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Matt Weinstock

March 26, 2008 |  7:45 pm

March 26, 1958

Matt_weinstockd Library Week has passed and it is to be hoped that it stimulated and rekindled interest in reading.

It also stirred the conscience of a Studio City man named John. Let him tell it.

"Library Week unaccountably set me to thinking about my past as a library thief. In the summer of 1936 or 9137, when I was a sophomore at Illinois State Normal University, I became depressed at my prospects for the future and went off to New Orleans for the summer. My father was a railroad engineer so transportation was free.

"I promptly got a job as a bedpan commando at Southern Pacific Hospital. The salary was around $10 a week. My room on St. Charles Street cost $5.

"ONE DAY I came upon a copy of Ben Hecht's 'Count Bruga' in the New Orleans Public Library and I willfully stuffed it inside my belt. I got by the desk by legitimately borrowing George Borrow's 'Romany Rye.'

1958_0326_scheuer "Well, Library Week set me to feeling guilty again so I mailed back the purloined 'Count Bruga' with a letter of apology, including a copy of Hecht's 'A Child of the Century,' more or less in expiation.

"There the matter stands. It may never be resolved. The fact is that I mailed the book from San Francisco. And signed the letter 'Ben Hecht.' "

THIS IS the last week of school before Easter vacation and Mrs. Carmen Oldani is on the qui vive, wondering what her second-graders will dream up this time.

Last year when she asked what Easter songs they'd like to sing a sprout named Carey suggested "My Bunny Lies Over the Ocean."

IF THERE'S anything that irritates a lady named Betty it's a car backfiring in the night. Makes her jump. In fact she gets so unnerved she wishes backfiring were made illegal instead of shooting. Then when someone makes the usual exasperating explanation she could say, as casually as possible, "Sure I heard it but I thought it was just gunshots."

SHANE LESLIE, 73, Irish biographer and critic, spoke at UCLA a few days ago on Winston Churchill, his first cousin, whom he admires greatly.

A gay, witty forthright gentleman in Irish saffron kilts, Leslie charmed his audience as he did the publishers of the book "Twentieth Century Authors" when asked for his biography.

He wrote of himself: "He was born in London, on a site now commemoratively covered by Selfridge's Stores, where his remaindered works may be purchased cheap. At present he is chiefly known and dreaded as a reviewer. He still believes it necessary to read through a book before writing its review. He claims to have had an unsuccessful life though a happy one. He has often been blackballed but never blackmailed. He believes it is better to interest or amuse people than to make them rich or prosperous."

Quite a fellow.

AROUND TOWN -- A timid old gentleman asked Harry Kabakoff, newsboy at 7th and Broadway, "Can you tell me where I can get a raspberry bus?" Meant Asbury, of course ... In case a quizmaster asks you to name the first movie dog don't say Rin-Tin-Tin. Mrs. Russell Hale, vice president of the Glendale Kennel Club, which will hold its spring show Sunday, looked it up and learned that a Russian wolfhound named Czar appeared in Universal films 40 years ago ... As far as Jim Van Derpool is concerned, it's about time for whoever is furnishing the faith to move the Elysian Park mountain down on the freeway every time it rains to cease and desist. Makes him late for work ... Pico Novelty Co. on South Los Angeles Street has added to its line of luminous rear window admonitions, "Help Stamp out Car Stickers." That ought to do it.       

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