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 for the entire day. 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 exciting volumes 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 before the shelves, 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 in the morning as possible or be forced to endure the humidity and the sweat trickling down the small of my back. Those days, I picked at random and left as quickly as possible, in search of a cooler spot.
Whenever I opened the pages of a book, I journeyed far away from that little trailer in the parking lot. My travels took me somewhere far north and rode a sled down an icy hill or made a snowman or sailed to a tropical island where I ate pineapple and slept in a hammock. I might visit to the past and ride on a wagon train or hunt buffalo with the Indians. Or go on the crusades with gallant knights in the middle ages. Some of my favorite trips were the ones where I visited magical places that only existed in the author’s dreams.
Those days are long gone, but I hope I never stop having that wonderful feeling of expectation whenever I pick up a new book and get ready to start a new journey.