There were a number of bookstores in the village. One was a few doors down from the drugstore run by the spinster sisters, across the street from the watch repair place and just up the street from the bakery. A much older man owned and ran the store and selected the merchandise. He wore glasses always and usually wore an older Woolrich gray plaid wool shirt and tan chino workpants. He was great, you could browse and read as long as you wanted, while he busied behind the counter piled high with books. Sometimes he sat in a chair and read one himself, as it wasn't really such a busy town or store. He had the interesting imported books like the Evergreen and New Directions series.
I bought a copy of this from him back in 1962 and I still had it on my bookshelf in Venice. The people who owned the cabin I stayed at used to know Dylan Thomas and he'd stay at their house when he was visiting in the area. These poets and writers and artists could become real for me, you see, once I realized they were real people and not just a name on a page. And in a way, it seemed to be a very small world. Like every artist knew or had a connection in some way to every other artist in the world. Or at least in our village.
I realize now that I say "Dylan Thomas" and as he's a poet, many people might not have heard of him. So I can now say, "The guy who Bob Dylan named himself after" and maybe people still know who Bob Dylan is, so there is a connection, you see.
To this day, if I were to be in Claremont, some people of my vintage would ask me (as if I would know) if so and so is the really the lovechild of Dylan Thomas, and I don't know.
There were also music teachers in abundance in town, and Frank started taking lessons in composition with one. So I'd see Frank sitting on the small chairs at Little Bridges for student recitals. Elsewhere, I'd have to listen to Shostakovich records (not my favorite), and hear a bit about Shoenberg's twelve-tones for composition (which was far too advanced for me to appreciate). And to show I knew something I'd talk about the records I was listening to in music appreciation class, and I thought Ferde Grofe was actually quite adept at painting a golden sunrise musically (which I did). But most of the time, you know, I was happy just to have Frank around and I'd just be happy as a bug in a rug to see him and my sister sitting together in the garage at the piano. And there was always a big basket of laundry on the pink washing machine near them. You won't believe this, but it's true, Frank helped us clean out the garage once and sweep up all the junk on the floor, and when he came out he was totally smudged in the face. He was nice, you see, he'd help us with some chores.