Case files from the Library Detective

Case # 401: A leech lopes by a service station…

Sometimes a scientist needs a little help from a humanities major.

I’m a Museum librarian…mild mannered…quiet…a not-so-secret super sleuth. If you need an obscure reference from the 1600s, help finding a book on horned toad recipes, or the name of King Henry the VIII’s second wife’s 3rd cousin-by-marriage’s pet hamster, I’m your gal.

It was a bright and sunny afternoon when Dr. Bronwyn Williams strolled into my office in need of my special investigative talents. She was a dark-haired dame, with eyebrows that looked so much like caterpillars I expected them to crawl off her forehead and pupate while we were talking. She was desperately looking for assistance in determining a more precise locality for the kidnapping of a semi-terrestrial leech (Haemopis septagon) that ended up pickled and in the Non-molluscan Invertebrate Collection.

The client…and the eyebrows.

Yech! Leeches! I hate leeches. My skin was crawling just thinking about that desiccated corpse floating in ethanol. Yet, because it’s my job and I love the challenge of tracking down missing information, I took the case!

There was only one clue: a hastily scrawled hand written label…and the specimen itself.

The clue.
The dead body.

That’s it. Nada. No other information was provided on the label, or in the catalog book, and the leech certainly wasn’t talking. So, we have an unidentified service station in E. City, NC, and a collector by the name of R. Mann.

Time to put on my thinking hat. Hmm, I wonder if I might access online the city directory for E. City for 1975 to determine what service stations existed then?

Cities used to publish printed city directories, listing each resident and business by name, address and phone number. How things have changed…

Hot on the trail, I checked the online resources of the State Library of NC and found a digital version of the 1962-1963 city directory for E. City.  

The directory.

There they were, numerous people named Mann—several who worked at “Mann’s Auto Sls & Ser,” with three of those having first names starting with “R.”  Looking at the last directory entry below, there is an address for Mann’s Service Station. I knew I was getting closer.

The list. Addresses have been redacted to protect the innocent.

But this was in 1962/63. Was it still there in 1975 when the leech met its untimely demise? A bit of gumshoeing around Google Maps revealed there is a Mann’s Auto today at 810 Sawyer Street in E. City. Eureka!

The crime scene (circa 2008).

With a bit of detective deductive reasoning, I’m assuming it’s the same business as was there in 1962, and therefore 1975. Case Closed!

Another case solved by the Library Detective.

Open Clip Art Library by centroacademico

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