On this historic 145th annual National Library Week, we are setting aside time to show how "Libraries Transform" with our staff and collections. Today is National Bookmobile Day, so give a round of applause for our Bookmobile Staff, Carl and Wally!
Carl Winslow, no relation, has been with the library in a part-time capacity as the bookmobile driver for almost 35 years. "When I started, it was just a boat, a donkey, and a dream," Carl said. He's referring to our ferry system, back when the library had a moat. Carl was hired to care for the donkey that would operate the rope pulley system attached to a raft.
Carl continued, saying, "I would give Calliope some hay and slap her ass, get her moving and tell people to hold on to the raft or each other. Some people didn't hold on and they fell. I never was a good swimmer. Don't get paid to save people. Sometimes I dream of water splashing on my feet, my hand out, trying to help. Trying to save just one. Then the library portcullis comes down like it always did."
Glad those days are over! When the city outlawed moats, the library switched Carl and Calliope over to our outreach division. People from all over would come streaming out when they heard the bookmobile coming with Carl and Calliope at the wheel!
Carl said of the time, "I hated that donkey. Prayed for its death. When I don't hear the sounds of drowning children at night, I hear the sound of their little bones breaking under Calliope's hoofs. Just a mean animal from hell itself. She was okay on the moat. Nobody to bother her. But on the street... I'm glad when they put a bullet in that goddamned creature's head."
And what a sad day that was, when Calliope the Library Donkey was put down when the city outlawed "death by hoof." But then we got the library van that still runs today. Carl told us what its like to drive a library van: "It's good."
Carl's not out there alone, though. As many of you know, Wally (no last name), has been riding with him as the Bookmobile Secret Keeper for over a dozen years. When we asked Wally about his job and experience, he had this to say: "I'm not permitted to say."
Wally is very devoted to his part time job.
So, next time you are out there in the world and hear the distinctive dead silence of the electric motor of the bookmobile, look behind you because there it could be with Carl and Wally ready to give you a book or keep your secret.