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Magna Carta – a Love Story

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The Schryver family, including parents, children, and grandchildren, standing against a railing in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress.
The Schryver Clan touring the Library of Congress and Magna Carta – photo by Betty Lupinacci

Armed with the extensive research on the background, content and effects of Magna Carta provided to docents, coupled with the “road map” provided by Nathan Dorn in his Gallery Talk, I have truly enjoyed giving tours of the Law Library’s Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor exhibit.

None so much though as the one I gave last Tuesday.

When I was initially asked to give the tour, I was told it was for a couple who had met at the Library and were now celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. I assumed that they must be former Library of Congress employees.

The real story is so much better.

She was a native New Yorker studying history at Trinity College. He hailed from Cleveland (for which I forgave him after he admitted that, at least this year, my Steelers were better than his Browns) and was a law school student at Georgetown.

Both had come to the Library’s Annex (now known as the Adams Building Science, Technology and Business Reading Room) one fateful day to do research. She ordered a multi-volume French history title that was delivered to a desk that she had been using. He was seated at that desk, not knowing it had been reserved. When the books arrived, he realized he had to move and as he gathered his research material, she came to claim her desk and the newly arrived books.

Evidently he saw something he liked because he stole the copy of her call slip that arrived with the books and, well, called her. He claimed that it was all by her design and that he had not really picked her up (my initial question to him).

They told the story in tandem, smiling at the memory. I was hooked.

After moving around a bit, the Schryvers settled in Northern Virginia. He practiced law, first in the steel industry and later international law for a major DC law firm. She was a librarian in the Fairfax County School system.

He told me that the spelling of their surname is from his Dutch ancestry, though both of them are also half Italian – which endeared them to me even more.

The couple was accompanied by their three children, their spouses and their seven grandchildren – all of whom wanted to be part of the celebration and some of whom wondered why the happy couple couldn’t have met somewhere normal, like in a bar. Whereupon Mr. Schryver and I joked with his eldest grandson on the virtues of using libraries for study and to meet women.

It was a thoroughly delightful morning. And yes, we did tour the Magna Carta exhibit, which they all seemed to enjoy. I managed to pull the younger grandchildren in by presenting them with Magna Carta gavel pencils which they promptly used to call their siblings and cousins “out of order”.

But as enjoyable as it was conducting the tour, I found chatting with the Schryvers and their family even more so.

Happy anniversary Mr. and Mrs. Schryver.

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