When I was growing up in a small southern town that straddled the Arkansas-Louisiana border, we had plenty to keep us busy in the summer—chores around the house, Boy Scout outings, our own version of Little League baseball, and a whole bunch more, including in my case mandatory piano lessons that never really sank in. But one of the best was reading all the books we could get our hands on. We didn’t have a local library, but we did have access to a bookmobile that came to town weekly from the Claiborne Parish Library to serve residents from both sides of town.
On each bookmobile day, I would ride my bicycle several blocks early in the morning to ensure a place at the front of the line of kids and adults gathering to await its arrival. Seeing the large brown truck come down the street and pull into a corner parking lot on the edge of the small commercial district always made my heart rate speed up in anticipation of the treasures that lined its floor-to-ceiling shelves. When the rear door opened for the attendant to put out a small stepping stool, the musty-sweet smell of books wafted over the waiting patrons. Inside we returned our weekly limit of four books from the last visit and selected new adventures to savor over the next six days. I loved rushing home, climbing a tree with the best of my new haul, and reading in a cool breeze filled with the music of mockingbirds.∎