom getting the latest "Home & Garden" magazine.
A teenager desperately looking for a card to give his girlfriend.
A pack of smokes, batteries, film... Sometimes
it seemed like this place moved pretty fast. And now it was my
turn.. "My turn to check it out!"
I walked up to the door, I
noticed that it was the same ol' wooden door I had remembered.
It always felt gigantic. And thick! I put my hand on the door's
brass push plate and slowly pushed it open. And what happened
next may seem a little strange.
As I pushed the door open, the door hinges let out
Oh that "sound!" It was a sound that I had
heard a million times. It was a sound that sent me right back
cold winter's day.
On my way to school and stopping in to buy "Jolly Rancher"
cinnamon "penney" candy. Or
in the fall, just before Halloween, stopping in to buy a caramel
apple on a stick.
Or Spring time, to buy a kite! Or Summer time, going in to
buy a "drumstick" ice cream! Or
baseball cards! Or comic books!
That crazy little "sound" had awakened a time
in my heart that had been stored away for years!
entering, there is another old memory that hits you immediately.
It's something I never expected.
I've lived just about everywhere
but this was something that I've only found at the Book Nook.
It's probably been there longer than I've been alive and it's
probably been greeting customers for decades. What is it? Ok?
You ready??? Alright...
inside the Book Nook is exactly the way I remembered it
years ago! And what the heck was it? It's not a bad smell.
In fact, it's a wonderful smell! Do newspapers smell like this?
Was it all the books?
Well, before I sat down to write this piece, I struggled with
How can I describe the smell of the Book Nook
to someone that might actually read this? Was there such a
thing as "scratch n sniff" for the computer? Hmm.
But after about four weeks of agonizing, I think I may have
nailed it. Now
don't laugh... You can even try this yourself. Your friends
and family will think your nuts but, for me, that's nothing
it's actually pretty simple.
making some popcorn.. Then find
a pack of cigarettes. ("Easy now..")
Now open the top of the cigarette pack
and put your nose right on top of the cigarettes. I know it
sounds crazy but it is a wonderfully sweet smell! Now,
If you can mix the aroma of fresh popcorn with the smell of
sweet tobacco, you can almost experience the Book Nook from
anywhere in the country. Now admit it. That's kinda cool!
there, I looked down and recognized another wonderful feature
of the Book Nook.
Looking down onto the floor,
you'll see a path. It's a path that literally has been worn
into the floor by years of people coming and going from the store.
It turns left to the newspapers, then straight up to the counter
to check out, then right back to the door. Great stuff!
a literal "tattoo" of
sorts that's taken decades to create. How many Lisle
has it taken to
create it? I only wonder.
I guess the beauty of it is that no "artificial faux finish" paint
was used to get the effect. Nope, this was real.
cool to think that my boyhood sneakers may had played a roll
around the store, I noticed that some things had been rearranged.
But the majority of the important items were still in the store.
Take a left and you land at the newspaper section.
As a kid,
I could never figure out why anyone would be interested in
any of these boring publications! Now, I'll read two of them
a day. Go figure.
turn around and your heading for the main counter. It's a little
different. The wonderful ice cream case, that was in there
for years, was gone. The counter is still where it belonged.
There were more magazines than there used to be. And interestingly
enough, the owner put in a display case to show off artifacts
from the Lisle area. He even had a couple of old Tonka trucks
displayed in it. I even found a little area where he was
Whoever this guy was, I knew I had to meet him!
then it happened. Yes... Looking to the right you'll see
it. The one place that any
kid, who grew up in Lisle, could tell you all about. There
it was in all it's glory!
It was almost comical the way it sat there before
me. If you grew up in Lisle, you know exactly what I'm talking
about. Ah yes, the penny candy section at The Book Nook! And
it was sitting in the same place that it had for decades!
Think about it.
For so many of us, this was the first place we were
to freely shop! On our own!
It was the first place we were
ever allowed to make the really big decisions!
If you had a nichol?
That's five items!
A dime? Ten items.
While that door was squeaking, the people were coming and going,
you would be standing there, with those cool "kid's size" mini
brown shopping bags, contemplating exactly which pieces of
candy to buy. Sometimes, I swear, I was in there, for at least
a half hour, with my finger on my chin and my eyes fixed on
We could have stood there an hour.. But we always
ended up buying the same type of candy that we had bought the
last time we were there. I
always ended with the same three... Kraft caramel squares,
Jolly Rancher cinnamon and Bazooka Joe bubble gum! Yup! Always
Book Nook interior showing the front counter. Notice
the worn area on the floor just in front of the counter.
This shot also shows the owner's display cabinet, the
"penny candy" area and "the door."
a closer shot of the "penny candy" area. To the left
is a tobacco cabinet that (I believe) contributes to
the unique aroma inside.
day at school, someone noticed that I always had candy in my
locker and asked for a piece. "No problem" I
But for some reason,
people started asking. Well, I figured, since I had the goods
and they had the cravings, I started charging a nickel a
piece. They gladly forked over the cash! Before I knew it,
I had my
own little "Black Market" going on at Main Street
fools" I thought. They could easily walk across the
street to the Book Nook and buy their own! Either way, they
to buy and I was happy to sell.
Well like all good things,
it had to come to an end.
"No one told me you couldn't bring
to school!" Again, one of my brilliant, well rehearsed lines
to use if I ever got busted. But of course, somebody ratted
me out, I got busted, I used the line, it didn't work.. I spent
after school scraping gum from under desks. "Cursed!"
leaving the candy section, I turned towards the magazines.
This place used to have every cool magazine known to mankind!
If you're into trains, boats, beauty, music, airplanes, farm
life! You name it, they had it. Well, what do you know! They
still do today! Even more than I remember.
a close up look at the counter. This place carries everything!
TV Guides, pens, cigars, kid's toys...
I even found those classic cinnamon tooth
(Aint it great?)
even in a little town like Lisle, some stores had that little
magazine rack that was always well hidden behind the counter.
The pictures on the magazines were always covered to
not reveal the mysterious content located within their pages.
I guess I can talk about this today because what happened to
me was a big "first" in my life.And it happened to
me at The Book Nook! I was just a kid at the time... But any
guy, being from
Lisle or not, could relate.
I was probably nine or ten years old. I was
in the Book Nook looking at the baseball cards and then...
My life changed forever!
I happened to look over at a
small magazine rack behind the counter and focused on a
magazine that seemed to have a lady holding some sort of fruit.
But wait, that's not fruit. Is it a cookie of some sort? Is
roll? I stood there forever, in the middle of this busy store,
straining to look towards the magazine that was located in the,
still unknown to me, "forbidden
you figure it out! "THAT'S not a "cookie" at all!"
A sudden a flush
comes over your face.. The
eyes catch their first gimps.
The first gimps of a woman's boob!
Yup! Your sitting there looking directly at a magazine
behind the counter that has a woman showing her boob! I couldn't
believe what I was seeing! My eyes couldn't get back to my
baseball cards fast enough! Like all guys
I knew I had stumbled onto a major crossroads in my life! I
was time to quickly try to evaluate the unfamiliar flush of
emotions that I was suddenly experiencing.
boob?! What do I do now?! I shuttered. What if someone in the
Book Nook saw me... see the boob? "Oh
knew I had to pretend that nothing had happened. Should I get
I walk past and vow never to look in that direction
again? Should I ask for help?
Nope.. None of the above. I decided to stay cool, tried not
to shake, continue to look at my baseball cards.. And every
now and then, without moving
my head, grab a quick glimpse toward the forbidden"boob
to confirm my observation.
I had to go tell my friends.. And it had us talking and investigating
the rest of that summer. I knew this was serious stuff! I figured
if I'd told my mom I would have been grounded for twenty years!
So "mum" was the word.
here I was, so many years later, walking through the Book Nook
with my eyes looking at all the stuff.
And for old times sake, I had to sneak a glimpse towards the
forbidden zone... Like always, nothing was visible from
any of my vantage points.
They must have knew I was coming.
I went and stood towards the back of the store. I stayed there
and just watched and listened.
With every person, with every sound,
I was reminded of how
much this little store reflected what Lisle really was. This
place wasn't some "reality" TV show. It wasn't a
"formula" created by the village to reflect the Lisle "Image." No,
This place was real!
It has always felt like walking into a
real life "Norman Rockwell"
Just standing there, you hear the door squeak open...
Someone enters, someone leaves. You hear people talking. Asking
questions, commenting on the weather, giving their opinions.
The door squeaks open again...
great feature are those folks that actually work at the Book
Like Chris Bedore. He's the eldest of eight kids that
all grew up in Lisle. I understand he's been working there
for close to eight years. I hear that people come to the Book
Nook from everywhere just to hang out and talk with him about
"the horses" and any other deep philosophical topics that Chris
is so great at interpreting.
look at the guy behind the cash register today. Just watch
him! He is such the "patient
He's having a conversation with an old
about Lisle's trash pick-up. At the same time, he's
answering a question for a lady that needs to find a battery
for her watch.
He's also ringing up a purchase for a business man who's
in a hurry. He also finds time to find the right newspaper for
find it. In the other corner, there are three men using
the Book Nook as a meeting place. There talking and laughing
And look out side the store.. Someone just ran into
someone they hadn't seen in years. This steady pulse continues
at the Book Nook throughout the day. It
first became a town and it still continues today.
this day, I knew I wanted to visit the Book Nook. A place
we've all visited a million times. But if you walk through
that door and just open your senses, you'll realize that this
place is so much more than
store. It's like stepping into both
present. For me, It
was like standing directly in the "heart" of what Lisle is.
waited for a short lull in all the activity and went to say
hello to the guy behind the counter. His name was John Reeder.
him incredibly friendly and I wasn't
surprised to learn that he knew my brother from years ago!
Yeah, ya gotta love this town!
I told John that I was looking for
old photos of Lisle. He smiled at me and that is when the fun
began. John started walking me through the store and up to
photos of old Lisle he had on display. After spending just
a short time talking, I was so gratified to learn that John,
like myself, has an
incredible interest in Lisle's past and future. John couldn't
wait to show me some more old pictures he had acquired from
ol' timers he met at the store. He was like a
kid showing me how "cool" they were. In fact, many of John's
photos are now many of the photos you see
on this web
Oh, and did I mention that John now owns the Book Nook!
I loved most about John is his realization of what his store
to the town of Lisle. He is well aware that he is now the caretaker
of one of the only "treasures" left in Lisle. He works it as
a business and, even more so, feels the meaning of it's history.
I met John,
Lisle's Main Street School was in it's final stages of demolition.
John and I sat in front of the Book Nook
and looked across the street at what was left of one of the
town's real "classics." Both our hearts were a little
lower that day as we watched the bull dozers covering up much
the site with gravel. Almost like they were trying to cover
the evidence of a terrible crime before anyone had a chance
That night, I "acquired' a few bricks from the Main Street
School demolition site. These
but from THE Main Street School!
The next day, I went
back to the Book Nook and gave John a brick for his display
cabinet. I handed the brick to John and
what he did next let me know that he truly deserved to have
Like a new lotto winner, he took the brick in his hand and started
going up to to the customers in his store. He'd hold out
the brick and ask,
this is?" "Do you know what this is?"
The customers looked puzzled but curious. "THIS is a
brick from Main Street School!"
"The Main Street School!" he proclaimed!
At that point
I thought to myself,
this guy get's it! He really gets it! I'm not the only one
that feels this way. John really saw the
significance of a little red brick! Of a little "book
Of a little
town. And of spending time with people and listening to their
Book Nook represented more than just a place to buy a paper!
He knew the Book Nook was a part of a story. Our story!
"Yup," I thought. He was perfect for the job of care taking one
of Lisle's last treasures.
this day, I'll always remember the simple pleasure of "hanging
out" in front of the Book Nook. We'd ride our bikes "up
buy some "cards," maybe a "drumstick" and lean up against the
window sill and watch the town go by. The feel of "baseball
card gum" crumpling
in your mouth. The door squeaking open and closing next to
us.The train going through town. We thought this place would
here forever. I never thought I'd ever see it as such a "special"
The Book Nook's original owners in front of the store.
went to bed that night in the same old bedroom I had when I
was growing up. I laid there thinking about the day and how
it was to go "up town" again. Before she went to bed, my mom
opened my door, stuck her head in and said good night. At
that point, I thought about all the things in our lives that
we take for granted. And how we usually start to truly appreciate
them only after they're gone from our lives.
When I finally
closed my eyes, I could still hear my own son's voice thanking
me for buying him a toy airplane. I had bought him a
little toy airplane and a pack of baseball cards..
a final note to you:
If you ever want to know what Lisle really "feels" like?
Forget the Hyatt... Forget the Marriott. Just try stepping
Book Nook and let your senses do the rest. While it's still
final note to The Village of Lisle:
Please do not destroy, or allow someone to destroy, any
more of down town Lisle simply because you lack the creativity
you have work. There is a difference between "timeless" charm
and temporary "fashion."
A final note to The Book Nook:
Please! Never oil the hinges on that door!
welcome your comments, stories or pictures!