AtoZ Blog Challenge – K – Kroch’s and Brentano Bookstore


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Forgotten Chicago posted this photo on their Facebook page soon after I  finished my research on Kroch’s, and was writing the scene I have used for this post. I almost cried, I was that grateful. Researching the publishing business for Facing East led me to this piece of Chicago history-Kroch’s, a bookstore I remember well.

“In 1995, I was visiting Louisa and her family when Kroch’s & Brentano’s closed its doors. I made a special pilgrimage downtown to attend the final book signing they were having. The author was heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman who was promoting his autobiography, By George. I even remember the name of the employee, Hans Summers, who is credited with waiting on the final customer; I’ve always thought he would make a great premise for a short story.”
            “Why in the world did they close, the bookstore was a destination?”
            “Believe it or not, the ‘full service’ that Kroch’s prided themselves on could no longer compete with discount bookstores like Crown books that opened a few blocks north. That last night, I stood with a small group of people outside on the street like a group of mourners. There was an older woman who talked to us in a quiet, refined voice. She reminded me of Barbara Bush with her white hair and a double strand of pearls. I still remember most of what she said.”
             Katherine made her voice sound wispy. “My dears, we’re saying goodnight to a piece of Chicago history.” All of us nodded in agreement and murmured things like, “It’s such a shame.” From my new novel, Facing East

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
This entry was posted in AtoZ Blog Challenge April 2015 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to AtoZ Blog Challenge – K – Kroch’s and Brentano Bookstore

  1. Rosie Amber says:

    I naturally love book shops.

  2. noelleg44 says:

    I remember that bookstore. I hate it when pieces of history of a place go by the way.

  3. Miriam E. Thompson says:

    Wow. I wish this bookstore could remain open. Bookstores are a community treasure.

  4. Rebecca Douglass says:

    Nice. Doing historical research is hard work, but it’s a lot of fun, too. I in fact have certain eras that I am constantly researching–even though I am not writing anything in them (yet).

    Rebecca at The Ninja Librarian

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