According to the Express & Star, 17-year-old David Hickman checked out “The Law for Motorists” from the Dudley library in 1964. Now, after 50 years Hickman decided to return the book, he borrowed. But only to find out that he owed the library over $52,000 in library fines. Leaving the Staff at Dudley Library astounded.

Hickman, now 76, told the Express & Star, “My car was a 1947 Ford Popular and, in those days, if you had ‘wheels’, you were top of the food-chain when it came to getting the attention of girls.”

It turned out that Hickman crashed with the vehicle of the Dudley, Massachusetts, the mayor at the time during an accident that happened that summer close to the Dudley High School for Girls. He was intending to utilize the book to support his case in court when he was facing a small traffic infraction. But the book was of no assistance to Hickman, unfortunately. Plus an extra advocate’s fee, the Dudley Magistrates’ Court fined him what is now the equivalent of £175 ($216), for “driving without due care and attention.”

“I been waving to the girls coming from the school and my car drifted into the middle of the road. I was shocked to see the mayor,” Hickman explained.

“I borrowed the book to look to see if I had any defense. My mother was furious when I went to court. People were more concerned with complying with authority back then,” Hickman said.

Worried that his mother would be angry, he tried to keep the automobile crash from her. What made matters worse for him was that the car crash was reported in the local newspaper under the heading “Crash With a Civic Touch.”

“I even tried to buy the newspaper hoarding that listed the day’s headlines so that she wouldn’t see it. Later, she came to see the funny side,” Hickman told the news outlet.

In the end, when Hickman relocated from Dudley to reside in Battersea, London, he brought the book with him.

He claimed that on occasion he would come across it and consider turning it in anonymously. He would also think, “I must pop that back next time I’m in Dudley.”

However, as the E&S noted, he ultimately made the decision to “face the music and take it back in person.”

The Dudley library staff determined that Hickman owed a fee of £42,340, or around $52,400 in American dollars, over the course of 58 years after he returned the book. The fine was computed as 20 pence per day.

Fortunately, the librarians “saw the funny side,” according to Hickman, and decided to waive the cost. Hickman thought it was “a great idea” when Dudley librarian Sharon Whitehouse suggested donating the book to the Black Country Museum.

Sources: WesternJournal, Express & Star, Mirror

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