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franklin county times

No time to read at a bookstore

By Staff
WORDS, WORDS, WORDS n Claiborne and Gennie Traweek have owned their bookstore in Quitman for nearly 40 years. Photo by Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
Sept. 9, 2001
QUITMAN Gennie Traweek loved to read and always thought it would be fun to own a bookstore.
When she and her husband, Claiborne, purchased bought a bookstore in Quitman in 1962, she thought she was set. However …
Located across the street from the post office, Traweek's Bookstore is an institution in Quitman offering everything from office supplies to picture framing to printing. And you can buy books there, too.
Side by side
The Traweeks are Clarke County natives. Claiborne was born in Desoto and Gennie in Quitman. Both served during World War II and were married while on leave.
After the war, Claiborne got into sales and the couple moved around a little, living in Jackson and later Meridian. They moved back to Quitman in the 1950s when Claiborne's father suffered a stroke.
For a time, Claiborne worked at the Quitman Knitting Mill. But it closed for a time and he was out of work. While he was in Meridian, looking for a job, he ran into a former co-worker.
Claiborne went to work for the National Jewelry Co. out of Louisiana. He worked for the company for 40 years, retiring in 1996.
This put him on the road most of the time as he serviced East Mississippi and parts of Alabama. He often thought of finding something else to do and coming off the road.
One day, the phone rang
The caller was Bob Covington, an attorney in Quitman. He was helping a family settle an estate. The husband, The Rev. V.G. Cliford, a longtime pastor of the Methodist Church in Quitman and the local scoutmaster for years, had died. He owned a small bookstore, and Covington knew Claiborne was looking for a way to get off the road.
They started negotiations and purchased the store, then known as the Methodist Bookstore. At the time, it was located in the building that now houses Quitman's town hall. The Traweeks moved to their current location on South Archusa in 1970.
Setting type by hand
Claiborne was involved in the bookstore, too. When he came home on the weekends, he did the printing orders that had come in during the week. He still uses the same press today that came with the store, a Chandler and Price model.
Far from today's presses driven by computers, each line must be set by hand with letters and spacers' he keeps in an old type tray. The machine is reminiscent of an old washing machine when it is in operation. Each card or envelop must be hand-fed into the machine.
While Claiborne is the master printer, Gennie has been drafted on occasion to run the printer.
Gennie remembered that when the store belonged to Rev. Cliford, his Boy Scouts earned merit badges learning to print on that machine.
Times change
The store is called a bookstore, but books are not its No. 1 item anymore, according to Gennie.
The store's business niche has changed over the years. The couple used to do more printing and sell more office supplies, but the big stores have taken a lot of that business away.
However, "If somebody in town gets in a bind, they say, Check at Traweek's because they have everything,'" Gennie laughed.
Gennie calls the store a livesaver for another reason.
For a long time, many students at Quitman High School got their first job at Traweek's. "We had a lot of good kids who came through and worked here," Claiborne said.
Right now, picture framing is bringing in a lot of business.
Off the road
Gennie ran the store until 1996 when she was diagnosed with cancer. Claiborne retired from his sales job and came home to take care of her.
She has had other health issues since, but appears to be on her way to a full recovery. With the help of longtime employee, Lisa Ivy, Claiborne has kept the business going until Gennie can come back.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.

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