Watch CBS News

'Making Amends,' Wisconsin Woman Returns Children's Book To Queens Public Library 63 Years Late

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A library in Queens got a big surprise in the mail in the form of a book - a collection of Paul Bunyan stories that was checked out more than 60 years ago.

CBS2's Jessica Layton spoke with the woman who returned it, adding a new chapter to the old book.

"It was due July 10, 1957, so I would have been 10," said Betty Diamond.

Once upon a time in Whitestone, there was a little girl who was incredibly thrilled to sign out books from her public library.

"I just remember the feeling of wonder," Diamond said.

But there was one book, "Ol' Paul," that for whatever reason she just didn't return on time.

Days overdue became months overdue, then 63 years.

"My memory is that it was overdue and I was too embarrassed to return it," Diamond said. "So as little kids do, well then, let's just pretend it didn't happen."

Diamond, 74, now lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She decided it was finally time to call the Auburndale branch of the Queens Public Library and fess up.

"I was just having a conversation with some friends about making amends and it was just like, you know, it's time. I'm going to return this book," she said.

"It is wonderful to see a book returned after 63 years, especially pretty much in the condition that it was checked out in in 1957," said Nick Buron, chief librarian of the Queens Public Library, which celebrates 125 years on Friday.

"Whether it's for children's books like this, whether it's for learning a language ... The library is here for the community," Buron said.

When Diamond mailed back the book, she included a letter and a $500 check as a donation to the library.

"It just seems so generous. 'Here, take a book. We trust you to return it.' And most people do - I did, eventually," she said.

It's a tale that teaches it's never too late to do the right thing. And when you do, there's a good chance you'll be met with kindness.

Diamond was not fined for the overdue book. The donation was too generous.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.