In my elementary school years, there were but two ways I wanted to spend my spare time: cowboying and reading.

My paternal grandfather was an honest-to-goodness cowboy. After he lost his north Texas farm to the dust bowl and the depression, Granddad and his family – including my dad – eventually landed in far northern New Mexico. There, and later in the dusty and windy San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, he looked after cattle and fences for a variety of ranchers. On his days off, if Dad’s stories are to be believed, Granddad traded, bought and sold horses.

That’s who I wanted to be.

But Dad was a pumper and gauger for Sinclair Oil in Kansas and Oklahoma. We had no horse and we had no saddle. But I had books.

By the time I got old enough to read “chapter books” we were in Oklahoma and I was the beneficiary of the greatest gift rural Oklahoma had to offer a six-year old... the county library’s book mobile.

Every two weeks the big red step-van was driven over from Pauls Valley, the seat of Garvin County government, and parked in the center of tiny Maysville, Oklahoma. We were regulars.

Six-plus decades later, I recall the excitement of Mom driving us to town and of climbing the steps into that van.

{p class=”Standard”}The book mobile let me do my cowboying and my riding vicariously. I devoured the entire Will James – think ‘Smoky the Cow Horse’ or ‘Cow Country’ – series. I was sure I knew Man O’War better than any jockey who urged him across a finish line.

{p class=”Standard”}I cried over Black Beauty and celebrated from the back of Pie in National Velvet. Misty of Chincoteague and I were besties.

{p class=”Standard”}If I couldn’t be an actual cowboy, I wanted to be Walter Farley writing about The Black Stallion.

{p class=”Standard”}In those days, I lived between the covers, book covers made available to me at no charge week after week.

{p class=”Standard”}Today, a wall of our den is devoted to books, in some cases two deep on the shelves. Aside from a collection of yellowing Louis L’Amour westerns, there are no horse-y books in my collection; my tastes in literature evolved... some days I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but I know more about more than I would if it it weren’t for horses and the Garvin County Book Mobile.

{p class=”Standard”}●

{p class=”Standard”}


{p class=”Standard”}

{p class=”Standard”}In 1942, Compton’s encyclopedia published a supplement – encyclopedia companies regularly published supplements to keep their costly volumes more or less current – entitled “Libraries from Ancient to Modern Times.”

{p class=”Standard”}Their example of a big city library was the New York Public Library. To represent small town libraries, the chose the Kilgore Public Library and published the picture you see here.

{p class=”Standard”}Kilgoreos even today are blessed with more than a book mobile and surely Smoky still lives there.

{p class=”Standard”}●

{p class=”Standard”}Bill is a semi-retired newspaperman who (She Who Generally Knows Best can attest) reads a lot.

Recommended For You


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.