The people of Monowi have died or moved -- all but one: [Elsie Eiler]. Brisk and unsentimental at 71, she lives in the one home still fit for living in, a snug trailer with worn white siding. She runs the one business left in Monowi, a dark, wood-paneled tavern, thick with smoke.
Elsie's late husband, Rudy, read them endlessly. He farmed and tended bar, he ran a grain elevator, he delivered gas to filling stations, and when the town was down to just him and Elsie, he served as mayor too. But he always found time to read -- science fiction, history, the classics -- anything but a Harlequin romance.
MAP: Monowi, Neb.; CREDIT: Los Angeles Times; RUDY'S LEGACY: Monowi may be the smallest town in the nation with its own library, thanks to inveterate reader Rudy Eiler.; PHOTOGRAPHER: Dave Weaver For The Times; BOOK KEEPER: Elsie Eiler, inside the cozy Rudy's Library, says: "You just have to look around till you find something you want to read. You'll probably run across something you're not thinking of."; PHOTOGRAPHER: Dave Weaver For The Times