Oakland librarian collects ephemera left behind – SFGate

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Oakland librarian collects ephemera left behind

Nobody knows how long the story of yearning and regret, hope and romance had been hidden away inside a book at the Oakland library, but there it was – a melancholy slice of two lives – spelled out on yellowed paper.

“Remember, I love u sweetheart,” said the blunt pencil lettering on the back side of an old flyer. “The past is the past, so let’s not Take it home with us. I just want to love u, and be happy.”

For decades librarians at Oakland’s main library have collected the scraps of paper ephemera left behind in returned books, shoved into nooks in the library shelves or secretly slipped to librarians.

The collection ranges from half-done to-do lists to childish notes about gossip and crushes passed in the hush of the library children’s room. There are letters of adult love and tragic scrawlings of lonely longing, perhaps used as bookmarks in pulpy romance novels.

 

Perplexing postcard

 

The most compelling library scraps, she said, are both beautiful and perplexing, like the black-and-white postcard/bookmark of a couple embracing.

“Lynn,” the note from Frank on the back of the postcard begins, “this picture always makes me think of love and that always makes me think of you.”

But Frank seems both conflicted and moved by the warmth of the pictured couple’s embrace.

“They seem to have a couple habits we no longer share, but the most strong we certainly do – because I love you. Happy Valentines Day.”

The intrigue and mystery of the note is thrilling, McKellar said.

“You don’t know who used this as a bookmark, Frank or Lynn,” McKellar said. “Was their romance dead and this meant nothing, or did it mean a lot and they wanted to always have it with them?”

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J.L. JARVIS