Carolyn Porter | What a Small, Small World
Read about re-meeting Shawna, the saleswoman who I bought Marcel's Letters from nearly 16 years ago.
Rose Mille, Stillwater, Minnesota, Reunion, Letters, Marcel's Letters, Carolyn Porter, Marcel Heuzé, Small World, handwritten letters, WWII
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The Bored Saleswoman

A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from a Stillwater shop owner named Michelle. A friend of hers told her about Marcel’s Letters. Her friend believed I must have purchased the letters in Michelle’s Main Street store. The confusion was understandable; Michelle took over the lease of Belle Époque, the store where I bought the letters just months after I purchased them. Michelle’s store, Rose Mille, occupied the space for the following ten years.

Despite the disappointing news I did not buy the letters in Michelle’s store, as we messaged back and forth she wondered if there still might be a connection:


As additional messages went back and forth, Michelle and I laughed at how small of a world it could be. The next morning, Michelle went to Valley Bookseller in Stillwater, bought a copy of Marcel’s Letters, and immediately began to read it.

I fretted how Michelle would react to the description of her daughter. It’s on page 37 if you want to take a look. Shawna was described as a “bored saleswoman.” But when Michelle read the passage she assured me she laughed out loud, because the description was perfect. Foot traffic in Belle Époque could be slow, and Shawna, who was only 21 at the time, was indeed often bored.

A week or so later I stopped by Michelle’s store (Rose Mille is now located on William Street in Stillwater) to say ‘hi.’ The shop is filled with upscale paper crafting supplies, spools of colorful ribbon, ornate Dresden trim, rainbows of crepe paper, and vintage home goods. Additional holiday decorations made the store a wonderland of delights. I loved Michelle’s positive, buoyant energy even more after meeting in person, and we quickly agreed we needed to have a book signing.

While promoting the event, we did not disclose the specific connection Michelle had to the story. We did that, in part, because she invited Shawna to the book signing, and she wanted the reveal to be a surprise for her.

The book signing event was this afternoon, and Shawna and I got to re-meet each other after nearly 16 years. She was amused to learn her connection to the book, and she, too, laughed and nodded when she heard she had been described as a “bored saleswoman.”


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