In the summer of 1967, Dorothy Pittman stood in line with other new transfer students at then Valdosta State Collegeâ€™s registrarâ€™s office, waiting to declare her major before being sent to the corresponding table.
â€œWhen the person in front of me told the registrar he was undecided about his major, she had him go to three separate long lines,â€ Pittman said. â€œI was not about to spend my morning standing in line, so when I was asked my major, the immediate answer was history. Needless to say, the lines at the history table were short, and I had completed registration for my summer classes in less than one hour.â€
Pittman graduated in May 1969 and went on to attend the School of Library Science at Florida State University. Afterward, Pittman worked in several different library positions, including the assistant special collections librarian at the University of Georgia, and eventually she traveledÂ to Edinburgh, Scotland, to pursue a Master of Letters in medieval history.
â€œAt that time, librarians were in short supply, so I had a choice of what jobs I wanted,â€ she said.
After returning, Pittman continued to work in libraries up until 1997 when she became the owner of Hortonâ€™s Book in Carrollton, Ga., the oldest bookstore in the state, quite by mistake.
â€œEven while working as a librarian, I had always thought it would be fun to open a used bookstore,â€ she said. â€œWhen I came home to Carrollton, I dropped in to see the owner of Hortonâ€™s to ask his advice on some books I found. We started talking, and soon I was working for him, and within several months, I was the owner.â€
Hortonâ€™s was always rumored to be one of the oldest bookstores in Georgia, but its age was secured when the American Booksellers Association (ABA) celebrated its 100th birthday and asked to hear from bookstores 100 years old and older.
â€œA couple months later, we received the official publication from ABA listing us as the ninth oldest in the nation,â€ Pittman said. â€œAnd the only one in Georgia.â€
Looking back at her time in Valdosta, Pittman is happy she chose to attend Valdosta State College.
â€œValdosta was the right school for me,â€ she said. â€œI loved the dorm life, the library where I worked as a page, my sorority, and the professors. The atmosphere was one where even someone like me, who was an introvert, could excel.â€
During her enrollment, Pittman was a member of Alpha Xi Delta, treasurer of the Student Government Association, and a page in the library. She also competed in the Miss Valdosta Pageant, which she called â€œan experience.â€
â€œAlthough I did not consider myself a beauty, I decided to give it a try,â€ she said. â€œAfter two days of walking around in a bathing suit, heels, and a gown, we spent just one evening onstage before a packed audience at the civic auditorium.â€
Being so involved on campus, Pittman kept a strict schedule in order to never fall behind in her classes.
â€œThe only exception was my last quarter when I stayed up all night to finish a term paper due the next day,â€ she said. â€œI swore after that to never do it again as the final product was not up to my usual standards.â€
Being the owner of Hortonâ€™s has not stopped Pittman from visiting her old stomping grounds.
â€œBefore my daughter decided to attend VSU, my family and I had visited a couple of times,â€ she said. â€œWhile she was there, I would drive her down at the beginning and end of each semester,
so I got a chance to see the changes that had taken place.â€ As Pittman’s graduation neared, she remembers being enthusiasticÂ about the future, despite less-than-promising circumstances. â€œDuring my time at VSC, there were the assassinations of MartinÂ Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy,â€ Pittman said. â€œIt was also during that time that 19-year-olds were being drafted for service in Vietnam. Even so, everyone was confident in the future and ready to begin their adult lives.
â€œIâ€™m not certain that anything prepares you for the â€˜real world,â€™ but VSC did give me the tools to understand and deal with the things that life threw me.â€