For those of you not in the know, the blog and the podcast are not the first iteration of the Banned Library in mass media. Aubrey “Grandpa” Banned was also a librarian from the beginning of the twentieth century until approximately 1950 when he disappeared deep sea diving off the coast of Louisiana. In that time, Grandpa Banned wrote a weekly history column in the Bannville Sentinel, put out a library newsletter that continues to this day, and produced a weekly radio show. Often, he merged the three, reading out the old time musings he wrote for the paper on the air waves. Most, if not all, of Grandpa’s writings exist in one form or another and we present them to you now.
“How the Book Drop Got Its Name” by Aubrey Banned
When libraries were young and the piney woods of Mississippi were still a dark and mysterious place, folks felt safer about leaving things out. They left their laundry to hang on the line. They left apple pies sitting to cool on a window sill. And if they could not make it to the library before closing, they felt safe in the knowledge that laying down a pile on the front steps of the Banned Library meant the librarian would collect them in the morning and charge them for the dew damage.
That is, of course, before Thaddeus T. King came to town.
If the man had friends, they would have called him Thad, but because he was the most evil person anyone ever met they just called him “King,” cause this is America and all free and democratic people know that king’s are the bane of the working man.
Nobody knows where King was raised, but all agreed that place was either a whorehouse on account of his appetite for young lady’s beds or a saw mill because he liked to cut down trees. How he arrived in Bannville was another mystery because one morning Everett Magee of the Banville Sentinel walked out to deliver the morning edition and found King in the middle of the street, half dead from dehydration and half alive from the waist down if you get my meaning.
What everyone can agree on was King’s feud with the local librarian, my mother Vannie Banned. It all started one summer afternoon so hot they said you could see the water evaporating out of your own skin. King wandered into town from the woods and thought he saw an angel enter the library. Turned out it was my grandmother. He followed her on in and hounded her about getting a library card, but she would not give him one. Seems even back then a man needed a proper place to hang his hat to borrow from the library, and King could only put down “wudz” when asked to fill out an application.
Despite my mother offering any book in the house, King claimed to feel hurt and shocked that she would not trust him to loan out a book. The librarian would not allow her spirit to bend, no matter how hard he pleaded, so he walked out in a huff. Later than night, the books started disappearing.
People claimed to have left their books on the doorstep, just like always, but in the morning they were gone. When Vannie asked they no longer do that, the books began disappearing from houses. When people began locking their doors to protect from this book thief, the muggings began. It was a horrible time that the county never recovered from.
Well, after a while Vannie got tired so she set herself a trap. One night she got a couple of guys to help her drag a big ole box up to the top of the library roof with a bunch of rope. After putting a couple copies of Silas Marner down on the front steps, Vannie waited.
She did not wait long.
King tiptoed up to the library just after ten at night. The moon had not yet risen, but Vannie could see his outline in the street. She waited until he had a hand on the books, then she shot him dead with the rifle she had also carried up to the roof with her.
After lowering herself down from the rope she had tied to the box, she greeted the sheriff who had come hearing the shot. He congratulated her on her fine marksmanship and Thaddeus T. King was buried in a shallow, unmarked grave outside of town, his soul condemned to eternal torment for what he done.
A few years later, a man in New York started using a drop box for people to put their books in after hours. Named it "book drop" cause you would drop your books in.