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Thursday, May 7, 2009

HOM: Jerry

Jerry Knutson was a few years older than I, a transplanted North Dakotan from Fargo who came here via California. He had a massive background in books and the book business. He was a little shorter than I, but heavier, and was blessed as a kid with the nickname "Tiny" as a result of shooting up to his adult physique by the time he was in his early teens. As a kid, he'd worked on the railroad repairing track. His wife, Barbara, was another bookaholic, and worked at the county library till she retired a few years ago. Jerry was a cool guy and I liked him a lot. He had a whimsical side that was pretty entertaining -- two of his favorite book TITLES were "A Great Big Ugly Man Came And Tied His Horse To Me" and "Fargo North, Decoder". Another was "Dig The Nigger Up--Let's Kill Him Again". Note: It was the titles that caught his funnybone, NOT the books. His reading taste was very similar to mine, an eclectic mix of suspense and mystery and fantasy and westerns. His humor and enjoyment of puns and plays on words also paralleled mine. He did have his moments though. When he was at Books West, they put a bell on the front counter for whoever was tending it to ring if they needed help. One afternoon Jerry was up there and swamped in people, so he rang the bell. Carlanne, the owner, and Joanne, the other employee, were engrossed in a conversation in the back room and ignored it. He rang it again, harder. No response. Third time, harder still. Ditto. He excused himself, stalked over, stuck his head into the back room, and yelled "DING!" at top volume. Ten seconds later both Carlanne and Joanne were up at the front and helping him with customers. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)