Sunday, October 21, 2012


There are places that are so special their memory remains vivid even after they are gone. One of these place for me is the Franz Bader Bookstore. A store I was privileged to work in on Saturdays for several years in the mid 1990s.  My friend Cynthia worked at the store during the week and she recommended me for the Saturday position.

The book store specialized in art, architecture and design books with a small German language section (a section near and dear to my German husband's heart.)  The owners, Sabine and Richard Yanul, were warm and welcoming.  Stepping into the store was like stepping into their living room. Of course books were everywhere but so were fabulous items they had found in a lifetime of collecting: the 1934 New York World's Fair plaque by the front door, the Eames chair to sit in while flipping through a perspective purchase, the art deco cigarette stand masquerading as a business card holder and the rotary dial Bakelite phone, to name a few.

A section header from Franz Bader

Sabine was the heart of the store imbuing it with her impeccable sense of style. She fussed over the window displays and constantly re-organized shelves to highlight different titles.  At Christmas time, my favorite time of year in the shop, she went all out with the decorations.   She loved stocking the old style Advent calendars smothered in glitter she remembered fondly from her childhood in Germany. Customers adored her and every Saturday regulars came in to talk to Sabine or to go in the back for philosophical discussions  with Richard.  She had the talent to be helpful without being overbearing and she had an encyclopedic knowledge of art and design books currently in print as well as those out of print.

A few books purchased at Franz Bader

Sabine  treated her staff as family and we adored her, coming back regularly long after we had moved on to other careers. I left the Saturday job to take weekend book conservation classes.  After class I sometimes came back to the store to catch-up with Sabine and Richard. I brought both of my newborns by the shop to show them off.  When the shop closed in 2008 Sabine called to offer me the wooden flat files for my new bookbinding business.  The furniture was all gone and Sabine, Richard and another former employee and I sat in the now empty store.

I kept in touch with Sabine over the next four years, not as often as I would have liked, but as much as a mother of two small children could manage.  We met at art galleries, enjoying new shows. The last time I saw her was two years ago at the Yves Klein exhibit at the Hirshhorn.  We had a long lunch and took our time viewing the show.  It was a lovely day.

Last week I received the news that Sabine passed away after a brief illness.  The news was inconceivable.  How could someone so full of life depart so quickly?  Given that her Mother is still alive, I thought we had years and years of lunches and exhibits ahead of us.  Ruhe in Frieden Sabine. Ich werde Dich in guter Freundschaft immer in Erinnerung behalten.

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