|Etobicoke Public Library Book|
Inside, both walls were lined with books floor to ceiling and the narrow hallway between them was paved with beige linoleum. The long thin bank of fluorescent lights that ran down the centre of the bus emitted a comfortable hum. In the summer, it was hot and airless, so we never stayed very long, but in winter the bookmobile was a cozy refuge from bitter winds, due in no small part to the engine running for the full hour.
About half way down on the driver’s side was a two foot square window. This was where the children’s books could be found. A small kid-sized wooden table with two chairs sat under the window and nestled between two low vertical shelves that displayed the entire children’s collection, perhaps some twenty books in all. Most of the time I had this special space all to myself -- it seemed not many children got taken to the bookmobile by their mom.
I often had time to just watch Mommy find her books. She would scan the shelves carefully, often with her right forefinger tracing the bookshelf until she found something of interest, at which point she would pull out the book and read the inside flap. Then one of two things would happen – she would either put the book back or go on to read the first page. If then a smile crept across her face, I’d hear the book close with a satisfactory snap and see it triumphantly added to her book bag.
Mom was a voracious reader right up until her death at 89 years. If a book was on the New York Times Best Seller list, chances were Mom had read it, particularly if it was fiction: “Desirée”, “Auntie Mame”, “Hawaii”, “The Thorn Tree”, “Exodus” as well as anything by Daphne du Maurier or Mazo de la Roche. I suspect these stories fuelled her inner life and kept her dreams alive.
Finally we would present our finds to the smiling librarian who would dutifully stamp the cards and then it was out the door we went -- with a little help from the driver – and back up the street, hand-in-hand. Bookmobile days were special times not so much for the books as for the time spent with Mom – those hand-in-hand walks followed by afternoons curled up beside her while she read to me were precious.