Widow returns book 74 years overdue

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JACKSON, Calif., Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A California library said it refused to accept a $2,701 payment from a 95-year-old woman who returned a book her late husband checked out 74 years ago.

Hazel Severson said neighbor Laurie Gibson, 79, stumbled upon the Amador County Library's first-edition copy of "Seaplane Solo," an autobiographical account of Sir Francis Chichester's 1930 flight across the Tasman Sea, while cleaning at the Severson home and the widow immediately knew what to do with it, The Sacramento (Calif.) Bee reported Wednesday.


"It was the library's book," Severson said. "I wanted to get it back to them."

Severson, who still owns her house but currently resides at the Merrill Gardens at Greenhaven assisted living facility, said she returned the book with the help of Gibson and husband Jim Gibson, 77. Severson offered to pay the 2-cents per day late fee, now totaling $2,701, but library officials refused.

"I don't want people to think we'd make her pay," librarian Laura Einstadter said. "We were happy to have the book back. It's lovely that she and the neighbors cared enough."

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