When people think of wrestler Sputnik Monroe’s records, they think of his stance against segregation and his wrestling titles. They don’t think of the songs he recorded on vinyl, his literal record. But the man who in the late 1950s desegregated Memphis’ main wrestling auditorium, one of the first things to be desegregated in the city, was also a trailblazer of another sort. In 1959, Monroe became one of the first wrestlers to ever cut a record.
Richard and Lisa Howorth opened Square Books in 1979 with $10,000 they had saved up and $10,000 they borrowed from a bank. The couple rented an upstairs space in a building Richard’s aunt owned on the town square in Oxford, Miss. It didn’t even have visibility from the street.
“We painted on the risers of the stairs the categories of the store—mysteries, cookbooks, so forth and so on—so that if people did happen to stop and look through the glass door they would see that it was probably a bookstore,” Richard Howorth said.