Very overdue book

On June 8, 1944, a young Frank Ryan of Bound Brook checked out a library book about football, his favorite sport. Shortly after his library trip, Frank had surgery, and asked his mom to return the book.

That didn't happen, and now Frank's book, "Football Through The Years," is 71 years overdue. His daughter found it.

"So she found this book," Frank said. "And she said, 'What are you doing with this book out?' And I said, 'I don't know.' And she said, 'It's due back. You're gonna get charged.'"

Frank's wife passed on in December and his daughter had been going through some old possessions when she found the book. The book, which is in fine shape, documents great football programs and the high-stepping, head-butting gridiron glories of players like Johnny "Blood" McNally and Bronco Nagurski. But 71 years? How much trouble is he in? Not much, as it turns out.

"It's actually 20 cents per day for an overdue book, but the policy is that we cap it at $10," said Bound Brook Library Branch Manager Cindy Mangel. "It's not punitive. We just want to get the materials back so that other people can use them."

Bound Brook High School yearbooks, titled "Echoes," remain on file at the library. The 1948 version shows a football team picture with a brash quarterback, No. 12, Frank Ryan.

The 71 years Frank's had the book? They're the years that he married his wife, raised a family, even served as a two-term mayor of Bound Brook.

Though he didn't realize he had it, the book serves as silent witness to Frank's life and he doesn't want to give it up.

Cindy -- the librarian -- says that's all fine, since the book, copyright 1940, is really under no demand from readers and the library's modernizing its stacks.

She's inviting Frank down to the library to celebrate the occasion, however, since it's rare for a book that's been out for so long to find its way home.