The Captain's Veranda by Joe Sarno


I'm not sure how long there had been a number of book stores on the 400 block of clark Street, but I think we can certainly say there were there in the 1940's, and possibly going back to the 30's. At the time of this history there were four: THE ACME BOOK STORE, A.B.C. MAGAZINES & BOOKS, THE GALLERY, and WILLIAM OSTFELDT, BOOKSELLER. THE OSTFELDT store was on the east side of Clark, and had at least one predecessor, CORREY'S BOOKS. In the late 60's, or possibly early 70's, OSTFELDT moved South of the River, and eventually around the corner on Lake Street. It was replaced by VAHANS BOOKS, and later THE ATLANTIS BOOKSTORE. Id' like to tell a couple of stories about these last two and then get to the older stores.

VAHANS was owned by Mark Lully, who had frequented these stores as a collector bizarre ephemera. He had expressed to "Sam" La Chapelle, the co-owner of ACME, that had a hankering to open his own book store, catering to collectors of comics, magazines, movie posters and the like. Though this would be in direct competition to ACME (they carried old movie posters and comics, but not magazines), Sam had advised Mark it would be wise to open a store that began with the letter "A", like ACME, A.B.C. and A-1. Her logic was that when people loked through the yellow pages for used book stores they start calling at the top of the alphabet. Mark po-poed the idea, and to prove his point he opend up at the former OSTFELDT location he called the store VAHAN'S BOOKS ( by the way the story goes that they found money, comics and other stuff hidden under the floorboards and other places throughout the store). I have no idea where the name came from, he may have made it up, but it proved his point

Somewhere along the line VAHAN'S was changed to ATLANTIS BOOK STORE, and there may have been a change in ownership, or it may have been co-owned by then. Frank Craft had become involved with the store, as had Chuck Ager, both of whom would open THE VARIETY BOOK STORE on Western Avenue.

One very rainy weekday I had to go to A.B.C. to pick up 25 old copies of Liberty Magazine for a Nostalgia Emergency Kit I ws constructing for a ad agency. While there, despite the downpour, I thought I'd pay a quick visit to ATLANTIS. In the back of the store there was a doorway leading to the back storage room, and there was a waterfall behind it. The back rof had collapsed and the back room was floding while loads of collectibles were being turned into pulp. The flood had led to the closing of ATLANTIS, and later I often told the story that "I saw ATLANTIS sink into the sea".

By the way, Frank Craft would open a store on the southwest corner of Clark and Kinzie that was an outgowth of ATLANTIS and A.B.C., called COLLECTOR'S BOOK STORE. Frank had bought the entire inventory of A.B.C. (all four floors) and whatever was left at ATLANTIS to fill this store.

Please E-mail Joe with comments at:

Originally published in the C.B. WEEKLY (Comic Book Collectors Bulletin) Vol 3 #43 October 25, 2000 copyright Joe Sarno and respective copyright holders 2003.