Book Returned to Virginia Library after 31 Years

By Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writer
On March 16, 1978, with Jimmy Carter in the White House, Dick Cavett on late night TV and hi-fis on sale at Hecht's, Sarah McKee walked into the Arlington Central Library and borrowed a book.
She was 39, a single mother of three and had just become a lawyer. She lived in a three-bedroom apartment in Fairlington that already was filled with books. But she was a literary "omnivore," and on this day her eye fell on Alvin M. Josephy's "The Patriot Chiefs," about great Indian leaders.
It was due back April 5.
This month -- three decades, one career, five presidents, three relocations, seven grandchildren and thousands of books later -- McKee happened to open "The Patriot Chiefs," spotted the library card in the pocket and thought: "Drat."
And so May 5 -- 31 years and one month overdue -- it arrived back at Arlington Library with a note of apology and a check for $25.
"To my great embarrassment, " the note said, "I recently opened this book and discovered it is yours -- not mine. My apologies for my tardiness."
A library spokesman, Peter Golkin, said it might be the longest overdue return in library memory.
"You know where you can borrow it."

She said that last year she moved many of her books to her basement to have her floors worked on and was in the process of bringing the books up from the basement, dusting and reshelving them, when she made the discovery.
In the process, she opened the Josephy book, looked in the back, "and oh, my Lord, it wasn't mine," she recalled.
"Drat," she thought. "I have to send it back."
She did so, mailing it first class.
Asked about the book, she said she could not recall whether she read it, adding with a laugh:

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