CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – As the saying goes, it’s better late than never.
That couldn’t be more true for a Cleveland Heights native now living in San Francisco who recently returned a Bob Dylan album he borrowed in 1973 from the University Heights branch of Heights Libraries when he was in eighth grade.
The library’s website says Howard Simon checked out “Self Portrait” by Bob Dylan, which was due back at the library in June 1973.
But that date came and went, he explained in a letter he sent in the mail along with the decades-long overdue album.
“As a recent retiree, I am taking the opportunity to turn my attention to some of the many vignettes of life that by dint of career and family have been neglected these many years,” Simon wrote. “In that context, I am returning with this letter an overdue item (by my count, approximately 17,480 days overdue as of this writing) … it’s quite late, and I’m quite sorry!”
He said in the letter that he found the record mixed in with his personal collection, sandwiched between two other Bob Dylan albums, “Nashville Skyline” and “New Morning.”
What is the fine for returning something to the library nearly 50 years late?
It turns out, nothing.
“The funny thing about this is that we don’t charge overdue fines anymore — as long as we get the item back, we see no need to penalize people,” said Sara Philips, manager of the branch, with a laugh. “We’re grateful that Mr. Simon returned the record. I’d say we can now call it even.”
Simon did make amends by donating what he calls “a replacement fee” of $175 since, “it isn’t in great shape,” he said.
But the cherry on top is the second donation Simon sent: a copy of his own album, titled “Western Reserve.”
It turns out he, too, is a musician. Inspired by Bob Dylan, of course.