For those who don't know, the Bookmobile was a converted RV lined with shelves. Two librarians loaded it every day and drove out into the county visiting farms and rural places. People would climb aboard, pick out books to read and taken the books inside. When the Bookmobile came back around, the books were swapped for something else to read.
The ladies quickly learned what the patrons on the route wanted to read and made sure to stock that.
Mom and Dad both made sure Shag & would read. They read books to us regularly. Mom delighted in telling people a story about when I just a munchkin, not quite able to read..
Dad would get out of his chair, book in hand. His destination, the bathroom where he'd sit, attend to Nature's call and devour a significant portion of the book. If I managed to see him getting up, I'd scramble to find a book and race ahead to the bathroom, taking the throne before he could.
I remember seeing a picture of me on the porcelain pony, book in hand. I haven't seen it in years. Maybe it will turn up as we sort stuff.
My favorite book when I was small was "He's Your Dog Charlie Brown." Yes, a movie by the same name exists.
Mom said I'd grab the book and come running to her or dad saying "Weed T'wown." And they read. They read it exactly because after a while I had it memorized. A mistake was quickly called out. Decades later one of my Christmas presents was an original edition He's Your Dog Charlie Brown. It's not the one I had, but it means just as much. It means more now, cause Mom won't have any more Christmases in this word.
Mom read about anything she could get ahold of. She particularly like Harold Robbins and John Stienbeck. I don't get that, but I also don't have to understand. I like HR, not JS, but given the graphic nature of some of HR's scenes, I can't understand why Mom liked it. Maybe she skipped those parts.
In later years she stopped reading fiction and switched to nonfiction. I asked her why.
"I know what's going to happen," she said. She'd read so much, fiction writers could not surprise her or deliver the level of intellection stimulation she was after. Nonfiction, even if she knew the outcome, held details she might not know. That made it worth reading.
She was also well-versed in the Bible. Jehovah Witnesses eventually stopped coming to our house because of how much she knew. She'd ask questions and pose situations they could not or would not answer. She made them more than a little uncomfortable.
Make no mistake - love of reading is a gift. It has to be given early and reinforced regularly. This love of reading includes the flip side, a love of learning. Mom gave us this gift. Our family loved to read so much Shag taught himself how to read, with the help of Sesame Street and the Electric Company. Aunt Ginger (his kindergarten teacher) was surprised when he was reading. Mom wasn't.
I'm hard pressed to put a finger on the greatest gift she gave me, not because I can't find it, but because I cannot see through these tears to type it out. Give me time and I'll get it out. Certainly this love of words and learning has to be near the top.
Meantime, her gift of the love of words has gone a long way to shaping me into the person I am today. You can accurately pin many titles on me and she gets credit for starting me on those paths. No one gets more credit for Ben Baker the writer, the author, the reporter than she does.