|Image source: www.pinterest.com|
Several weeks ago the folks at the iconic 42nd Street building of the New York Public Library in
Manhattan happened upon a box of old reference questions. These questions were ranging from the
1940s to the 1980s – asked by patrons. Spokesperson for the library, Angela Montefinise points out, the questions are compelling. And perhaps they speak to a gentler, more naïve
time. Perhaps they don’t.
Here are a few gems, lightly edited for
- Is it proper to go to Reno alone to get a divorce? (1945)
- I just saw a mouse in the kitchen. Is DDT OK to use? (1946)
- What is the life span of an eyelash? Answer: Based on the book Your
Hair & Its Care, it’s 150 days. (1946)
- What does it mean when you dream of being chased by an elephant?
- Where can I rent a beagle for hunting? (1963)
- Can you tell me the thickness of a U.S. Postage stamp with the glue on
it? Answer: We couldn’t tell you that answer quickly. Why don’t you try the Post
Office? Response: This is the Post Office. (1963)
- Does the New York Public Library have a computer for use by the public?
Answer: No sir! (1966)
And there was this typewritten note found on a cataloging card:
- Telephone call mid-afternoon New Year’s Day, 1967: Somewhat uncertain
female voice: “I have two questions. The first is sort of an etiquette one. I
went to a New Year’s Eve party and unexpectedly stayed over. I don’t really know
the hosts. Ought I to send a thank-you note? Second. When you meet a fellow and
you know he’s worth twenty-seven million dollars — because that’s what they told
me, twenty-seven million, and you know his nationality, how do you find out his