The owner of a downtown Bangor bookstore finally got some good news on Thursday when he discovered that some of his most prized books were spared from damage in a basement flood caused by a burst pipe.
To Gerald Winters’ amazement, six of his seven original Stephen King manuscripts were found in nearly pristine condition despite the six feet of mud and water in the room where they were temporarily stored.
“Those are the only things I wanted because I cannot replace them,” Winters said.
Winters is still unsure whether he’ll have to close his business, but said he is relieved to have found these items, which he estimated to be worth roughly $20,000 each and were stored in a plastic box that remained sealed in the flood.
“Trucks,” the short story that was later adapted into the movie “Maximum Overdrive,” was the only manuscript that was destroyed, he said. Other items weren’t so lucky. Rare editions of King’s books and valuable ephemera that Winters had collected over two decades were ruined.
Word of Winters’ estimated six-figure losses circulated around the country earlier this week, and King himself reached out to offer his help on Thursday night, the store owner said.
Winters, who has never met or communicated with King before, said he’s flattered, but isn’t sure what to say.
“I would love to introduce myself and my family,” Winters said, or maybe “ask him to sign my first copy of ‘The Stand,’” which was the first book of King’s that Winters ever read, in 1998.
Cleaning crews on Friday were beginning the long process of clearing the mud and soiled items out of Winters’ basement. Only five boxes of books had not been damaged by water. A few thousand books were ruined, he said.
Along with the manuscripts, Winters salvaged about 30 first-edition King books, a few folders of miscellaneous letters from the 1980s, the original screenplay for “The Langoliers,” a 1979 first draft of King’s screenplay for “Creepshow,” and a small stack of letters written by J.R.R. Tolkien that date back to the 1950s and 1960s.
The manuscript for “Dolan’s Cadillac” was also spared, along with a 1986 letter that King wrote to his publisher, asking if he wanted to read the novella.
Other manuscripts that Winters found include parts I and II of “The Plant” and “Black House.” The novel, “The Eyes of the Dragon,” which had been stored in a separate wooden box, sustained some water damage, but Winters said it isn’t ruined.
Hopefully some good will come out of the situation, he said. But at the moment, “I just need to get cleaned up and try to open again.”
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