Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Mystery of Loome Theological Booksellers

The amazing coincidences I encountered during a recent book buy are too mysterious to keep to myself and speak to the longevity of the printed word.

We were called by the chaplain of an Alzheimer's ward to purchase some Catholic Encyclopedias that belonged to a deceased priest.  Upon arrival, I began leafing through the encyclopedia volumes, checking for damage and defects, while talking with the chaplain.  He had only found out about Loome Theological Booksellers recently from a seminarian who was volunteering for him last year.  Then I told him, "ah, but the priest who used to own these encyclopedias knew about us long ago."  "How's that?" the chaplain asked.

I gave to the chaplain what I had just found in the volume I was leafing through.  It was an envelope with a postage date of 1989 and a return address of "Loome Theological Booksellers, Thomas & Karen Loome."  The envelope was hand addressed to the deceased priest.  Inside the envelope was a classic "May we purchase your unwanted Catholic books?" letter, a brochure about the business, and three newspaper articles about Thomas and Karen from 1984.  Written in the letter was "We are interested especially in . . . sets of the old Catholic Encyclopedia as well as of the New Catholic Encyclopedia." I pointed this out to the chaplain since these were the sets I was explicitly asked to purchase!  Only, it took the priest over 20 years to sell them to us, and then only after he died (may he rest in peace).

This priest kept a single letter written to him over 20 years ago.  If it was an email, I bet it would have been deleted and I surely wouldn't have "found" it when purchasing his books.  This letter speaks to the longevity of the printed word as well as the oddly unique "success" of Thomas Loome's solicitation letter sent over 20 years ago.

This is one of many episodes to come of the Mystery of Loome Theological Booksellers, a bookstore larger than the sum of its owners and staff.

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