There she is, still with shiny black paint and sturdy oak shelves. Everett’s Roaring ’20s-era bookmobile, known as Pegasus and nicknamed Peggy, sits unused in a corner of a massive old building at Silver Lake.
“You get to go in the infamous dome,” said Doug Acheson, a project manager with Everett’s facilities and property management department.
Just south of Thornton A. Sullivan Park, in the dirt-floor storage building that resembles an airplane hangar, Acheson and Ruben Sanchez pulled back a tarp to reveal Pegasus. Sanchez is a capital projects coordinator with the city.
It’s been a wild ride for the state’s first bookmobile, a customized Ford which began serving Everett in 1924. That ride isn’t over.
With city approval, possibly by the end of this month, Pegasus could have an honored place at the Everett Museum of History. The museum, which is renovating a building at 2939 Colby Ave., is due to open in 2021. From 1905 to 1956, the downtown building was home to The Everett Daily Herald.
At Wednesday’s Everett City Council meeting, a resolution to declare Pegasus surplus and authorize its long-term loan to the museum was on the agenda, but set aside for later consideration. Deb Williams, executive assistant to the council, said the resolution could be back “later in the month.”
“We’re so excited, this is really going to be a big deal for the museum,” said Barbara George, executive director of the Everett Museum of History.
Everett Public Library Director Abby Cooley, who was at Wednesday’s meeting, is happy to see a plan for putting Pegasus “where people can actually see it.”
“The library and the museum together started the discussion,” Cooley said.
An early plan for the library’s Evergreen Branch expansion included displaying the antique bookmobile in the lobby. That display space was cut from the library project due to cost, Cooley said. The renovated Evergreen Branch could open in December. “We’re getting there,” Sanchez said.
Ninety-five years ago, the Everett library commissioned the state’s first bookmobile. It was a 1924 Ford Model T truck chassis with a fruit vendor-style van body and shelves to hold 1,000 books, according to a 2003 essay on the HistoryLink website by David Wilma.
The Model T coach, with 6 inches in added width, was later put on a 1929 Model AA Ford cab and chassis. Pegasus, a winged horse in Greek mythology, navigated Everett streets offering books and services to schoolchildren, mill workers other readers until 1950.
The end came, the HistoryLink piece says, because then-librarian Muriel Hain failed a driving test in the bookmobile — and so did old Pegasus. An Everett library podcast titled “Peggy Rides Again” tells that story, and says the bookmobile was sold at auction for $250.
Yet Pegasus hadn’t reached the end of its road.
In 1993, Herald reporter Jim Haley, now retired, continued the story. The former bookmobile had languished for 30-plus years in a south Everett garage. David Dilgard, a longtime Everett Public Library historian who died in 2018, told The Herald Pegasus was sold in 1950 to Bob Koger, and that the commercial fisherman resold it in 1951 to Everett’s Al Hansen.
Hansen, The Herald said, used it to haul gravel and lumber that became part of his garage.
Mark Nesse, a former Everett library director who also died last year, learned of the old bookmobile’s whereabouts in 1992. By 1993, he had enlisted the Rotary Club of Everett and other donors and volunteers in a restoration project. The Rotary group paid Hansen $1,000 for Peggy, which was in disrepair, its balloon tires flat and its windshield broken.
Nesse, known as a “car guy,” lived to see Pegasus restored, and to even get behind the wheel and drive the old Ford to a public event at the Everett Mall. Pegasus, for a time an attraction in local parades, has outlived Everett’s modern bookmobile service, which became a victim of city budget cuts in 2014.
George said members of the museum’s board of trustees signed paperwork put together by city staff outlining the 20-year loan agreement of Pegasus. Appraisal information is attached to the resolution, which lists the value of the vehicle at $30,000 to $40,000.
The resolution notes that maintenance is a drain on city resources, that the value of Pegasus was created by volunteers and donors, not city money. And it adds: “This is a win-win as it both relieves the City of expenses and honors the intent of those who donated Pegasus.”
“We feel like there’s some urgency to this,” George said Friday. “We’re approaching winter and don’t want it in the shed it’s in. We have staff with the knowledge to take care of it, to preserve it and protect it.”
And she knows just the spot. From the back of the museum building’s lower level, a ramp leads to the alley — likely once used by Herald newspaper trucks. The antique bookmobile could be driven or rolled down that ramp to a place George hopes will be called “Nesse’s Corner,” after the man who helped rescue Pegasus.
“We want a mural on the wall and set Peggy in front of it. Children can access books and we can schedule storytellers,” George said. “It’s a perfect place for it.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen and learn
Learn more about Pegasus, the Everett Public Library’s vintage bookmobile, and listen to the library podcast “Peggy Roars Again” at: www.epls.org/316/Pegasus