Man Returns Book Overdue 73 Years to Library

Fee waived for overdue book

A Maryland man who said his love of history was fueled by a book he checked out of a western Pennsylvania school library more than 73 years ago has finally returned it.

Thomas McArdle, who now lives in Greenbelt, Md., was just 12 when he checked out a novel called "The Birth of Rome" in 1936. At the time he was a sixth grader at Chestnut Street Elementary School in Scottdale, Pa., about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

McArdle said he has kept the book in good condition and recently discovered he still had it. The book had moved with McArdle to many places across the country, including Boston, Arizona and Virginia.

"I have quite a book collection now and one day we were dusting the book shelves and I saw the book and thought it was time to return it," McArdle told the Daily Courier.

He sent it back to a cousin who still lives in Scottdale, who returned the book to the Southmoreland School District.

"He called me a few weeks ago and told me the story and said he wanted to return the book," McArdle's cousin, Joe Fagan, told the Daily Courier. "I explained to him that the fine for 73 years could be pretty steep. He said he didn't care, and he asked me who he should send it to. ... I told him to send it to me and I would give it to (the superintendent)."

Middle school principal Daniel Clara said officials are waiving the late fees in a gesture of good will. The school said it will put the book on display for a short period of time, then put it back into circulation in the library so students can read it.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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