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Farewell gentle spirit…

Pat Wade of the SF Chronicle
Pat Wade of the SF Chronicle

Good morning, Netizens...

One of the truly gentle spirits of Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue has died, and with her, a part of me also has gone. This picture, taken by Pat Wade of the SF Chronicle does her justice I think.

Patricia Cody, the quiet but passionate co-founder of Cody's Bookstore, one of Berkeley's preeminent bookstores on Telegraph Avenue, died Thursday at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland of heart failure. She was 87. Although Cody's has been closed for several years, I could never forget Patricia Cody and her husband, Fred Cody. They had a bookstore that spoke to me. Whenever I would pull out of Berkeley in my truck, heading to points unknown, between Cody's and Moe's Bookstore, nearly across Telegraph Avenue from one another, I always had a ready supply of reading material stashed away in various places in my truck. Matters got even worse when I began working at Moe's Bookstore because then I had the best access to books that anyone could ask for.

If it were not for Patricia's unswerving dedication to maintaining the books and inventory, I am relatively certain Cody's would have gone out of business long before its time. Always known for its outrageous political and artistic inventory, still you never knew who you would meet there. Some of the literary luminaries of my time held readings there; Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti to name two of my personal favorites.

The Codys sold the business in 1977, and the famed bookstore closed in 2008, a victim of Internet sales and discount book offerings at chain stores. But in its heyday, Cody's was a staple of Bay Area literary life and a beloved community gathering spot. In the raucous heydays of Berkley, during the 70's riots, both it and Moes became safe havens for folks who wanted no part of the violence sweeping through the streets. One young man died of a gunshot wound atop Cody's. His only crime was watching the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and the National Guard tossing teargas as the people below on the street.

Moe's Bookstore still exists on Telegraph Avenue, thank goodness, but the co-founder and most gentle creature ever to grace Cody's is no longer with us, and I rue her passage.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.