This morning on Facebook, I ran across an article my friend Derick Mitchell posted regarding the passing of bookmobiles. He loves old vehicles and is also married to a librarian. I imagine he's been in plenty of bookmobiles in his lifetime.
I only boarded the City of Gadsden's bookmobile only once in my life. It was in the late 1960's and the children of R.A. Mitchell elementary were lined in single file for a walk-through of the unusual book filled bus parked in front of the school. At the time, I had never heard of such a thing. Was it a car made out of books or a car you could somehow read. Before leading the kids out, Mrs. Lane told us that the Bookmobile was a library on wheels. My mind then went to a vehicle made out of brick and mortar. I had no idea what we were about to behold when we all got outside and see for ourselves.
Our visit that day was "look but don't touch" visit, because we were not invited to actually check a book out. They were merely showing off the spanking new vehicle as if it were a traveling museum of sorts. Not being able to actually check out a book that day kind of lead me to believe that those books were not meant for us mountain kids. We after-all had a nicely stocked library at school and my family had lots of books lining our large bookcases at home.
There was a reason I wasn't too anxious to check out a bookmobile book when given the opportunity. I don't recall the bookmobile dropping by often ~ how regular the visit and when. I wasn't sure when, how and if I would be able to return a book borrowed if the bookmobile failed to come my way again. Would there be a penalty for a book I was unable to return? Would the bookmobile come looking for me in the middle of the night? Would an angry librarian wake me from my sleep, demand that I produce the un-returned book, a high fee or worse...face a penalty? Would the last time my parents see me, was me crying-calling out to them from the back window of the bus as it drove out of site and to where? I know I was a child with a vivid imagination, but I wasn't about to take any chances.