Growing up in a very small town had many disadvantages for a child. When I was young, swimming lessons were nonexistent (except for my Dad throwing me into the reservoir when I was five); shopping for school clothes involved catalogs and weeks of waiting since the nearest mall was hours away; and everyone knew everyone else's business because there weren't enough people in town to dilute the nosiness. However, there were so many advantages to growing up in a small town I just wouldn't want to take up the time and space to list them all. It has taken 30 years since high school for me to realize that Hinckley was a great place to grow up.
One of the things I didn't recognize as a small-town disadvantage was the lack of a local library--because we had a Bookmobile! Oh how I loved the Bookmobile! The only problem with it was that it only came to Hinckley every other week. What a wonderful sight that pale yellow bus with the big eyes painted in the "O"s in 'Bookmobile' on the side was every other Wednesday!
During the school year, the Bookmobile parked next to Hinckley Elementary School and each class would get a 30 minute block of time in the 'book bus' as one of my teachers called it. But during the summer months, it came to Main Street in town.
My parents originally lived in an old adobe pioneer home with only one other house on the entire block. The blocks were huge and left open for gardens, corrals, pastures and animal shelters and that is exactly what my parents did with their land. We had two large garden plots on either side of the house, lots of fenced off areas for sheep and horses, the corral where we kept cows, chicken coops, goat and pig pens and even a fenced in pond where we kept ducks. We also had a row of rabbit hutches along our redwood fence, a root cellar with a shed on top where we housed the baby chicks under heat lamps until they could be moved to the coops. We lived in that house from the time I was three until I was 16. THEN we moved onto Main Street. I was not happy about that move with the exception of one thing--next to that house was the parking place of the Bookmobile every other week all summer.
I remember the anticipation on every other Wednesday during the months we were out of school waiting for that lumbering vehicle to make its appearance. It probably meant more to the kids in Hinckley than an ice cream truck (we didn't have any idea what an ice cream truck was). It would make the turn off the highway onto Main Street and immediately people would start following it to its destination under the large, shady trees next to my house. For the next three or four hours, the young and old of Hinckley would bring back their previously checked-out books and choose new ones. The driver of the Bookmobile was also the librarian. He was very nice and would take requests written on little cards. If he was able to fill those requests, he would have your books up at the front in a box by the steering wheel. That was so cool to have a special book reserved with your name tucked inside the front cover.
I am sure that my love of reading started when I was five years old and the Kindergarteners were able to choose their own books. Today when I walk into a well-stocked library I feel that same sense of excitement about the new adventure I will find in a book just as I did many years ago climbing up the two high steps into a bus with shelves along both walls and the back and a desk with a steering wheel and a driving librarian behind it.