And, all the way at the bottom is the “about us” from my original Ray Boas, Bookseller website in 1995.
Cathy and I wish to share a new chapter in our lives! It all began on May 15, 2002 when we travelled to New Hampshire and Vermont for an anniversary celebration. We hadn’t taken a day off since February and needed this short trip to rejuvenate. What happened next is truly a miracle!
We visited our favorite bookstores and antique shops and ended up in the most idyllic town called Grafton in southeastern Vermont. The following day we ran into fellow booksellers at our favorite antique mall. As Cathy was sharing our frustration with the time commitment to an open shop, our friends shared some startling news — the husband was suffering from a serious illness. Their ten-year-plan was identical to ours but this illness brought about new challenges and a new plan. They reminded us that life is too short and if we would enjoy a slower pace in a less populated area, what could be better than Vermont???
We left the area with a new perspective and a new plan. We would return home, complete all of our unfinished house projects, and contact a realtor in Connecticut. At the same time we would research the areas of southeastern Vermont and southwestern New Hampshire to find a new location for our home and internet business.
We met with our Connecticut realtors at 3:00 p.m. on May 28, 2002. They made it quite clear that the average selling time for housing in our area was 12-18 months! The news was discouraging but we explained that we were leaving the next morning to look at properties in lower New Hampshire. They advised us not to buy anything but to focus on the location where we would want to live. I had already determined that the perfect area might be Walpole, New Hampshire. I had never been to Walpole but based on its’ notoriety in books as the quintessential New England Village and its’ location, central to all of New England, it might be the perfect area for our new home.
Cathy and I spent the first day looking at properties on our own. Cathy was discouraged initially until she saw a stately home on the Common in Walpole proper. It had a For Sale sign in the front yard, but for whatever reason it was not on our list of properties to visit. We were mesmerised by the village green! It consisted of nine pristine homes, three Churches, and a Town Hall. The house at 44 Elm just captured our hearts — it was truly something to write home about!
We met with our New Hampshire realtor that same afternoon and would travel with her the following day. She added the Walpole home to our list of properties. For whatever reason we just couldn’t stop thinking about the house on the green, it kept us awake most of the night. We hadn’t considered life on a green. Actually, we were looking for a remote area with acreage and views. On May 30th we travelled throughout Cheshire County. House after house had possibilities but either the location was right but the house was wrong or the other way around. No home was perfect until we arrived at 44 Elm in Walpole. It is an 1806 Georgian Colonial fully renovated. The owners raised four children in the home over 32 years and decided to downsize. The house is next to the Catholic Church, across the street is the Congregational Church, and two doors down is the Episcopal Church. Church bells could replace the sound of our waterfall! Every Sunday in the summer there are concerts on the green, Walpole is minutes from Vermont, a short drive to the White Mountains, and even relatively close to Maine and Montreal. It is just so accessible!
We left town with the intention of bidding on the house, Friday, May 31st. We arrived home late and I checked my emails and phone messages. I had ten messages on my answering machine. As I was walking away there just happened to be an eleventh message! It was from our realtor in Connecticut — he had a couple who wanted to see our house Friday morning. We stayed up until 2:00 a.m. cleaning and I woke up early to start the yard work at 6:00 a.m. The couple loved our home and we had an offer that afternoon! We hadn’t even had time to contact the New Hampshire realtor to pursue the bid on the Walpole home. We started that process Friday evening and by 11:00 p.m. we realized our dream! We expedited our ten-year-plan to enjoy a slower pace of life in a less populated area running our internet business!
We closed the shop in New Preston in July, 2002, and began packing and moving the house, shop and warehouse. By mid-October 2002 we were living in New Hampshire full time. Remember life is too short, we learned from our friends, and we do not regret this change. Thank you for reading “our miracle” story, yours, RAY
…when Cathy died, I was playing Grandpa in the play, YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU in Walpole. In April and May 2017, for River Theater in Charlestown, NH, I again was able to portray Grandpa. I had to do it for memories. I placed the above memorial ad in the program. Grandpa’s words and actions so closely reflect my philosophies, and how I live my life.
I mailed the below letter on May 26, 2008 to our out-of-town friends. Life is way too short, please relax and enjoy it. God Bless, yours, RAY
It is with a great deal of sadness that I am writing this letter. On Tuesday, May 13th, Cathy died in a car accident along with our Westies, Heather and Lilliput. We spent Mother’s Day weekend with her parents in Florida, and arrived home late Monday the 12th. On Tuesday she picked up the dogs from boarding and grooming (they loved a ride in the car in their crates) but never made it home. The details (which I really do not know) do not matter, but I have gotten comfort in believing she was gone before the impact.
You may recall the wonderful story of our move to New Hampshire, inspired by a couple who experiencing failing health said, “if you have a long range plan, do it now, life is too short.” We reacted immediately and within two weeks our new adventure was on its way. Then Cathy’s health issues began, but each was conquered in turn, and she was fine and full of life, but our friends were right.
We arrived in Walpole Episcopalians, but stopped at the first church next door (there are 4 within sight of our home) and never got further. We became Catholics, and Cathy was very much in love with and comfortable with her faith. Cathy had a beautiful devotion to Mary, and loved her very much. You may not know Cathy’s given name is Mary Catherine, but you do know she is probably the best Christian you will ever meet. The day Cathy died is a special day. Starting May 13, 1917, three Portuguese children received apparitions of Our Lady near Fatima in Portugal. In 1930 this day was added to the Church calendar as a holy day, and if one dies on May 13th you go directly to Mary’s side in heaven.
Since Cathy’s death there have been many miracles that have occurred, far more than one page can hold. When our priest came to discuss arrangements with me, Cathy’s close friend, and my step-mother, I suddenly was overpowered by the scent of roses. I knew what it meant, no one else experienced it, and Father Michael confirmed that Mary indeed visited me to assure me that Cathy was safe and happy with her. Succeeding events will fill a long article, each event a sign from Mary that this was God’s will. In reflection, many, many things that Cathy did and said in the past weeks and months confirm to me that she knew what was coming, and while in Florida she told her parents many times that she was happy, and could die in peace at anytime.
We are all truly blessed to have known Cathy, and the recent outpourings only confirm that she truly made an impact on everyone she met, and her enthusiasm for life and her faith will live on in the memories of all who knew her.
I share Cathy’s faith, and this has enabled me to endure this sad tragedy. Keep Cathy in your prayers, Bless Cathy!
Tearfully with love, RAY
Monday, July 7, 2008. It has been a very long and sad time since I have written anything on this page or posted any “new arrivals” or “back in stocks,” but today I felt I better get back to it. I also am now getting to the hundreds of thank you notes I wish to send, and decided that I had so much to say to everyone that I would also write a letter to include with my notes. A few “new arrivals” are below with some “back in stocks,” but first I thought I would also share this letter with you. Thank you for visiting, yours, RAY
It is hard to believe that we lost our Cathy two months ago. I have gotten through to this point thanks to my Faith in God and with my involvement with the Walpole Players in my role as “Grandpa” in the production of “You Can’t Take it With You” which finished the end of June. But now the realization is hitting me that Cathy will not be coming down the driveway with Heather and Lilliput. We don’t know why Cathy was taken from us at this time, but it is part of God’s plan. I believe He sends us messages and guidance. It is up to us to be aware of, listen, and take those messages to heart.
Our move to Walpole in 2002 was in response to our meeting friends who had a live changing health problem. Their long-range retirement plans were changed, and they advised us that “life is too short, do it now.” Cathy and I looked at each other, and without saying a word knew that we were going to move; and, within two weeks we had a contract on our Walpole home and new life. That made all the difference for us. Life was wonderful, we relaxed, enjoyed our home, our surroundings, our friends and acquaintances, our hobbies and interests, and intensified our faith in God.
In retrospect, God was preparing us for Cathy’s passing. She told her parents that she was at peace and ready to die. Many things she did, and letters she wrote this year were acts of closure; and, there was a great peace the last week of her life. A friend told me that the closer to God you are, the more you sense your coming death. And, Cathy’s Uncle told me that God calls you home when he knows that “you get it.” Even the selection of the play this year, and my the role as “Grandpa” I see as a sign and message from above. Martin Vanderhof “Grandpa” knew what was important and emphasizes the point, “life is pretty simple if you just relax.” As we learned from our friends, “if you have a long range plan, do it now, life is too short.”
The message on the cards I have received and written notes so well describe Cathy. Some card messages include: “What a beautiful difference one life can make,” “only a life lived for others is worth living – Albert Einstein,” ‘there are some who bring on light so great to the world that even after they are gone the light remains.” Her first boss wrote that her “coworkers memory of her is simply the nicest person you would ever want to meet.” A neighbor wrote, “Cathy touched many lives, she had a positive impact on ours in many ways, her warmth, openness and optimistic attitude lifted our spirits whenever we ran into her.” A friend we did shows with in Pennsylvania remembers her “brightening the room with her presence.” And a long-time book friend in Connecticut closed his letter, “so remarkable, so likeable, so vibrant, so gone.”
I do not know what God has planned for me next, but I pray that I can just do half the good that Cathy has done here on earth, and now continues to do above for Mary and God. We love and miss her so much. Relax and have faith.
Tearfully with love and memories, yours, RAY
In this world of mail-order, and emails, one often wonders who is at the other end.
Thank you for visiting,
I trace my interest in books back to age six, when my Grandfather introduced me to collecting United States Commemorative Stamps. What followed was an interest in US history, especially that found in books, and I began “collecting” a few old books. At that time it was still safe to ride my bicycle to antique shops on US 7 in my home town of Wilton, Connecticut. When I was twelve I won a letterpress printing press, began a printing business, and also set up a photographic darkroom. These two areas of interest facilitated learning about books, and provided background for local history books I published in the 1980s.
From my experience I have learned that booksellers never start out as booksellers, we all get there from somewhere else. In my case, I spent twenty-two years in the US Navy, Supply Corps (the business end of the Navy) before my retirement in January, 1990. Ten years before, in 1980, I began buying and selling Business and Financial Histories and Biographies to the collectors of antique stocks and bonds. I soon discovered I had a “knack” for finding good books, and then finding the “right home” for those books. When I retired, I opened my first bookshop in Haddonfield, New Jersey. It was a decision I will never regret. During the first five years I worked hard acquiring my stock, learning the business, doing innumerable shows, opened a second shop and sold books in several malls.
Cathy and I met in 1993 and married in 1995. Cathy had worked for over fifteen years in sales and marketing in corporate America, and was starting to experience that “corporate burnout.” She was one of the top sales representatives at Lotus Development Corporation. Shortly after we married, we had an opportunity to move back to my home state of Connecticut moving the shop, and our home into a unique “old mill” property. On September 1, 1995, Ray Boas, Bookseller, officially opened in New Preston, Connecticut.
At about the same time the “Internet Revolution” began to take off, particularly for the book business. We were part of the early development, and it changed how we do business. I no longer travel to book shows, yet we still work seven days a week. We now catalog books for uploading to our various websites, and communicate with customers from all over the world. We are truly blessed to live and work under the same roof doing what we enjoy. Our exceptional “miracle story” happened in 2002, when we relocated to Walpole, New Hampshire.
We derive satisfaction from “getting the right book to the right person, ” and we know our books have brought pleasure to countless thousands. It makes it all worthwhile! Thank you for taking the time to read “about us”.
Lord! when you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve
ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life.
Love and friendship and humor and ships at sea by night —
there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean.
From “Parnassus on Wheels” by Christopher Morley