Recently, while rummaging through some old files, I ran across this letter to the editor in the June 17, 1998 issue of the Austin American-Statesman:
The June 12 article about bookmobiles by Mike Cox brought back some wonderful memories of when I worked as a part-time driver in the early 1960s while attending UT. We also were responsible for stocking books, checking out books, keeping the generator going for light and air conditioning that sometimes worked and cleaning up.
We went to schools, retirement homes and several small towns and communities outside the city limits. We set up shop at locations where branch libraries were eventually built.
The librarian I worked with mostly, Jean Siedo, made the job a pleasure. She knew the regulars on our route and selected books from the main library stacks for them. She delivered books to the rooms of some of those who were not physically able to come to the bookmobile. She treated everyone with respect, regardless of age, race or economic situation. She encouraged and counseled when needed. A few times I saw her give food and money to children who had little. I'm sure that was not part of her job description, but I respected her for everything she did.
Sometimes I wish we still had bookmobiles.
I had forgotten about that letter to the editor. I wish I had reviewed it before I started writing Where Love Once Lived. If I had, I could have added more details about how my character helped others to the point where she was surprised with a special gift from her patrons. Also, I may have used a different name for the character. I used Liz Siedo, and I wouldn't want anyone to think the fictional character was really the live person Jean Siedo. Even though their actions to their patrons were similar, I made up the rest.
Have you met someone like Jean Siedo who impressed you the way she did me?