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  • Rolling Down Memory Lane

    Posted on June 2nd, 2010 Toby Weiss 8 comments
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    Within a few days of each other, I ran into two different vehicles that overwhelmed my memory, creating a rush of intense appreciation for them. Which was a strange, new sensation, as vehicles of any kind usually mean nothing to me.

    Almost cried when I was alongside this St. Louis County Public Library book mobile tooling down North Lindbergh. it’s been years since I’ve seen one, and decades since being inside one.

    As a grade schooler, my Mother used the library as a free babysitter. She’d drop me off at least once a week and come back an hour later to pick me up. During that time, she shopped and ran errands in peace and productivity while I scoured the shelves and checked out stacks of books.

    Once every 3 or 4 weeks, the Book Mobile would come to the apartment complex where we lived in Black Jack, MO. The Book Gods shined down upon me, as the Mobile parked directly in front of our building for 2 hours. This was the equivalent of a junkie getting a free hit or two; I could return and get more books autonomously! There were even a few times where I’d check out a book, run upstairs to the apartment to read it, and have it finished in time to run back down to the Mobile to return it and get another book to replace it.

    Why am I shocked that there are still Book Mobiles? Why do they seem so old fashioned, all of a sudden? There’s an obvious old age joke to be made here, but is it more than that? Do they seem old fashioned to any of you?

    Idling in a grocery store parking lot was this vintage Trailways bus.  My first thought upon spotting it was a record I checked out from the library filled with TV and radio bloopers. One of my favorites blunders was a live radio ad for Trailways, wherein the announcer jubilantly says, “This New Year’s Eve, take Trailways, and leave the drinking to us!”

    Aren’t the lines of this thing gorgeous? Now I understand why they made metal toy versions of them, and why the grade school boys were always snapping over who got to play with it next. It just looks cool.

    And in that parking lot, I saw 4 different men leave their cars to walk up to the bus and stare admiringly at it while chatting with the bus driver, who was just as jazzed as they were. It was like watching their inner 8-year olds peeking out for a minute or two, and it was a great thing to see.

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    8 Responses to “Rolling Down Memory Lane”

    1. Loved the book mobile. Probably haven’t been inside one sine I was in grade school back in the 80s. I loved it when it showed up outside Wyland, and was always disappointed when we didn’t get to go in it.

    2. I’ll see that “old age” thing and raise you one: In my bookmobile era (early to mid 1960’s), they were beige-ish/yellow, with brown trim. Also, they were “RV-like”, not trailers pulled by trucks. They visited our school every couple of weeks. They are right up there with Scholastic Book Club in fostering a love of reading and books!

    3. I, too, loved the Bookmobile and like Jason above, haven’t been inside one since grade school in the 80’s. The Bookmobile used to pull up in front of my grade school one day every other week and each class got some time to go and browse. I know I checked out and read many books from the ‘mobile because it always had a better, more updated selection than our school library. The only book I specifically remember checking out was a juvenile biography of Madonna in maybe ’86 or ’87. The woman who drove the Bookmobile was perfect with the kids. My city retired the Bookmobile a few years ago (RIP) but the same woman still works at the local library. Thanks for the memories!

    4. I was in one 2 or 3 summers ago, my (then) branch in DC was renovating and they had one parked out front during the interim. but the lousy online wifi card catalog kept going offline.

    5. Hi Bookmobile Fans – just wanted you to know that the St. Louis County Library still has 8 bookmobiles that serve our commununity. Our service is 63 years old and still rolling down the highways. We serve elementary schools (including Wyland) and senior living facilities throughout the county. The bookmobile in the picture will be retired soon – it is 44 years old. We are moving into a brand new bookmoble this week. Keep your eyes open for our brightly colored St. Louis County Bookmobiles in your neighborhood.

    6. cool Mary Anne, good to see the books are brought to the people.

      but then I must add that sort of vintage bus played a key supporting role in my FB profile statement.

    7. Loved that Bookmobile as a child!! It would come to our grade school and also to a shopping center near our house on Bellefontaine Rd! Ahh, the recognizable smell of walking into the bookmobile–it was a field day for me! So many books on the shelves-it was always an exciting time to be able to search among the books or ask the librarian to show the books at the desk-the ones that always coordinated with the upcoming holidays(books for Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc).
      I miss those days–good to know that the bookmobiles are still around :)
      Happy childhood memories!!

    8. This is the model that we spent countless thousands of miles on touring with Claude King, country legend of “Wolverton Mt. fame. You cannot imagine the memories this vehicle brings back to me and many others. some of the best sleeping in the world is in a bunk listening to the hum of that old deisel.