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Willie's Bookshop in the Baltimore Block (Photo by Curly)


Willie's Books located in "The Block" in Baltimore. Clarence B. "Curly" Garrett took this photograph of Willie's in 1966. It was cropped at the shop, but I can not verify if it was used in the paper, or papers actually. The Baltimore Sun is often known as "The Sunpapers" as they publish a handful of regional editions and websites covering the enormous Baltimore market.

Curly Garrett was was trained as a photographer at the Eastman Kodak Photography School in the Navy after serving as "Photographer Mate" on an aircraft carrier in 1944. After the war, he went to work at the Baltimore Sun where took magnificent pictures for 40 years. A native of South Carolina, and the son of a preacher, Curly was of my father's generation. Unlike the sleazeballs who ran the shop he snapped here, he was by all accounts a gentleman who served with distinction and left a significant body of work. Curly had a few photos run in Life Magazine and Sports Illustrated, and he also won some regional awards. Interestingly, they same week Curly passed away, the Baltimore Sun announced they were putting their web content behind a pay wall. I much prefer the notion of Curly's work being printed on newsprint, then bundled and dropped on street corners for newsstands and rolled up in the morning by sleepy paperboys than being digitized on a website for which I have to sign in and provide a credit card number, but progress in progress.

I can't find much of anything about the bookstore here, or why Curly was sent to take a picture of it. It was located in "The Block" which was, and is, Baltimore's adult district. In fact, when I search the phrases which might tell me about the shop, Google thoughtfully provides an ad to the Hustler club there now!

The photo is dated 1966, right smack dab in the middle of the time period I write about here, so it is a gem. It appears "Willie's" bookstore was textbook smut. "Official Nudist Mags" (Official?) "Art Photos & Film" (Art?) "Girlie Mags" and more. This was taken years before smut shops went hardcore and moved to converted gas stations out by the highway exit. In 1966, the most on display here was probably cheesecake, but if you asked you might be shown some of the good stuff. They don't even have peepshows.


A remarkable relic. I don't think Curly would have ranked it among his best work, but it means plenty to me.


Original Press Photograph, Embellished with hand-painted crop marks. Photo by Clarence B. Garrett, 1966 The Sunpapers. Collection Victor Minx.