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Book thief could learn something from heist



Book thief could learn something from heist
by Mister Mann Frisby Daily News Staff Writer

For more than three years Toni Nash has been the biggest bookworm in
town. When she wasn't dipping into a yard sale for a paperback, she
was dodging into a used-book store for hardcovers in her quest to
start a historical library at the Belmont Mansion in Fairmount Park.
But one night last month, after catching a concert with friends,
Nash found another car parked where she had left her station wagon on
Hortter Street in Mount Airy. The Wayne resident realized the
literary treasure that had been in the back of her 1985 Chevy
Caprice also was gone. "I'm not a screamer, but I screamed internally
that day," she said. "I didn't want to believe the car was gone, but
it wasn't until the police officer asked me if I wanted to file a
report that I thought, 'The books!' " Nash had collected about 150
books in three large plastic tubs that were in the back of her car.
The books focused on early- American history and were to be donated
to the Richard Peters Center for Study of American History at the
mansion. Peters was a Pennsylvania assemblyman who served on the War
Board during the Revolutionary War. He was also an intimate friend of
George Washington and a confidante of Benjamin Franklin. "I planned
to take the books in earlier that day, but I figured, 'It's all
right, I'll take them tomorrow,' " she said. "And what hurts is that
they probably thought they were getting something else, and when they
saw that it was books in the Tupperware, they probably dumped them."
The police are investigating, but have no suspects. Collecting books
for the library had brought great joy to Nash. As vice president of
the American Women's Heritage Society, she sees the founding of the
library as her duty to preserve history for Philadelphians. "We are
keepers of a very important part of history," she said. "It's also
important to us because Richard Peters was very influential during
the Revolutionary War." Since the theft of her car and prized book
collection, Nash has renewed her work. She already has found 18 more
books, which she stores in her home for safekeeping. The library
project has become so important to her that she doesn't know whether
she misses her car or the books more. "Normally it would be the
wagon, but when I think about the kind of person who stole my car, I
couldn't sit in the seat anymore," she said. "I'd rather have the
books."

=A91997 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.




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