Inkwood Books creates permanent memorial to loyal customer

Green chair dedicated to late Iranian-born physician.

Tucked into one corner at the back of Inkwood Books’ new location, is a green chair which was the first piece of furniture purchased for the store prior to its opening in 2015. Owner Julie Beddingfield decided to affix a plaque as a tribute to the late physician Dr. Javidian, who would spend hours reading from that seat while the rest of his family browsed, shopped or took music lessons at other locales along Kings Highway in the downtown core.

By now, you’ve heard of “Green Book,” the 2019 Academy Award winner for best picture.

In Haddonfield, there’s a green chair. And it’s just been dedicated to a late  Iranian-born physician, a retiree who patronized a local bookstore and became a celebrity while reading and resting in it. 

“When we were planning to open five years ago, we found a location. And in thinking about the style of the store in the planning stages, I wanted to have a cozy feel with the furniture,” Inkwood Books owner Julie Beddingfield told the Sun on Sept. 22 

Beddingfield found what she was looking for in Pennsauken, and was so taken with the verdantly upholstered piece, she picked it up and carried it around for a half hour so nobody else could grab it. 

“It’s the first thing I bought, and it was a symbolic thing that the store would happen,” she mused.

Enter the Javidian family, Beddingfield’s first customers: Pari; her son, Javid; and her father, a retired anesthesiologist. 

“He originally lived in Shiraz, but Tehran was where he spent most of his pre-American life,” Pari said. “He was in practice for 30 years and then retired, but then went back and became a teacher. Mom was a physician;  my sister was also a doctor.” 

From the start, Dr. Javidian and his family would make Inkwood a Saturday stopover, because Javid was taking music lessons next door. 

“They were customers before I even opened; Pari would come in and buy stuff,” Beddingfield noted. “Later, Dr. Javidian would come when he stayed with her. Javid would have his lesson, and they would come to the store. He would sit while they shopped.”

Beddingfield noticed the doctor using the time waiting for his family to read, and read a lot, in that green chair. Although it was clear he read and wrote in English, he only spoke in Farsi with his family inside the store. 

“He was such a fixture. I asked him for permission to take his picture that I’d put on Instagram for the store, and though he didn’t know what a hashtag is, he enjoyed the attention,” Beddingfield added.

Pari also noted that Inkwood was one of the few places her father, a notorious homebody, would willingly travel to. 

“The only time he wouldn’t come was unless he was sick or visiting my sister,” she recalled. “He was always fond of bookstores, and saw our time in Inkwood as family time, time to bond.

“He felt safe and he felt comfortable. He saw Inkwood as a second home.”

What’s more, Dr. Javidian bucked centuries of tradition and grew to respect Inkwood as a small business owned and operated by a woman. Growing up as he did in the Middle East, he was way ahead of his time and his peers in terms of feminism, a fact that made his daughter proud.

Pari additionally revealed that her father, totally ignorant to the ways of social media, would often call his friends back in Iran to ask them about things like Instagram and hashtags, and to beam about the attention he received. 

“Absolutely,” his daughter said. “He thought it was so great. He thought he was so hip,” she added, when asked if he loved the attention. 

When Dr. Javidian passed away recently, Beddingfield was struck by a bolt of inspiration to honor his memory by placing a small plaque dedicated in his honor on the chair.

“I can’t be with Pari through this difficult time,” the store owner admitted. “You can’t hug people, you can’t go to funerals and I felt like since his presence was a big thing for us, he earned that spot.

“I get chills thinking about it,” she added. “That chair is so symbolic of what we try to do here as a community bookstore. Now we’re going to fill it with memories, and I hope I can take pics of other people in his chair.”

“It was so great. I was sobbing when Julie showed it to me,” Pari gushed.

Beddingfield didn’t mince words on the permanent nature of the memorial: 

“It’s staying there. It’s screwed into that chair. Unless the chair falls apart, it’s not going anywhere.”

The chair won’t be the only thing for which Javidian will be remembered. The good doctor also left an envelope with $500 for Inkwood to buy books for people unable to afford them.