Fifty-seven years ago today, lil' neonate Tom Congalton, proprietor and grand panjandrum of Between the Covers books in Gloucester City, NJ, emerged from the darkness into the light; his mom was overjoyed. Tom was, too: he'd outgrown the sublet he called home for the prior nine months, and he needed the light to read.
He then bided his time, twiddling his thumbs until he met Heidi, who would become his wife, and, later, co-founder with him in 1985 of Between the Covers, a name that, at one and the same time, celebrated books and, unintentionally, the Congaltons' conjugal status. What's in a name? The business has thrived and Tom and Heidi are still married. We shudder to think what would have happened if business had been named Down the Tubes.
After twenty-five years as a bookseller, Tom has become one of the trade's most respected and liked members. His knowledge of modern firsts is encyclopedic, and he has served the ABAA well in many capacities for many years.
Let us now take a moment of silence in quiet celebration of a man and a career. I'm referring to master chef, Mario Batali, who was also born on September 9, as was KFC's Col. Sanders. Today's Birthday Blue Plate Special: Fried Chicken Cacciatore al Congalton. Boun appetito, Tom! And many more birthday meals to come, please.
N.B. to T.C.: Be careful what you expect!