This past weekend I drove a friend from here in Milwaukee down to Chicago, so on the way back I decided to pop into a few rare book shops that showed up on my map. The best of these was just north of the city, in Evanston. George Ritzlin Antique Maps & Prints was located inside a brick shop on a pleasant little street, as these kinds of places often are.
I went inside and browsed around for a minute or two before Mary Ritzlin approached me, and I automatically tensed up (anyone who knows me knows that talking to people is never, ever my first choice). But her smile was sweet and her laugh infectious, so pretty soon we were chatting away about . . . well, about whatever. I don’t remember much except that her son had just put out his second collection of fantasy short stories written by heavy-metal musicians. I am not making this up – she had the books there!
George came up from the back of the store at that point, and once I told them that I was new to the industry and learning all I could (and showed that I wasn’t merely a hipster looking for maps with pictures of bearded men on them), they invited me to sit down on the couch. We talked for nearly an hour and a half, I think, and they were super cool people, friendly and fun, very smart, and well experienced in the rare book and map field. I loved hanging out with them and I plan to stop in next time I drive down to Chicago. If you can spare an hour next time you’re in the city, I suggest you do the same – you won’t regret it.