A few days ago I was wrapping a small gift for a man at the gallery. While his wife continued to browse, he stood at the counter and watched me as I folded the paper and taped it that neither cut edges nor tape showed. He commented on my technique and asked if I did origami. I told him that I had and love it and a Japanese style of gift wrapping – folding and securing without tape. He just nodded and smiled.
Before leaving with his wife, the man came up to me and asked if I had read, My Grandfather’s Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. I told him that I had not. He told me that he felt I needed to read it – or at least read the story about the origami cranes. I asked it was the Sadako Sasaki story about folding 1,000 cranes for a wish to come true or the wish of long life for someone with cancer. The man told me it was about a Japanese doctor who folds cranes before surgery and that he felt I needed to read it.
I thanked him and told him that I would search for the book, but it was the reminder of the story that was important for me – reminded me of volunteering for hospice and Ann Haney. Ann started the Breast Cancer Recovery Foundation and years ago she hired me to be the on-site caterer for their Infinite Boundaries retreat. I remember that the retreat space on Madeline Island with origami cranes. Ann shared the origami crane story with me.
A couple of days later I was thinking about the book. Maybe there would be a copy at Virgin Goods, which carries both new and used books. It’s a little gem of a store “on the road to Zion” that is fun to check out what’s new, old, and odd. I used their Facebook page to inquire about My Grandfather’s Blessings and got a response that she (the owner) would check as soon as she opened the store.
Feeling the need for a break from irrigating, I decided to go to the bookstore and see if Lee, the owner found it. Although she didn’t find that book, she was searching the shelves for another book I might be interested in. While she looked through the non-fiction books, I told her I was going to check out the children’s books. Well, I skimmed through those, which led me to the “rare and old” books cabinet, which led me to the box of old LP’s, then the jewelry, the Harley Davidson books, and to my favorite sections – cookbooks and sewing.
While on this treasure hunt for a book, I realized that I didn’t know much about the store, so I asked Lee a few questions and found some interesting history about her and the building. It was built in the 1940’s as the Mohawk Cafe, a roadhouse on the route to Zion with a motel behind it. The cafe and bar burned down sometime in the 40’s and was rebuilt. In 1988 Lee started leasing the building as her workshop. I was surprised to find out that she was a carpenter, which made me laugh because southern Utah is filled with women who can build, lay brick, sew, bake, quilt, etc. – and they aren’t all Mormons!
It was in 1996 that Lee opened as Virgin Goods, where she sold furniture, antiques, local art, and imported clothing. She has a funny story about a man looking for door knockers, but that’s for her to share. Now she owns the building and Virgin Goods has become a bookstore specializing in used, rare, and locally authored books. Over the past few months I have purchased a few cookbooks and a wonderful old book, Vogue Sewing, which helped me with a recent project to create a pattern for a men’s shirt.
Once I got past flicking through record albums and original artwork and prints from collector’s books, I moved on to local art and jewelry. One set of Lapis and yellow glass earrings caught my attention with “Maiden Utah” on it. I laughed and asked Lee who the maiden was. Of course, it was her. With my interest focused on the jewelry, she pulled out trays and dishes with Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and locally made pieces on them. She showed me the beautiful Zuni pendant with the inlaid pieces, the Navajo beaded necklace, and story rings by Rock Art Jewelry by a local artist, Roger Fuller.
I could have spent a lot more time there, but the watering and weeding of my garden was calling to me. This spur-of-the-moment field trip in Virgin was a great break for me. Although the book wasn’t there, I did see Transitions, a poetry collection by my 92-year-old friend, LaBerta Altermatt on display in the front of the store. The origami “sign” took me to Virgin Goods where I learned a little more about the area and owner, Lee. Seeing the book, Transitions was another “sign” confirming my need to connect with LaBerta, which I did the next day.
Virgin Goods bookstore is located “on the road to Zion” if you are coming from St. George, Las Vegas, or anywhere from the west side of Zion National Park. The address is 2 E. State Road 9, sharing the building with the community post office. The phone number is 435.645.7730, and Facebook page is Virgin Goods. The hours of operation are: Wednesday: 9:00 am-6:00 pm, Thursday: 10:00 am-6:00 pm, and Fridays & Saturdays: 9:00 am-6:00 pm. If you are on your way to Zion National Park, it’s a great place to stop and pick up a book on hiking, rock climbing, camping, rattlesnakes, or something by Edward Abbey to help you enjoy your Zion experience even more.