As a teenager, I was extremely moved by the films of Director Frank Capra. I found his autobiography in the local library: "The Name Above the Title".
After reading his book I dearly wanted my own copy... but after searching for it in the local bookstores, and inquiring about special ordering it, I was told that the book was out of print. This was the mid nineteen sixties.
I SO coveted this book... it meant that much to me... and I contemplated keeping it. I thought about just telling the librarian that I had misplaced the book, and paying the fine. That way I would not have to feel like a thief. I could tell myself that I had compensated the library for the book.
Weeks went by as I went back and forth about this in my mind ... and I received a reminder notice from the library. By now I owed them a couple of dollars in late fines.
FINALLY, my better nature took over ... and as I walked up the steps to the library carrying Frank Capra's book, I had a marvelous feeling of destiny ... that somehow I would be rewarded for doing the right thing.
I remember thinking that other people would be as inspired by his Life story as I was, and that's why it should go back to the library - because it is so influential and such an example of determination and the overcoming of obstacles and eventual success - all accomplished so creatively and honorably.
How could I retain his book in such a Dishonorable way? I couldn't. I paid the late fees and returned the book.
Fast forward some 30 years. I had just relocated to the Ojai Valley in Ventura county California.
While exploring my new town, I notice a funky little used bookstore called "Bart's Books", and something tells me to park the car and go inside.
As I enter the store I see a rather confusing and labyrinthine arrangement of corridors and bookshelves in what used to be an old clapboard house. I don't see any subject headings anywhere... at least nothing large enough to be read from a distance, like you always see in the big bookstore chains:
"Autobiography", "History", "Anthropology", "Fiction" ... the bookshelves are just stuffed into the various rooms of the old house, inviting you to find your way around in an unhurried manner.
For some reason I drifted to my right while I was actually looking over my left shoulder at another part of the store ... and my right arm inexplicably reached out. When I turned and looked to my right, my outstretched hand was three inches in front of a used library copy of Frank Capra's autobiography. The other books surrounding it were obviously autobiographies as well.
As a tingle went up my spine and goose flesh appeared on my arm, I pulled the book out of the shelf.
Not only was it the same big hardbound edition that I had enjoyed so many years ago, it also had the dust jacket with wonderful photographs of the author, and it was nicely protected by one of those clear dust jacket protectors that libraries often put on their books. The copy I'd read so many years ago In Beverly Hills hadn't had the dust jacket. This copy was better. The used book price of $10.00 was penciled onto the fly leaf ... and I was more than happy to pay it.
As I approached the cash register, I noticed a big Siamese Cat curled up in a basket on the counter. As I petted him, he purred loudly and squinted up at me. The bearded, longhaired proprietor smiled warmly and handed me my receipt. Everything was right.
This book remains a treasured part of my library.