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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Book Store/Library (06/03/10)

TITLE: Have Books, Will Travel
By Allen Stark


“It’s here!” my sister said as she ran towards the front door.

“I finished gulping down my last few spoonfuls of breakfast and went flying out the screen door. I hurried down the road to where my sister had gone. It was summer break, school had been out for a couple of weeks, and now the bookmobile was making its first appearance!

To enter the huge bus-like vehicle, reach up to the shelf and open a book was like opening the doors of the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series.

When the bookmobile came to our area of town during the summer, it parked parallel to the curb, taking up several parking spaces near the small grocery store. All the other cars were parked at an angel. There were bicycles all along the curb as both children and a few adults showed up to check out books. People would always be outside visiting with each other as they waited, because there wasn’t room for everyone to be inside at the same time. It was a social event as well as; a chance to check out new reading material. The bookmobile had air-conditioning, at least when it was working, so most people weren’t in a hurry to leave. Nobody had air conditioning back then.

We had a few books in our home, mostly religious in nature and above most kids' reading level. Our small school had a library too, but the bookmobile brought a variety of books on almost every subject you could think of, from biographies to historical novels. If you wanted a book that wasn’t there, the librarian would write it down and try to bring it on the bookmobile’s next trip.

Many people in rural areas had very little access to books unless they traveled to a larger town. In the 40s and50s there wasn’t a Barnes & Noble, or even a Wal-Mart with a book section like there is today.

My love of books probably came from my grandmother and step aunts who were always reading. It didn't take me long to read most of the books that were around their houses or on the classroom shelves. Some of us were hooked on reading from the day our first grade teacher, Mrs. Croft, taught us to read the words, “See Spot run! Run! Run! Run!”

After the Dick and Jane books, I had moved on through all the series books such as Nancy Drew and Little House on the Prairie. I yearned for more reading material and remembered my cousin said her neighbor had a book called, “Gone with the Wind.” We both read it when we were only 10 years old. Now that the bookmobile was coming, we knew we would be able to read more such books.

Although we think of the bookmobile as beginning in the early 1950s, the idea had been around awhile. I have been told by those older than myself that books were once distributed to schools and communities by horse-drawn wagons. But I do have vague recollections that, in the years after World War II, books were sometimes carried in the trunks of cars to different areas.

Although bookmobiles, for the most part, are no longer in service, we still have libraries. Books are always better than the movies they create from them, because there is a lot more detail than can be put into a two-hour film.

Years ago, before television and video games, families would have “reading time” together. Why not turn off the TV, take your kids or grandkids to the local library and let them pick out some books? Then sit and read with them. You may not have a magic wardrobe, but if you just open a good book and begin to read, the book has a magic all its own to transport you to faraway places, even though you have not moved from where you sit.

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Member Comments
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/11/10
What a beautiful walk down Memory Lane. I think it is so important to keep the past alive for the future. With i-pads and kindle, soon libraries will be a thing of the past (hopefully not for another 100 years at least) but I think it's wonderful to read your description of a summer where summer was fun and relaxing not filled with camps, play groups, dance lessons, and rush rush rush. Thank you so much for sharing. it is beautiful.
Brenda Shipman 06/11/10
This was so nostalgic for me, as I loved the book mobile in our town. You did such a tremendous job of describing the whole experience, as well as putting in a big plug for reading vs. all the other shallow forms of entertainment. This was a delightful read! Thank you!
Rachel Burkum06/17/10
As one too young to remember the subject, I still appreciate what it must have been like at that time. So glad we have people like you who are willing to share with the rest of us.

I missed seeing more dialogue or character interaction, but the message was great. Well-written as always. :)