Off he went to Princeton, and the book did not make the trip with him.
Nor did it make the trip back to the library.
Jim Dunham was that lifeguard, and he met the woman he was to marry that summer, and spent more time gazing into her eyes than reading about a destitute vagabond that no one could "sivilize," or so it seems, because that book wound up in a basement of Dunham's parents in Rehoboth.
Sad to say, Jim passed away in 2002, and it fell to his daughter, Lee, to sort out boxes of detritus in the house this summer. While doing so, she found the Finn book, which had been checked out in June, 1972.
(Perhaps he was so engrossed in reading about the Watergate break-in and subsequent arrests of Nixon's cutthroats that he forgot about ole Huck.)
Lee saw the right thing to do was to take the book back, which she did, dropping it off with a little note of apology in that envelope that held the DATE DUE card.
"I wasn't worried about getting hit with fees," she figured. "It was checked out six years before I was born so I have an airtight alibi."
Library worker Tyler Antoine found the book in the book drop and darted off to shot it to his boss, library director Alison Miller.
The original due date — July 19, 1972 — means it was exactly 16,875 days overdue.
Miller figured out the fine - $1,687.50 - but she is waiving it in Dunham's case.
My favorite part of the whole story is Dunham saying, "It's going back into their collection where it belongs, for other people to check out (finally)."
Ms Miller whispered (she is a librarian), "It really brought a smile to our faces on Monday. This is what we really do. This is what we live for.”