Over the past few weeks several bloggers have referred to one of the leading soft-core stars of the fifties and sixties, Orrie Hitt. James Reasoner has even run letters from Hitt's daughter and tonight he reviews another Hitt title.
All this brings back memories of discovering soft core in the late fifties. The only shop that sold it locally also sold beat literature. Both were cool with me. Of course you could also buy racing forms there too.
A used bookstore opened around 1961. A endearingly whacked woman named Mrs. Miller ran it out of her living room. She crammed a lot of paperbacks into her shelf space. She sold everything, bestsellers, sf, mystery, romance. One wall was filled with what she called "zippy" books. I took my good friend Doug Humble there a few times and he thought we were in an alternate universe. Mrs. Miller was seriously overweight and had a heart condition. Yet she chain smoked Kools and chomped on chocolates constantly. She also never shut up. I can still see Doug's eyes filled with tears of laughter. He covered his ears with his hands a few times when she couldn't see him--mugging that he was losing his mind.
Any time a customer walked in when I was there she would good-naturedly point to me and say "You know what he likes? He likes them beatnik books and he likes them zippy books." Then she'd burst into painful cigarette laughter.
I bought dozens of books from her over the years, many Orrie Hitts among them. She was out of Dickens and I had this great crazed affection for her even though she drove me nuts.