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My Unsung Hero: A belated thank you

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Time now for "My Unsung Hero," our series from the team at Hidden Brain telling the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. Today's story comes from Sarah Feldman.

SARAH FELDMAN: In 2001, my hometown of Houston was hit by a tropical storm, and I was on vacation in Connecticut. We couldn't go home that day, of course, so my father decided to take me to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in Yale University. I was around 13 or 14 years old, and I was asking this gentleman named Bill Carver a bunch of questions like, how do you keep all these rare books OK, and, what's the oldest book you have? And then I told him about how my grandparents went into my house that was flooded, and all of my books - lots of them 'cause I was a big reader as a child - were destroyed. And he said to me, Sarah, I'm going to send you a book in the mail so you can start your collection again.

And he did, and I got a really nice book called "The Medieval Book" by Barbara A. Shailor. And I also received a letter in the mail, and I'd like to read it to you. December 8, 2001 - dear Sarah, I have often thought of you and your family and that terrible flood of 2000. He meant 2001. As promised, enclosed is a rather scholarly book which may be slightly mature for your age, but I thought it might help you shape your new library collection. And as the years progress, this book may grow in stature and value to you. Have a happy holiday season. Wish you and loved ones all the best. Cordially, Bill Carver.

I want to tell him that I'm 34 now, and my life is great. I'm married. I have a dog. And my partner and I like to visit cathedrals in Europe and go to the Cloisters Museum in New York City from time to time, and I'm obsessed with medieval art. I actually sent the library a letter during the pandemic, but I never heard back. I'm not sure if he's alive still because he seemed old to me when I was 14 at the time. But I'd just love to tell Bill Carver that he changed my life.

SHAPIRO: Sarah Feldman lives in New York City, and you can find more stories from "My Unsung Hero" wherever you get your podcasts. To share the story of your unsung hero, record a voice memo on your phone, and email it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.