by David Tesitor
WALSENBURG- It is not often our small town makes international news, but recent events have cast Walsenburg in a most favorable light. Unless you have been in a cave the past week, you may have heard. The story was originally picked up from an article written by the Arizona Republic. It was then picked up by the Associated Press, then by Charles Osgood of Sunday Morning, then the NBC Nightly News this past Tuesday. Everyone is asking, Who done it?
The story originated when two overdue books were returned to the Camelback High School library in Phoenix, Arizona. The books were checked out in 1958. According to a letter received by high school librarian Georgette Bodine, the writer stated his family was suddenly uprooted and moved to Colorado. It is unclear whether or not they moved directly to Walsenburg. This is the first mystery.
The three paragraph letter was signed almost a graduate and signed off with these words: Sorry these 2 books are so late. The Journal was able to obtain a copy of the letter in an effort to ascertain the true identity of the mystery benefactor. The anonymous benefactor enclosed a $1,000 money order along with the explanation that two cents a day for 51 years comes to $745 dollars. The extra covered any additional fees which may have occurred.
The Journal also discovered the money order was purchased in Superior, Arizona the middle part of October and mailed from Walsenburg, CO. The mysterious package arrived on Bodine’s desk on Oct. 30. The only indication of identity was the return address, a post office box in Walsenburg.
When The Journal contacted Craig Pletenik, Director of Media Relations for the Phoenix school district and said we were a small weekly in Walsenburg, he chuckled and said, “This has been crazy. Everyone has picked up on this. The AP, the media, even NBC has called us. So, where is Walsenburg?” He went on to say the BBC aired it; blogs as far away as the Philippines, Europe and South America have made comments. Most are asking the same question, “Where is Walsenburg?”
The two books, Community of Living Things: Forests and Woodlands and Field and Meadows are back on the shelves, along with a copy of the letter. As far as the one grand is concerned, Bodine said, “The money will be deposited into the book fund.”
This writer has a general idea about the identity of the mystery person, but I will not reveal it. The person went to great lengths to keep the gift of $1,000 to Camelback High School, home of the mighty Spartans, a secret. They never counted on the worldwide publicity it generated, but if you are out there and want to sit down with me, I would welcome the opportunity to give some conclusion to this story. It is not every day Walsenburg is known for such great and good deeds even though we witness them all the time living in this hamlet.