The days of the one-room and two-room schoolhouses are over. Oh, I imagine there may be a few tucked away somewhere on the prairie or in the hills across the country. But by and large, those schoolhouses are resting comfortably in the corner of our past, maybe playing cards with the manual typewriter and the village smithy.

That little two-room school in Leota held a lot of magic. No, we didn't know it at the time, nope. At the time it was just a place to go learn about Presidents and verbs, pluses and minuses, and guz-intas (you know, 3 guz-inta 6 twice, 4 guz-inta 12 three times, 5 guz-inta 20 four times).

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But looking back over these many decades, the simplest things become magical in the memory. And one of those magical things was a special day.

The day the Bookmobile came.

It would come to our little town, oh, maybe once a month, once every 6 weeks, once every couple of months. I'm a little foggy on how often it came, but whatever it was, it wasn't enough. It came from the big city, maybe New York or Los Angeles or somewhere (OK, I think it came from Worthington, but when you're 6 years old, Worthington and New York are the same things). And it was magical for 2 important reasons. 1) It got us out of the classroom! and 2) The entire world and everything that had ever been was rolling along on those 4 wheels.

As I remember (and sometimes I don't remember exact facts) we could 'check out' a couple of books each. You see, we didn't have a library in our little 2-room school, so this was our library. It might be Dr. Seuss or the never-ending adventures of Dick and Jane...oh, and Spot. But one thing it was for sure was Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Years before Michael Landon (and didn't he look a lot like Little Joe!) brought the little house to the TV, my friends and I had already traveled with the Ingalls. We had lived in that log cabin, survived the harsh winters, and strolled along the banks of Plum Creek. And as much as I like the TV series, I loved the books.

We'd have our literary adventures for, again, a month or 6 weeks or however long it was till that Bookmobile would once again come down main street Leota, make a little U-turn, and pull in front of our little school. Then we would dutifully walk out in single file, into the 'library', return our books and search out new adventures, new places to let our imagination fly.

In so many ways, it's because of that little Bookmobile in that little town so many years ago, that I still have a love for reading. If I had to choose between a good book or a good TV show? The book would win every time.

And I wouldn't mind taking one more stroll along Plum Creek. And maybe take a fishing pole.


Randy's Minnesota Memories

Randy McDaniel grew up on a small farm near Leota, Minnesota during the classic baby-boomer years of the 1960s and 1970s. These are his stories of growing up in the idyllic world of southwest Minnesota.

Here Are The 7 Remaining Drive-In Theaters In South Dakota

If you were born last know, in the nineteen hundreds (ugh) may have spent a summer evening in the car watching movies. I don't mean on your phone, I mean at the drive-in movie theater!

If you were in Sioux Falls in the 1970s and '80's you may remember seeing Jaws and Indiana Jones at The East Park or the Starlite Drive-In. Both drive-ins opened just after World War 2. The East Park didn't make it out of the '70s, closing in 1978. The Starlite survived long enough to see the birth of home video, closing in 1985.

Drive-in movies had a bit of a resurgence during the pandemic. They were a way to go out and do something social without getting out of your car.

If you tried one during that time, or you remember the fun of a warm summer evening watching movies on that giant screen there are still places in South Dakota and around Sioux Falls you can do it.

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