Contributed by Mary Ofstie on behalf of the Friends of the Hopkins Library
Sorting through materials for the Friends of the Hopkins Library summer book sale, I discovered a charming old book, The Little Boy Book, by Helen Hay. The book, copyright 1900 by R. H. Russell Company, is a collection of whimisical poems writen from a small boy's point of view, illustrated with enchanting pictures by Frank Verbeck. On a loose page, tucked in the middle of the book, was a letter addressed to Wendell from his grandfather Frank Peavey Heffelfinger. Mr. Heffelfinger was given The Little Boy Book on his third birthday as part of a gift exchange "between two babies whose parents were friends." Through the years the book was misplaced until 1952 when Mr. Heffelfinger found it at his home, "Highcroft." He then gave it to Wendell as a Christmas gift.
Somehow The Little Boy Book was donated to the book sale. The book's uniqueness made us reluctant to sell it. Was it possible we could locate someone in the family? Would they even want the book? The FRIENDS decided to try. I contacted Ancestry.com, the Minnesota History Museum, the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis Central Library to no avail.
One day a dear friend of mine, Dorothy Karlson, called "looking for a Swede who can sing" to accompany her to a speical worship service. Meeting the first requirement, questionable in the second, I accepted her invitation. Dorothy, a popular storyteller and retired teacher, loves children's literature, so it seemed natural to tuck The Little Boy Book under my arm when we met. Thinking she had recently heard her daughter mention the name Heffelfinger, Dorothy learned that her son-in-law had a client named Reed Heffelfinger. Reed is indeed related to Frank Heffelfinger who is her great uncle and Wendell is her cousin. She'd love to have the book! The next day, at my home, we chatted over an hour about the book and her family. Reed brought a family album and we were able to locate some of the people mentoned in the letter. The Little Boy Book has found its rightful home.