A Beatles fan with a guilty conscience helped a 50-year-old issue of Life magazine get back to where it once belonged.
NPR reported Tuesday that the Cuyahoga County Public Library in Ohio received an unusual piece of mail last week — a copy of a magazine from 1968 featuring the Fab Four on the cover.
The magazine didn’t get lost on the long and winding road from the publisher to the library. It was stolen decades ago by a patron from a library in Parma, Ohio, whose conscience evidently wouldn’t let him be.
A note mailed with the magazine read, “I stole this magazine from the Parma Ridge Road Library when I was a kid. I’m sorry I took it. I’ve enclosed a check for the late fee.” The note, signed “Brian,” was accompanied by a money order for $100.
Brian’s full name remains a mystery, but he might live in or near Dayton, Ohio, where the magazine was mailed from.
Robert Rua, a spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Public Library, praised the mystery man for returning the long-overdue item.
“It’s a story about doing the right thing,” he said. “We would thank him for setting a good example — if belated.”
The Associated Press reports that $100 is the maximum amount the library charges for late fees. If that weren’t the case, Brian would have been on the hook for $1,800, if the library’s 10-cents-a-day late fee were applied.
The library isn’t taking any chances when it comes to the returned magazine — it plans to display the item in a case, making it inaccessible to would-be thieves.
Rua noted that the magazine was in pretty good condition, considering the decades that have passed since it was pilfered.
And while he discouraged library patrons from taking 50 years to return items, he conceded that there are limits to how missing items can be recovered.
“There really isn’t a Mr. Bookman, no library cop,” he said, referring to an episode of “Seinfeld” featuring Philip Baker Hall as a grizzled detective intent on punishing Jerry over a missing copy of Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer.”