On 18 January 2014 I dropped by Armchair Family Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and inspected its offerings. Remarkable, the survival of the improbable, that the store still exists in any sense. One writer, with a condescending tone, described the store as "boarded up," and that it's a place that used to "peddle" paperbacks. Well, Armchair never had windows in the first place, and it's still operating, if marginally. I first entered this establishment around 1979, and frequented it for many years after, although I had not been there in a very long while. Dave Smith, the bearded, expressive proprietor associated with the golden age of Armchair, long ago passed to the other side. I think of his arguments with his wife of those days, when he repeated her name in increasingly excited crescendos. I recall his invariant warnings about keeping kids away from underground comics. (This lecture occurred when a friend and I attempted to look at, or buy, Zap Comix or similar titles, kept among the frankincense pulp of Marvels and DCs, back issues of Playboys, Penthouses, Ouis, and Hustlers, National Lampoons in cramped confines behind Smith's perch, cash register, and counter.) The bookshelves wrapped around the counter, and lined along small back corridors, held a quirky stock of paperbacks and old magazines.
In more recent times, the repository maintained a vigorous trade in adult magazines, dvds, and videocassettes, apparently covering the entire "family" spectrum. On this last visit, the stock had withered to an offering of random paperbacks, National Geographics, and odd items, many of the shelves only partly filled. I picked up an Airmont Classics edition of Père Goriot and a few National Geographics from the 1960s.
But the bookstore survives, and the "Drink Hires" sign, and the attached Norman Bates house, just as when the world was created.
Armchair Family Bookstore
From the east side of Milwaukie Avenue
The eccentric Chuck would always speak of the tower in the distance, used (according to him) for training firefighters. The scene is close to Armchair.