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Overdue 70-Some Years, Book Returned to Stevens

Claremont — At the entrance of the Stevens High School library this time of year, there is a reminder posted on a board that all library books have to be returned before school ends for the summer.

For students who forget — or perhaps misplaced — a book, or two they should always remember it is never too late to return one to the library. Even if they stumble upon that long lost book decades from now.

Last month, a package arrived at the library with a book that appears to have been checked out in the 1940s.

The Boys’ Life of Theodore Roosevelt, by Herman Hagedorn, was copyrighted in 1922.

“When I opened it up I thought, ‘This is like opening a time capsule,’ ” said Jean Ryea, Stevens’ media specialist.

The library obtained the book in 1941 but there is no record of when it was signed out.

A letter accompanied the overdue book.

“I was cleaning my attic this weekend and found a very overdue book taken out by my Uncle Ronald Huard,” wrote Robin Connors of Jericho, Vt.

“I believe it was due back in the ’40s, so I thought I’d better return it for him,” she continued, adding some humor. “Please don’t send me an overdue bill!”

Connors said by phone yesterday that Huard grew up on a farm in Claremont and eventually settled in Newton, Mass., where he lived with her family.

“He lived with us when I was growing up and he was like a second father to me,” Connors said.

Huard moved to Natick, Mass., in 1965 and lived there until his death at age 59 in the late 1980s.

Connors said she moved a lot of boxes of books out of the Natick home and brought them to her house, where she eventually started sorting through them.

“I’m not a pack rat but I don’t like throwing things away. I like giving them away,” Connors said.

When she discovered the book with the Stevens High School stamp and bookmark, Connors decided to return it.

“I thought, maybe the librarian will think its funny and I’ll give her a laugh,” Connors said.

“We did get a laugh and we did enjoy getting it,” said Ryea, who was not sure if the book would go back into circulation.

The book is in excellent condition and, according to Amazon.com, remains a highly regarded work on the country’s 26th president. Roosevelt became president in 1901 when William McKinley was assassinated and was elected to a full term in 1904. Hagedorn wrote the book shortly after Roosevelt’s death in January 1919.

“Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world’s literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work,” a description states on Amazon.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.