FAIRLAWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – They say better late than never. A New Jersey man pushed that to the limit when he returned a library book 53 years late.

The year was 1966 – Vietnam War protests were raging, Lyndon Johnson was the president – and in Fairlawn a 13-year-old kid checked out “The Family Book Of Verse” by Lewis Gannet.

That was 53 years ago – now 19,345 days overdue, reports CBS2’s Scott Rapoport.

“We never saw it again,” said Dominick Tarquinio, vice principal of Memorial Middle School, who was shocked when that mysterious student – now an adult – came in and said he had something to return.

After more than a half a century, the former student had brought the book back.

“When he asked my name I told him I can’t give it to him because I was in the witness protection program,” said 65-year-old Harry Krame of Fairlawn. “I took it out to read and never brought it back.”

Krame says he found the book recently while cleaning out his basement and started to feel guilty.

“It lasted a few seconds,” he said. “It was like, I still have (it), sorry about that.”

He says he knew at that moment he had to take it back, but had trepidation.

At 10 cents a day, that’s about $2,000 the school reckons. But not to worry.

“We’re not looking to collect,” said Tarquinio

The copy of the “The Family Book Of Verse” was from 1961, when the cost of the book was $4.95.