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Never too late

Mail-themed library book returned after 73 years

"The Postman" children's book
This copy of “The Postman” was recently returned to the Silver Spring, MD, public library — more than 70 years after it was checked out. Image: Montgomery County, MD, Public Libraries

After being 73 years overdue, a children’s library book explaining how mail makes its way around the world recently completed its own international journey.

“The Postman,” written by Charlotte Kuh and published in 1929, was checked out from the Silver Spring, MD, public library in 1946 by Mora Gregg’s mother.

Later that year, Gregg and her family left their home in the Washington, DC, area and relocated to Ontario, taking “The Postman” with them. Gregg recently found the book while doing some pre-spring cleaning and mailed it back to the library.

In a letter that accompanied the book, Gregg wrote that her mother had checked out “The Postman” on her behalf when she was 2 or 3 years old. She added that she and her mother read the book hundreds of times and that she had even read it to her own daughter.

“I treasured this book when I was a kid — the story of how the mail went from the letter box to our front door via many forms of transportation (especially the airplanes and the horses),” Gregg wrote. “The pneumatic tubes in Berlin fascinated me.”

Anita Vassallo, acting director of the Montgomery County, MD, public library system, said the organization is considering mounting the book in one of its branches for visitors to see it.

She said Gregg has no reason to expect a fine for the late return — Montgomery County doesn’t charge fines for overdue children’s books.

“This is the kind of thing that makes you smile,” Vassallo told a local TV station. “It warms your heart.”

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