In memory of Carroll H. Dunham and the bookstore he ran
By Abby Hafer
Dunham’s’ bookstore made Bedford a much richer place. Throughout the time that I was growing up in Bedford, Dunham’s bookstore was both a refuge and a resource of unparalleled worth. It was far better than the chain bookstores available at the time, both in quality of offerings and in price as well. Known to historians as Bedford’s antiquarian bookstore, and to kids as the place where you could buy second hand comics, Dunham’s was the go-to place for great reading material.
As a voracious teen reader, I could happily pick up a stack of serious literature for summer reading at Dunham’s, content in the knowledge that I could read them after work (or in one peculiar place of employment, during work), while on backpacking trips, or at any other time, and not have to worry about getting them back to the library. I read everything from Fyodor Dostoyevsky to Farley Mowat, courtesy of Dunham’s Bookstore. How I got all those stacks of books home on my bicycle, I’m not quite sure. I did all this without breaking my meager teenage budget, too.
Whole shelves in Dunham’s could be found devoted to esoteric cookbooks, or to a wide range of Romance novels. As an adult, I brought a friend who dealt in rare books on exploration to Dunham’s, and he wound up picking up a first edition by Admiral Peary while he was there. What other place could offer you such an abundance of riches all under one roof?
Of course, Mr. Dunham knew where to find every book. He pleasantly discouraged children from reading comics without buying them, and could give you advice if you needed it, but was also content to let a person peruse books and come to their own decisions, even if this took a considerable amount of time. Bedford became much poorer when Dunham’s bookstore closed, and is poorer still with Carroll Dunham’s passing.