The Popcorn Stand: Bookman would have loved this case

I’m sure this is a case Mr. Bookman would’ve loved to crack. But alas, the perpetrator came forward on his own.

Webb Johnson recently returned a book to a San Francisco library — 100 years late — and without fine. One could imagine the fines that would have been piled up over 100 years.

And of course, the book was appropriately named “Forty Minutes Late.” Johnson’s great grandmother checked out the book from a San Francisco library — in 1917. She died a week before the book was supposed to be returned.

It had actually been more than 20 years since Johnson found the book as he found it in 1996. One would think he could have negotiated with the library to pay only 20 years’ worth of fines.

But in the ultimate in taking advantage of a “fine forgiveness program,” Johnson decided it was time to return the book and he was let off the hook.

Mr. Bookman, of course an appropriate name for a library detective, I’m sure wouldn’t have been as gracious. Not based on this scene of “Seinfeld” featured in a wonderful episode of the TV show in which Bookman was on the case, visiting Jerry’s apartment in an attempt to retrieve a book that was overdue 20 years.

I can imagine the excitement of Bookman if he was placed on a case trying to track down a book that was overdue 100 year.

Lt. Bookman (how does a library detective rise to the rank of lieutenant?) was portrayed by wonderful character actor Philip Baker Hall.

I wonder if anyone has ever been arrested for not returning an overdue book? That headline would be easy: Booked for overdue book.

— Charles Whisnand


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