Treasure House Books’ Treasure is Behind the Counter
Jim at Treasure House Books and Gifts in Old Town, Albuquerque
A bookstore can be old, dirty and or full of rats and people who love books will still go inside. Books have a power to draw people in the doors to thumb through rough edged pages, entice sniffs of ink and enchant us to take them home to our collections.
Once in a while, a bookstore’s charm isn’t in the pages it holds, but rather in the people who run it. Treasure House Books and Gifts in Old Town, Albuquerque, has a treasure behind the front counter. He’ll only give his name as Jim, but the 86-year-old owner and his son, John, have been in the book business for a long time. (And just for the record, the store is clean and well-cared for, unlike the metaphor above.)
“Have a question?” he asked. “I’ve read every book in this store. I can answer anything,” he said with a smile. He’s been selling books on New Mexico, the Southwest, native America, the Old West and Hispanic culture for 40 years in Old Town.
Jim claims he doesn’t have a story; he’s there to tell other people’s stories. He points to a recent photo on the wall of himself with a friend who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. “That’s Hiroshi Mayamura,” he said. “We call him Hershey. He was a prisoner of war for 28 months.”
Jim was in the military, too, but he easily changes the subject to a story Hershey told at a recent meeting about his wife of 67 years. “He said the main thing is to celebrate your anniversary every year. Go to the highest price place in town; order the highest price thing on the menu. He goes Thursday. She goes Friday.”
The narrow store holds book signings and loves visitors to Albuquerque’s Old Town area. Jim says he’ll stay there working until he can’t.
“I’ve met every goal I ever had but one,” he said. “My goal was to jump out of an airplane. I picked 92 as an age. In 2004 I got a magazine from National Geographic and I saw a guy who was 101 years old doing it. I want to go to 102. Just 102.”
Treasure House Books and Gifts is at 2012 South Plaza NW in Albuquerque.