I’ll never forget my childhood visits to the Bookmobile. An unassuming trailer dispatched every other
week from the large central library in downtown San Antonio, Texas, it rested in the parking lot of the shopping center near our home. During summer months, its presence beckoned me with as much anticipation as a picnic or day at the pool, because it represented adventure, escape and fantasy.
While my mother did her weekly grocery shopping, my sisters and I spent the morning at the bookmobile, deciding which books we’d carry home. I remember floor to ceiling shelves lining either side of the trailer and open doors at each end. We checked out books at a miniscule table at
the front where the attendant sat, you guessed it, reading a book.
In early summer, I stood at the bookshelves,
the breeze from the open doors stirring the
hair on the back of my neck. I picked up book
after book, poring over their illustrations, reading
dust jackets, author notes and sometimes a
chapter or two. By the time July rolled around,
it was a good idea to visit as early as possible
or I’d be forced to endure the humidity and the
sweat trickling down the small of my back.
Those days, I picked books at random and
left as quickly as possible, in search of a
cooler spot to read.
I journeyed far away from that little trailer
in the parking lot. It was my Time Machine.
My travels took me to placesfar north and rode
a sled down an icy hill and made a snowman or
maybe I sailed to a tropical
island where I ate pineapple and slept in a
hammock. Sometimes I visited the past and rode
on a wagon train or hunted buffalo with the Indians
or on the crusades with gallant knights in
the middle ages. My favorite trips were the ones
where I visited magical places that only existed
in my mind.
Those days are long gone, but I can still
experience that wonderful feeling of anticipation whenever I pick up a new book.