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Man, 89, who checked out a book in 1947 finally returns it in mint condition

A fairytale ending! Man, 89, who checked out a book called ‘Hitler’ in 1947 when he was only 14, finally returns it in perfect condition with the original reference card in it (and he didn’t have to pay a fine)

  • Bob Jablonski checked the book – ‘Hitler’ by Oden Rudolph – 75 years ago
  • He discovered it while cleaning up his childhood home and wanted to give it back
  • Fortunately, he avoided a potentially huge late payment fee thanks to the Jersey City Free Public Library which eliminated back fines in March 2021.

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An 89-year-old man who checked out a book as a schoolboy in 1947 has finally returned it to the library – in perfect condition.

Bob Jablonski, who grew up in Jersey City, told the Hudson Reporter that he found ‘Hitler’ – a novel by Oden Rudolph that warns the world against Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler – while cleaning up his childhood home.

Jablonski, who turns 90 in April, was eager to return it and contacted the James J. Ferris High School Branch to return it to the library.

An 89-year-old man who checked out a book as a schoolboy in 1947 has finally returned it to the library - in perfect condition.  Bob Jablonski (pictured third from right) told the Hudson Reporter that he found Oden Rudolph's 'Hitler' while cleaning up his childhood home

An 89-year-old man who checked out a book as a schoolboy in 1947 has finally returned it to the library – in perfect condition. Bob Jablonski (pictured third from right) told the Hudson Reporter that he found Oden Rudolph’s ‘Hitler’ while cleaning up his childhood home

Library staff were eager to see the condition of the book and learn about Jablonski’s memories of the library from his time as a schoolboy in the 1940s.

Although he couldn’t remember the exact details, 75 years after he first checked it out as a 14-year-old, Jablonski brought the book back to his old school 75 years after he first checked it out. The book was in perfect condition and even had the original reference card in it, the reporter said.

When he checked out the book, America and the world looked very different.

Harry Truman was president, World War II had just ended and the United States was gearing up for the beginning of the Golden Age of capitalism. At the 19th Academy Awards, “The Best Years of Our Lives” won Best Picture and Francis Craig’s “Near You” topped Billboard’s charts.

Across the pond that year, England’s Princess Elizabeth announced her engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. It was also the first year of the Cold War.

In a photo from the reunion, Jablonski posed with librarians and directors who now work in the library. Terry Hill, one of the library directors, appeared to be holding the book bound in a black cover.

In another lucky twist of fate, Jablonski was able to avoid a potentially massive 75-year late fee after the Jersey City Free Public Library eliminated back fines.

The Library Board voted in March 2021 to abolish fines in order to remove the barriers for people who want to borrow books and make them more accessible to everyone.

The vote made the library the largest fine-free institution in New Jersey.

The book was returned to the library of the James J. Ferris High School Branch after being first taken off the shelf in 1947.  Pictured: High school can be seen in this photo

The book was returned to the library of the James J. Ferris High School Branch after it was first published in 1947.  Pictured: High school can be seen in this photo

The book was returned to the library of the James J. Ferris High School Branch after it was first published in 1947. Pictured: High school can be seen in this photo

“The Jersey City Free Public Library decided to go free when we realized we were losing customers who might owe money for books they lost years ago,” deputy director Kate Davis told the Hudson Reporter.

“We want customers in the library, and we don’t want fines to stop anyone from coming back to visit us.”

Davis urged anyone who might find themselves in a similar situation to Jablonski’s not to be deterred from returning books to the library.

“If someone is in a similar situation to Mr. Jablonski, don’t worry about paying fines of thousands of dollars — even after 70 years, Mr. Jablonski returned the book without owing anything, and so do you,” she said.

Announcing the change last year, library director Jeffrey Trzeciak said: “The burden of fines being imposed on our customers is significant, and we recognize that delinquent fines are a form of social inequality, which creates barriers to access to library services. , often for those who need it most.’

Other libraries, including the New York Public Library in New York City, have also done away with their late fees for similar reasons.

Earlier this month, the Winnipeg Public Library said a copy of Baseball by Daniel E. Jessee had recently been returned to the drop box. The book was supposed to be out on June 18, 1974 – meaning it was 48 years late.

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