I recently spent several hours in one of the Lourdes Medical Center's waiting rooms. After thumbing through a few of the usual magazines I found a copy of the Reader's Digest and dove for it for the reliable jokes. That made me think of this story from 1970.
Sex story fouled up
By Jack Briggs
Herald Associate Editor
Published on February 8, 1970
Erma Zahn of Richland isn't exactly enthralled that her first attempt at prose received nationwide exposure in the Reader's Digest.
Last year she wrote to Saturday Review columnist Jerome Beatty Jr. telling how much she enjoyed his writing, and enclosing a story she'd heard.
If he used it, she urged him not to use her name.
Beatty used the story, and the name. But to make matters worse he made a mistake. The whole thing was then reprinted in January Reader's Digest and appeared as follows.
"Looking through the card catalogue at the public Library, Erma Zahn of Richland, Wash. found an entry that read, 'SEX: see librarian.' Apparently it caused untowards comment, for on a subsequent visit Mrs. Zahn noted that the entry had been changed. The card now reads 'SEX: for sex ask at the desk.'"
Despite what many readers assumed, it didn't happen at the Richland library, but Pasco. It was at least five years ago. And didn't happen to Mrs. Zahn, but to a friend.
Mrs. Zahn, wife of the manager of the nuclear-diversification department for Atlantic Richland Hanford Co., said there have been two types of reaction to the story.
Some of her frineds have been thrilled they know a "celebrity." She's heard other people have said, "That woman must spend all her time reading books on sex."
All her husband's correspondence, from back East had the clipping attached, and even her son's math teacher spoted it reprinted on the front page of a Denver paper.
"It's been somewhat of a source of embarrassment," chuckled Mrs. Zahn. "And it was an unpaid item. I didn't even get a cup of tea out of it."
By the way, to save you the effort of checking, the Pasco library's card file now reads: "SEX: Ask for book at desk."