The Friday Bookmobile

Take no heed of her…. She reads a lot of books.―Jasper Fforde, The Eyre Affair

I cannot tell my son I walked to or from school in the snow because I grew up in Arizona. But I have told him I walked home the one mile route from St. Theresa to my suburban home in Phoenix in sweltering heat. Often shepherding two pesky younger brothers.

But Fridays were the days I never minded this long, hot walk home. Because parked very close to my house was The Bookmobile. Repository of magic. Where all of my book friends lived, waiting for their turn to come home with me. I was a very independent child and got a library card on my own when The Bookmobile appeared one Friday.

Ten book limit? Oh, the choice was excruciating.

The world was hers for the reading.―Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

It was there I discovered “Beezus and Ramona,” “The Secret Garden,” and followed Nancy Drew’s detective abilities to solve neighborhood mysteries. There were so many, all waiting for me to find them. I was Roald Dahl’s “Matilda,” devouring everything, minus pulling my treasures home in a Red Flyer wagon.

My family had a Friday night tradition. My mother had taken a job and when she returned home from work my brothers and I were rewarded for accepting her absence with our favorite candy bars. For this ritual, I would come out of my room where I had already made a head start on my week’s books. After dinner, my older youngest brother and I would lie on the floor in front of our television and watch our Friday night lineup. Television was highly monitored in my home, but Friday nights were a bit more lax. First came the cartoon, “Top Cat,” whose silly adventures with various neighborhood ruffian cats had us in hysterics. This was the closest we would ever come to having a cat.

Then came the Friday Night Feature. It was time for “The Twilight Zone.”

This is where youngest brother had to exit. The show gave him nightmares. But not other brother and me. We were fascinated and enthralled by whatever black and white drama Rod Serling had invented that week. An old woman fighting a tiny spaceship, little girls who were trapped in wall openings, and what was to become my favorite, ‘Time Enough At Last”, where Henry Bemis, surviving an apocalyptic blast, is left to imbibe in his revered pastime, reading all the books he wants without interruption. But a plot twist ruins his dream when his glasses break. Even in reruns years later, I can still feel his pain.

The best laid plans of mice and men…and Henry Bemis…the small man in the glasses who wanted nothing but time. Henry Bemis, now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself.―Rod Serling

The rest of the weekend I spent in my bedroom, reading my Bookmobile treasures. I can’t even count how many times I was told not to bring my book to the dinner table. Many years later, my husband and I were living in California and went to the beach every weekend with our good friends. Yes, I was still catching grief for bringing a book with me.

Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

My son contends that hell is a long wait without a book and I quite agree with him. He has inherited my reading gene. When I visit him in Portland, we troll the infamous Powell’s Books, search for new finds, and then sit in a coffee shop and read our new books.

Nirvana. Being with my son, Portland coffee shops, and reading together.

Nowadays, most of my books are on Kindle, but I still must have regular books just to sniff the pages for that wonderful book smell, bringing back my sweet childhood Bookmobile memories.

Where the love began.

I know every book of mine by its smell, and I have but to put my nose between the pages to be reminded of all sorts of things.―George Gissing

Photo Credit: simpleinsomnia Flickr via Compfight cc

  1. Beautiful, Dori. I love your Friday memories and got a little weepy when I read about you and your son reading together. Thank you for offering up something lovely and hopeful during this dark October.

  2. Dori – I love this piece. We still have a bookmobile here in my little city, it doesn’t come up our way, but I do see it from time to time, and I do so hope that there is a young Dori out there excitedly waiting for it.

    I think it’s a wonderful thing that your son shares your love of books and I, too agree with him on his hell theory.

    At our house I love looking up from my book and seeing my family sprawled all over the living room, noses in whatever they are reading at the moment, it’s a great feeling.

    Great piece, and look for something (not on kindle) coming to you soon.
    Love to you – xoxox – N

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