Letters From the Editor

Mortimer Gaffington’s at it Again

‘Man charged in $2m theft of rare books from Yale’

The 21-year-old from Hamden, Conn., was in court last month on charges he stole $2 million worth of rare books and historic documents from Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where he held a summer job. After a tip from a suspicious autograph dealer who said he bought a signature by George Washington from Johnson, police in October arrested him in his dormitory at the University of Wisconsin, where he is a sophomore. In his desk, police say, they found a trove of valuable letters, maps, signatures, and early classic American novels. Johnson’s cache included signatures from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin; a letter dated 1780 from George Washington to the French General Count de Rochambeau; documents from Isaac Newton; and early copies of ‘Moby-Dick,’ police say.
This reminds me of a trip I took in October to my grandfather’s house: I found a book in his shelves called Andy Goes to Yale, a novel for teenage WASP boys, set in the early twenties, to prepare them for college (there was also, in the series, Thomas Goes to Princeton and Robert Goes to Harvard). The book is absolutely ridiculous; it’s plot can be summarized as: Andy goes to Yale, befriends non-self-hating Jew Ikey Stern (the campus money-lender), foils a ‘wily, oily Jap’ from stealing his money, and ultimately helps out Mortimer Gaffington (!), a good fellow forced to thieving by his father’s bankruptcy (Gaffington chooses to leave Yale instead of being expelled in order to preserve ‘Good Old Yale’s’ honor).

The book is still in Maine; I was an idiot to leave it there.
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Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. He is the author of three books, including his latest novel The Last Kid Left (NPR’s Best Books of the Year). His nonfiction appears in a variety of magazines, mostly GQ. More information can be found at rosecransbaldwin.com. More by Rosecrans Baldwin

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