Silkwood Tribute

The Wayshelter and its guests say goodbye to a wonderful place and wish owner Linda Pancoast well.

To see pictures of the store, click here.

To read a few words from Linda Pancoast and see the "Where to Go" listing for the store, click here.

If you have any memories or comments to share with other guests at The Wayshelter, please e-mail me by using the envelope link below, and I'll post those thoughts here. It would be helpful if you typed "Silkwood Tribute" in the subject line. If you don't have e-mail but would still like to contribute, you can send your comments to:
Silkwood Tribute c/o The Rochester BF Connection
P.O. Box 60698
Rochester, New York 14606

This is so sad!!! Another Monroe Ave. store you never thought you'd see go belly up :( Started with Mission Cafe then Coop now Silkwood... Wonder if this is the same problem they had in Midtown???

Silkwood enabled me to post brochures and find recovery books I was never able to find, plus lots of great bumperstickers over the years :) and Linda was very supportive of me over the years, too. This is a very sad state of affairs & I plan to wear black & I'm not kidding.

Kerry - sent 5/11/00

Let me guess: The closing of the shop is due to an increase in rent. That's what's happening to every other shop that's been closing on the Ave. Much of the property is owned by the same businessman. This is an unspeakable evil. I don't understand why those who own the property would try to drive away all the other business, killing the neighborhood that is my home. Perhaps they believe that a street full of empty shops would make their businesses appear more inviting.

We need some way to send the message to the those that own the Monroe Ave. property that we do not approve of what they are doing... not that they care what we think.

As you can probably tell, I'm a little disturbed by what's happening to the Ave.

bramble - sent 5/25/00

Note: This message and the one above were sent before Linda's comments were posted. The closing of Silkwood was not due to a rent increase. For more on the reasons for the closing of the store, please click here.

I worked 4, then 3 hours a week at Silkwood, on either Thursday or Friday evenings, from 1987 until a couple of years ago. It was one of the first places I encountered upon moving to Rochester that became "home" for me. It was absolutely the first time in my life I ever had a job offered to me, without me even asking for it. (I was practically living in the store at the time, so I guess Linda figured she may as well put me on the payroll, give me the keys, and go home.)

It was a refuge. I would come in on a Friday evening, stressed out from a week of Home Health Caring, too tired to want to do anything but go take a nap, and within an hour I would be rejuvenated; from the music, the atmosphere, the wonderful conversations with customers, and the inspiration I received from the books I would pick up almost at random.

Linda truly has a gift for ordering books. Over and over again customers remarked that it was wonderful to be able to pick up any book in the store and have something in their hands intriguing and worthwhile. I suspect that, in addition to the loyal core of customers, one reason Silkwood was able to make it long after a lot of other small bookstores folded was because Linda was able to pick out books so well. She was able to keep an unbelievably small stock and to keep it all moving. She knew well ahead of me what it was that I was going to want to read, what was going to enrich my life (and the lives of a lot of others). She disclaims this suspiciously precognative ability, however. ("I just order what I like." "But HOW do you know what you're gonna like before you read it?" Those book catalogues don't tell you diddly squat, in my opinion.)

On more than one slow night, I sat alone in the store weeping over some profound and deeply personal insight I had just had as a result of something I had read in one of those books. I always wondered if the Universe kept away customers at those times, or if my weeping scared them away! (Sorry about that, Linda. I tried to make up for it at other times by smiling brightly at the street.)

(Sometimes I smiled brightly while weeping. None of this seemed to greatly impress the people on the sidewalk, however.)

There is one anecdote I have to relate, for those of you who haven't heard it.

I was sitting in the store, long after closing, sobbing (with the lights out, Linda) as I read a life-bending book by a certain therapist. I flipped to the back to see how I could contact the author. There was a crisis hotline number in San Francisco listed in the back of the book. I copied it, raced home, and called. I got a machine. Of course. It was 10:30 on a Friday night. Duh. After hours even on the west coast.

So the whole message of these books is how the Universe provides, and I felt I needed something RIGHT THEN, so where the heck was it? All weekend I waited impatiently for an answer. I was going to burst or melt down, or something. Finally, on Monday, a call came, giving me a number for a "local" crisis network. It was in Syracuse.

I called this number. Left a message. Waited very impatiently. Finally talked to someone there who started to make arrangements with me, and then they said, "Wait, there is someone in Rochester who is certified in this work, her name is Judy." With that, the person gave me the number of...Silkwood Books.

The moral of this story: what I needed truly was right there, just where I sat, when I first MENTALLY requested it. Since I didn't believe that, I had to go home and pay for calls to San Francisco and Syracuse first. In fact, a "sticky" note left on the desk in front of me would have sufficed.

Judy does good work in at least two other professions that I know of, besides Silkwood, for those of you who don't know.

And as for those books: I can truthfully say that I am a very different person today as a result of having read just the right, soul-softening, rough-personality-smoothing messages, at just the right times, over and over again. In addition, there is an added richness in my soul from all those wonderful conversations with Linda and Judy and the amazing customers who Linda's books attracted into our lives.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

With love, Lynn

Lynn Stephens - sent 6/23/00

The simple beauty and spirit of what was going on at Silkwood also attracted this middle-aged heterosexual male every so often, over these many years. I agree with another writer that Linda's book selection was quietly spectacular, however she accomplished it. And there was a feeling of open, honest helpfulness about the store. For me, it epitomized what a small business could be, of itself and toward its customers.

Often, I had not set out to visit the store, but in passing by, a happy rediscovery of the place would occur for me and draw me inside. Books specifically helpful to my situation at the time would almost fall off the shelf at me as I passed by, or so it seemed.

Perhaps it was in one of Silkwood's books that I first encountered the truth that, in duality, everything that begins also ends. It is interesting to watch this sense of loss I feel about Silkwood, and the Mission and others, while at the same time acknowledging my gratitude that such people as Linda Pancoast have manifested the flow of the Universe for a time and a season, and that we all benefitted in ways difficult to put into words.

With respect,


Bob Laird - sent 7/7/00

Another haven from the storm lost. Although I didn't shop at silkwood nearly enough, it was a holiday ritual to visit this wonderful store and pick out wonderful books for my friends and family. So far from the crowds at the mall, it made me feel something was right in the world. I always had lovely chats with Linda, and though I only stopped in once or twice a year, it seemed like I was a regular. I always bought a Sara Steele calendar along with the books. I wish you well, Linda. Your shop was a little jewel, and you will be ever so sadly missed.

- sent 7/9/00

Thank you, Silkwood!

On behalf of The Wayshelter, Silkwood's customers throughout the 18 year life of the bookstore, and the entire community, I'd like to extend thanks and well wishes to Linda Pancoast for her dedication and for providing such a great resource with so much love.

For many of us, Silkwood has been an important part of our personal history. The identity of our community and its members has been shaped by the presence of this store and the friendliness of both Linda and Judy Avery (whom customers during the early years of the store will also remember taking her turn sitting behind that familiar desk - Says Linda of Judy, "She has been involved from the first to the last day. A very grounded woman"). They will always be in our hearts.

For myself, I have to say I'm extremely grateful, considering that I came out not long after the store opened and began to be a customer not long after that. This made a major difference in the life of a high school Lesbian in search of connection and community. Silkwood was also the first place to accept my book for sale, making it possible for me to register it with the copyright office as a self-published work.

Silkwood has benefitted us all in so many ways and will be sorely missed. Linda, we all wish both you and Judy the very best in all your future endeavors!

Silkwood Bookstore's
last day of
business was
June 3, 2000.

The "Silkwood Tribute" is created and posted by The Wayshelter completely independently of Silkwood bookstore, with the exception of the information and comments Linda Pancoast herself provides. This page is not intended to appear as an "official" Silkwood site, but instead simply as a source of information and forum for people who will miss the store to recount fond memories and say "farewell".

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