On a picture perfect day in South Pasadena, the ‘Fabulous Four’ Founders of the Friends of South Pasadena Public Library Bookstore were honored with a new bronze plaque on the wall just outside of the bookstore on the second floor of the Library. The Fabulous Four are Dorothy Cohen, Bev Engler, Sally Swan and Margaret Wallace, who founded the bookstore in 1982 in its current location. Marina Khubesrian explained that even before 1982, the Fabulous Four had obtained free space in the basement of the South Pasadena Post Office where they solicited and picked up donated books and sorted them.
“It’s terrific that Dorothy Cohen, the City’s first female Mayor, and another founder Margaret Wallace, can be here today” said Khubesrian. “Along with Bev and Sally, they were prime movers in first developing the Bookstore policies and procedures and keeping all of the volunteers informed, trained and content.”
Through the years the Bookstore has sold phonograph records, cassettes, posters, jigsaw puzzles, CDs, DVDS, and oceans of books. Before they could be sold, of course, all of these items had to be sifted through, sorted, and priced. Khubesrian went on to say, “The Friends of the South Pasadena Library’s Bookstore has served as a model operation and the Founders were consulted when other Friends groups started their own shops at other Libraries.”
During its long, storied lifespan the Friends Bookstore has encouraged the donation of many fine items that have been added directly to the Library collection and they save the best of their new and nearly new donations for their annual Holiday Book Sales. The volunteers also conduct silent auctions and special sales.
Friends and family gathered to celebrate the long-running success of the 7 day per week, all volunteer bookstore which has raised about $1.2 million. Khubesrian closed her remarks saying, “Its success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the founders, the hundreds of volunteers who have staffed it, and the many generous donations of the community.”
Library Board of Trustees Vice President Andy Lippman was on hand to speak about the debt of gratitude the community owes to these four dedicated founders. Donna Potts, co-director of the Friends Bookstore Steering Committee spoke on behalf of the volunteers and thanked the founders for their inspiration and Diana Mahmud expressed gratitude on behalf of the city council and community.
LA Dodgers historian and lifelong South Pasadena resident, Mark Langill, in one of the most moving moments of the ceremony, surprised everyone when he spoke about coming to his first book sale at the library in the first grade and how special it was to pick out a special book to own. “The library has always been an important part of my life, including the Summer Reading Club as a kid” said Langill, “I bought a Dodger history book at the library as a first grader and it’s been my favorite book for the past 40 years. I read stories about those great Dodger players of the past and it was a thrill to meet them later when I began working at the ballpark. My favorite place to shop in town is the library book store because you never know what you’ll find and it’s always a bargain.” He then slowly pulled out of an envelope the very LA Dodgers book he had purchased long ago and caused more than a few eyes to go misty.
It was time for the big reveal so Dorothy Cohen and Margaret Wallace stepped up to thank everyone for the honor. They spoke about the many hours they had spent there and how it was always a labor of love. Wallace, clearly moved by the idea of their names being on a plaque, exclaimed, “who would have thought?” The two women, assisted by Khubesrian and Mahmud, pulled the covering down to reveal the shiny, new plaque. It reads “Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library Bookstore – Founded by Dorothy Cohen, Beverly Engler, Sally Swan and Margaret Wallace – Established 1982”. Cohen and Wallace hugged each other in celebration as they and all who gathered marveled at the sight. Although Swan and Engler are no longer with us, their spirit was certainly felt at that moment.
What a tremendous legacy these women have left for our children and our community. Thank you Fabulous Four Founders!