Monday, July 18, 2011

Best Bookstore Cat Ever!

How do you feel about bookstore (or any store) animals? Personally, I love them and go out of my way to a shop that has a companion. Today's blog, by Lelia Taylor, is about Hamilton.
Creatures ’n Crooks Bookshoppe was a genre bookstore, focusing on mystery, science fiction, fantasy and horror for all ages. We had a terrific time---not everybody gets to say they love to go to work every day---but, finally, the wretched economy and the unceasing competition from Amazon forced us to close the shop.
We had so many wonderful customers and, nearly two years later, I still hear from some. They always say how sorry they were when we closed and they have one most important question: How is Hamilton?
Hamilton, best bookstore cat ever! We adopted Hammie from the SPCA two weeks before the store opened. He was about three years old and had had his front claws removed, a good thing for a cat who would be around a lot of people, including kids, but the most appealing thing was his extrovert personality. We didn’t know it at the time but a Maine Coon is just about the friendliest cat there is and he proved it for the next 9+ years.
Hamilton would greet everybody who came into the store and follow them around, “supervising” their book choices. If a customer settled in one of our comfy chairs with a cup of tea or coffee, Hamilton joined her. Kids didn’t bother him much, no matter how much they shrieked and chased him and not once did we ever see him lash out; once he’d had enough, he would just go to one of his secret hiding places, so secret that there were times we couldn’t find him unless we rattled the treat bag.
Ham lived up to his name---no cat ever loved the camera more than he did. Several times, we had film crews in for commercials or for short features and Hamilton would always be front and center, even climbing ladders and bookshelves to be sure the cameramen didn’t miss him. He was a gorgeous kitty and seemed to know that the camera loved him. He would also pose for snapshots, especially when authors were visiting because, after all, no signing would be complete without Hammie on the table in the midst of books and cookies. He would even grudgingly allow us to put a Halloween costume on him just long enough to take a few pictures.
Then there were the dogs. Most cats like the dogs they live with but are very leery of strangers. Not Hamilton. Nothing made the big guy happier than to have a dog come by (we were in a dog-walking area) and he had his routine with a new visitor---follow him around to make sure he knew how to behave, do a lot of reciprocal sniffing and, if necessary, swat the dog’s nose with his clawless paws to make a point. They always got it and then the two would be BFFs.
Hammie lives with family friends now but I suspect he misses all his old friends and customers. We’ll be telling Hamilton stories for years to come.

Once upon a time, a mother and daughter went out to dinner for the mother's birthday. Over the course of this dinner, the subject of, "If you could own any business in the world, what would you choose?" came up. Without hesitation, a bookstore was the answer from both mother and daughter, and a momentous decision to follow that dream was made. Creatures ‘n Crooks Bookshoppe was born in Richmond, VA.
Years later, the bookstore is closed and Lelia Taylor spends most of her time reading books, reviewing books and talking about books, along with lots of guest bloggers, on Buried Under Books. You can find it at http://www.cncbooks.com/blog .

12 comments:

Steve Liskow said...

Ellis,
Our Ernie is a blond Maine Coon, and he's every bit as outgoing as Hamilton is. He also greets everyone who comes in (while his Himalayan half-sister Jewel hides under the bed), and he likes to help me edit my writing, usually by curling up on the computer desk where he can play with the keyboard.
And, like Hammie again, he has declawed front paws, which is how we found him in a shelter. Ernie is only three, but it sounds like he and Hamilton would be buddies from the get-go.

cncbooks said...

Steve, aren't Maine Coons just the best? I think you're right, they would be buddies since Ernie is also male---being a contrary sort of fellow, Hammie is completely comfortable with male cats and dogs of any size and gender but is sadly intimidated by female cats half his size ; )

Lelia

Nancy Adams said...

Hamilton is such a cutie! I grew up with cats and love bookshops that include furry company.

Thanks for sharing.

Ellis Vidler said...

A local florist has two cocker spaniels that are very sweet. I love cats in bookstores. They seem like a natural fit. I'd love to have met Hamilton when he was there.

cncbooks said...

Hamilton was quite the man about town, even being part of a Washington Post feature article once and DC is two hours away. I can't begin to tell you how many "customers" we had who only came to visit him and never bought a thing. I never minded that because I figured those people told all their friends about him and the store---he was the perfect public relations fuzzybutt ;)

Lelia

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Some years ago, a fascinating paranormal bookstore sported a beautiful black cat. I enjoyed the bookstore and the cat. In fact I even wrote a short story inspired by the experience entitled "Girl With One Green Eye and Cat" which appeared in the anthology Touched By Wonder and earned a Nebula Award nomination.

Polly said...

Great that Hamilton was so friendly. Our cat hides from himself. I've never known a more timid cat, but then he's a bit feral. My son, a vet, saved him from the Grim Reaper, but I guess whoever brought him in didn't catch him soon enough. He's beautiful and a sweetie, though, when it serves his purpose.

cncbooks said...

Polly, I have one at home like that. Sugar apparently believes the world is out to get her and no one but me has seen her in years. She's a great watchcat, though---heads for the closet or under my bed at the slightest unusual sound, like the guy next door stepping out his back door .

And kudos to you and your son for saving your kitty!

Lelia

heidi ruby miller said...

Hamilton is precious! :) What a nice story. Sorry to hear about Creatures 'n Crooks closing. I would have like to have met Hamilton in person.

cncbooks said...

Thank you, I wish people were still meeting Hamilton, too. The loss of so many independent bookstores these days also means fewer four-legged retail sales associates ;)

Lelia

cncbooks said...

Ellis, thank you for having me here. It's been fun to tell a few of the many stories about Hamilton ;)

Lelia

Ellis Vidler said...

Lelia,
I hope you'll come back with more Hamilton stories. You got a sweetie. Our cat was 23 when she died. She was another sweet one. Her owners put her out to keep one of her kittens. They thought she'd catch mice and be okay on her own. I guess she was okay--she found herself a place right away--with me, where she lived another 13 years.