Buxton Village Books is by far, one of my favorite stops on Hatteras Island. Whenever I find myself wanting to step back in time to an island of yesteryear, all’s I have to do is enter through the door of this enchanting house of books.
Yes, it really is a house of books. Or should I say a kitchen of books ? Recently, I asked Gee Gee Rosell, owner of Buxton Village Books, if she would be willing to answer some questions for our readers. She quickly and excitedly, accepted. Of course, one the first questions I asked was about the building in which her charming book store is housed.
Q: Buxton Village Books, is housed in an old island home. By chance do you know anything about it’s history ?
A: The center two rooms were the detached summer kitchen of a home that burned down years ago. I’ve added the other rooms over the years as my business has grown, but tried to keep the island vernacular architecture in tact.
Q: How long has Buxton Village Books been in business and is it’s current location where it all began ?
A: I started Buxton Village Books in 1984, right here in this building. It was only two rooms then and today there are seven.
So now the questioning had turned to my favorite part of any house…or should I say “home”. The kitchen will always be what I consider to be the heart of it’s existence.
Q: Now most of us islanders love those old recipes that our Mothers and Grandmothers, passed down to us from generation to generation. They are as much a part of our heritage as our brogue or any other trait that makes us Kinnakeeters or Trenters. With that said, what books do you have cooking on those shelves that visitors, locals, and natives alike, can pick up and learn the culinary ways of Hatteras Island, past and present ?
A: “Kinnakeet Kitchens” is one of my favorites. The cover is a lovely painting by Denise Gaskins. Also “Outer Banks Cookbook” by Elizabeth Weigand. Elizabeth isn’t a local but she has done a great job of collecting Outer Banks recipes and the history behind them. Also, Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation, publishes a cookbook titled “Seasonings”. That has contributions from every
village…so it’s full of local food ways too.
Now Gee Gee isn’t a native. But from talking to her, it seems like she should be. I had wondered from where and when she came to this little sandbar. So I asked her…
Q: Where is Gee Gee Rosell originally from and how long have you been on the island ?
A: I moved to Hatteras the day after college graduation in 1974. I went to school at West Virginia University.
In 1974, I was seven years old. Probably playing pick up sticks on my Grandparents wrap around porch in Kinnakeet, when Gee Gee landed on our sandy soil. With all her years spent on Hatteras, there is one thing she has learned…island history. Being a history lover myself, I often stop by to see what is new on the book store’s shelves. I am never disappointed.
Q: You have a wide selection of local and state history, culture, and folk lore books. Would you mind giving our readers a run down of some of your favorite titles and their authors ?
A: There are so many ! So the first thing I’ll do is steer you to our website: http://www.buxtonvillagebooks.com, where you’ll find a complete list of local titles under “Hatteras Bookshelf”. Two authors you don’t want to miss are Charles Harry Whedbee and David Stick. Whedbee collected lore and legends during his time as a District Court Judge, in eastern North Carolina. He published 5 books in his lifetime. Stick wrote the definitive history of the Outer Banks in several volumes including a book of essays he edited “Outer Banks Reader”. An author still with us and carrying on the tradition is Kevin Duffus. His “Lost Light” is a great Civil War history centering on the Fresnel lens from the first Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. That just barely skims the surface. Go to our site and take a closer look.
Many times I have been searching through the titles at Buxton Village Books, when in walks a family or couple from as far away as Canada or as close as Manteo. How wonderful it is to see people from far and near, stopping by to learn about the people and culture of Hatteras Island. But often, more so than not, there is a cultural exchange and a friendship begins that will last through years of returned visits to this island bookstore.
Q: I bet Buxton Village Books, has had visitors from all over the world. Do you have any that left a lasting impression and if so, would you mind telling us a little bit about them ?
A: Last winter, Simon Winchester, was here doing research for his book “The Atlantic”. I’ve sold his books for years and love his travel writing. So it was a pleasure and a surprise to meet him. It never fails that an author I hold in high regard will come through the front door on the day I’m grubbing around under the building repairing the wiring ! It’s humbling to say the least to shake the hand of a world traveler when you have your wire cutters in your back pocket and dirt on your face.
Buxton Village Books, has found it’s place among the people of this island. On it’s shelves sits our stories. From ship wrecks, to Civil War heroes born and bred here, to islanders who remember through poetry and family legend…they are all waiting for you to read about them. So why not stop on by. Gee Gee will be waiting for you.