Henrietta Moore remembered for her ‘Attic’

Henrietta Moore. (Brice Stump Photo.)

Salisbury-area residents, as well as visitors to the area in the 1980s, ’90s and early 2000s, might recall a quirky used book shop called Henrietta’s Attic.

Located on Maryland Avenue just off Route 13, the store was cluttered and filled with treasures for those who enjoyed the hunt.

The owner, Henrietta Jones Moore, was a great-granddaughter of Salisbury business icon of E.S. Adkins, a well-known house builder. Moore  was the last surviving member of her generation in that prominent family. Born July 5, 1925, she died Dec. 9, at 94 years of age.

For a few decades, Henrietta Moore was a fixture in the community.

Moore left Salisbury and moved to Wilmington with her husband, Ernest Moore, in 1950. She worked in real estate for a time, and then became the Assistant Executive Director and Assistant Editor of the Delaware Medical Journal based in Wilmington.

In 1980 she returned to Salisbury; she quickly found her calling in that little shop.

“I remember Henrietta from antiquing adventures when I was little,” said Salisbury resident Nicole Bishop Herr, who lives with her husband in an older house that was built by the E.S. Adkins & Co.

“My Aunt Susan (Bishop) would take me and we’d stop here and there, but always Henrietta’s Attic,” she said. “Henrietta was barely visible behind the heaps of treasures shed collected. She was ready with a kind word and an endless supply of books.”

Debby Elderdice Creasy, who moved to North Carolina in 2007 but grew up in Salisbury, is the daughter of Robert Elderdice, who was Henrietta’s first cousin.

“I knew Henrietta my whole life,” said Creasy. “The Adkins family was large and close-knit.”

“There’s more fun in a treasure hunt through a used book shop than a trip to an organized bookstore where everything is carefully catalogued and you know exactly where to find it,” said Susan Lewis of Salisbury. “And Henrietta had cool, out-of-print stuff that is hard to find.”

Moore was someone whom people loved to stop in to visit, but there was another reason.

Inside Henrietta’s Attic lived a gray and brown tabby cat, appropriately named Bibliphile.

“Bibby,” as she was known, prowled the bookshelves and antique displays.

“Bibby had big beautiful eyes,” recalled Creasy. “On weekends I would visit the shop when I lived in Salisbury to feed Bibby and change her litter. Bibby would prowl the shop, sometimes sleeping in a large cut glass punch bowl. She walked along the top shelves of books and across tables covered with glass and ceramic items, and almost never broke anything.”

“I loved stopping in to visit with her and Bibby,” said Kathryn Kalmanson of Southport, N.C., and formerly of Salisbury. “She really knew the book market. Since I lived near the shop, I used to stroll over there on Saturdays to browse the books and visit with Henrietta and Bibby.”

Moore possessed a charming way.

“Henrietta was a treasure,” said Hannah Miller of Salisbury. “I would stop in and say hi, just to see her eyes twinkle. I loved the way she thought – kinda like the store: all over the place. She was a smart lady.”

“I remember Henrietta taking the time to ask you about what books you liked, and then she would go try to locate them on the shelves,” said Barbara Klebon of Salisbury. “She was such a sweet lady.”

“I moved to Salisbury probably around 1983 or so and happened to drive by the little strip shopping center on Maryland Avenue,” said Lewis. “There was a tiny antique store next door. I parked and went into the antique shop. I wandered around and bought a dish or something small.”

Then Lewis spotted Henrietta’s Attic.

“I’d always go where there are books,” she said. “I went in and wandered around. I love books. I’m always looking for hardback Robert Heinlein books because my paperbacks get ragged. I found a couple, bought them and one other book.”

After that, Lewis said she made a point of stopping in every couple of months. Once, she said, a couple of friends from Philadelphia visited. They were also book lovers.

“I found a Dorothy Parker paperback from the 1930s, a book of poems,” she said. It was priced at around $20, which was a lot of money then.

“My friends pooled their resources and bought that book for me,” she said. “I still have it and I still treasure it.”

Creasy worked at the book shop a couple of years during the early 1980s. Part of her job was to contact people to let them know when something came in that they might enjoy.

“One gentleman collected Masonic memorabilia, things like engraved watches,” she said, “and whenever something came in, I would send a card to that collector. He often purchased them. Henrietta loved what she sold and loved sharing them with people.”

Creasy moved to the Fenwick Island area and then to Ocean View.

“After I moved, every so often a fat envelope would appear in my mailbox,” Creasy said, “filled with items of interest from Henrietta. She was so generous and thoughtful that way. It was so much fun to open those packages and see what was inside — clippings from newspaper articles, photographs and small items.”

The shop even withstood a small fire, but Bibby perished in that fire, which temporarily closed the shop.

As Moore grew older, she tried to sell the business, Creasy said.

“She even asked me to come home and buy it and operate it,” Creasy said. “Her son, Bill, found me on Facebook and messaged me about it. She was at the time living in a Berlin nursing home.”

The shop finally sold a few years ago.

“She had the shop for a long time and really knew books, Creasy said. “She taught me a lot about both the technical side of bookselling, which turned about to be what I did for many of my working years. I still love that environment, and I also love seeing customers with similar interests who come in and share their stories.”

Moore was the daughter of the late Harry Lay Jones and Minnie Adkins Jones. She was a graduate of Western Maryland College.

Survivors include her son, William Moore; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband Ernest Moore; and a son, Jeffrey Moore. A funeral service was held Saturday at Bethesda United Methodist Church in Salisbury.

As your community newspaper, we are committed to making Salisbury a better place. You can help support our mission by making a voluntary contribution to the newspaper.