... Short clips, spice of life stories, from a community memory
Editors' note: At any weekly meeting of the SilverStringers, someone usually raises a hand and suggests that we do a composite story on some specific theme. The idea started several months ago and has proven quite successful. And so we move into yet another cooperative effort, this time recounting those small memories of things, people and incidences that have been lost and sometimes found.
Some of the tales are trivial, others relate to important matters. But all tend to reflect on human nature, the frailties, the honor, the priorities we set for ourselves -- and sometimes the humor. Enjoy, for there is no tragedy here:
... See how smart God was to leave me single?
by Virginia Hanley
When I began working in Boston in 1968, every morning I would take the B&M train from Melrose Station. But first I would walk over to the small grocery store and buy a newspaper (the Globe, of course). One morning as I walked up to the door of the store, I noticed a small piece of paper on the ground. When I picked it up, I realized it was a folded $20.00 bill.
When I went inside I told the manager I had found a sum of money and, if anyone came looking for something they had lost, I would be back the next day.
As I came near the store the following day, I saw a young girl, in her early 20's, I'd say, standing there tensely watching the people. When she saw me, she quickly said, "Did you find some money yesterday?" I said, "Yes, can you tell me what it was?" She said, "I lost a $20.00 bill folded four times." That was the right answer so I gave her the money.
She absolutely burst out with her "Thank you's", "I'm so happy to get it back" and so forth. And then proceeded to say, "I told my husband I lost it and he DIDN'T BELIEVE ME." (emphasis mine) "I'll call him just as soon as I get to the office so he won't be mad anymore." And she ran off, smiling and relieved.
I stood there looking after her, thinking "If my husband ever accused me of lying about anything, I'd chase him out of the house by throwing every pot and pan and dish at his head and he wouldn't get back in until he apologized."
See how smart God was to leave me single?
... honesty brings joy to many people
by Natalie Thomson
When I told a neighbor of mine about this happy Feature, soon to appear in the Melrose Mirror, she offered a reverse experience, but equally as dramatic and pleasureable.
My friend, Johanna, told me about finding a small, crumpled green paper ball near the elevator on her floor. Upon examination, this neat little lady was holding a wrinkled ten-dollar bill! But whose? Could it have been a visitor that dropped it?
There are one hundred apartments in the eight-story building for Senior Citizens where we live. Most are occupied by single folks, some by couples, and a few residents are disabled younger people.
Wait! She thought of Sandra, who lived down the hall, and who often had difficulty manipulating her wheelchair and the myriad possessions she had to carry in the cold weather.
Johanna asked the building secretary to question Sandra about the money and if the answer was "Not mine," Johanna would be ten dollars richer!
The answer was the exact opposite. The secretary, and later Johanna, listened to the story of the black day Sandra had had when she couldn't find her ten-dollar expense and lunch money. Her loss had meant borrowing money all day from near-strangers for incidentals. To return home and become financially stable once again was enough to make one want to dance and spin their wheelchair! Somehow Johanna was the one who felt richer.
... the fiver was pressed so flat I thought it was part of the shoe.
by Isaac Strickland
Well, no good luck stories here, of people returning goods I have lost. On the other hand, on our motorhome retirement trip around the country, I was awakened at 3 a.m. one starry night in upper New York State -- by the absolutely brilliant light of one planet -- which one I don't know.
It was a glorious sight, millions of stars, so in my PJs, I stepped out of the trailer to observe nature. And there, reflecting that starlight, was a beautiful little sheath knife stuck into a young maple, beside me. Eye level. It had only a hint of rust on it, but there was no way we could find the owner. I still have it.
I enjoy good knives. Once, in Switzerland, I bought for $7US a very handsome Victorianox Swiss Officer's jackknife. I carried that piece for years and opened many a bottle of wine with its corkscrew. But one day, in downtown Melrose, it slipped through a hole in my pocket and was gone. In spite of the fact that I had engraved my name and address on it, no one ever returned it.
But my luck has been long to the good side. One day, a long time ago when we really needed every penny, we stepped out of our car at the mall, and my wife picked up an envelope containing something over a hundred dollars. Again, how would you find the rightful owner? We tried, and then bought a new dinette set.
But the most colorful instance of Lost and Found was in the mall lot by Stop and Shop in Saugus, the next town over. I pulled into a slot near KMart, and there, at my feet, were a pair of discarded, ugly, stinky, old lady's shoes. They were awfully misshapen, and had been owned by someone obviously very overweight. In the heel of the left shoe, pressed so flat it was almost part of the leather, was a grungy five dollar bill. I threw the lady's discarded shoes in the trash, and charged her five bucks for that service.
What I'd like to find is a million. Maybe two mil.
... I learned that there are more honest people than I thought!
by Ella Letterie
When I was vacationing on the Island of Rhodes, in order to reach the Acropolis, we had to ride a donkey up the mountain. I had a sweater, a handbag, a travel brochure, and a camera. Needless to say, I was loaded, and forgot the camera which was strapped to the animal. When we got to the top, there were many shops selling garments that the natives had made. I browsed around and then all of us had to walk down the mountain.
As I went down, the young man who guided the donkey up the hill, tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I had left the camera on the donkey.
I had not missed it, and he could have just kept it, but it proved to me that people are more honest than dishonest.
... arrows point the way to a full congregation
by Bernadette Mahoney
In 1964 my friend, Barbara, and I went to England. We stayed in London for four days and then booked a Cathedral Tour at Frames' Tours. The tour took us all around England's countryside as well as to Scotland and Wales. We went to places you have heard of such as Cambridge, Oxford, and Stratford-upon-Avon and places you have probably not heard of such as Lockerbie, Ambleside, and Windermere.
Halfway through the tour, we arrived at a quaint little town whose name I have forgotten. I decided to find out if there was a Catholic church nearby where I could go to Mass in the morning (Sunday). At the desk I was told that there was a 7:00 A.M. Mass at a church that was five minutes away if I took the shortcut. That was perfect. We were leaving at 9:30 A.M. Barbara suggested I had better go on a trial run to see whether or not I could make it in five minutes. I could.
When I arrived at the church the next morning, I found one thing I had missed on my trial run. The front entrance was being repaired and there was an arrow pointing to the back of the church. I didn't have that much time so I stepped up my pace. Another arrow showed me where to enter. I went through one empty room into another and then went into the third room. And there I was standing on the altar looking down at the congregation who were looking up at me. I could feel my cheeks getting warm and I quickly located the stairs and went down.
Fortunately, someone who was pointing to an empty seat caught my eye and I went over and sat in it. I closed my eyes and silently thanked God that the priest was a little late.
... two ladies in the subway
by Natalie Thomson
I held the door for two elderly ladies (my age) entering the Irish restaurant (Bread & Bits) on Main Street in Melrose and they remarked how nice people are.
One of them took me aside and told me about their jolting experience the day before. They were coming home on the "T" from an outing in Boston. After changing a twenty dollar bill at the cashier's booth and going through the turnstyle in the underground station, they walked the length of the crowded platform, anticipating getting off near the stairway at their destination.
A man approached them from the rear and handed them a crumpled wad of dollars with the explanation, "You dropped this back there by that disabled musician. He asked me to return it to you."
Of course they returned to share their good fortune with the musician and have since shared the story of their lofty experience with all they meet.
... what was lost is found
by Virginia Hanley
My favorite story about finding a lost object concerns a beautiful ripe, juicy orange. It was a cold, raw, snowy day, just perfect for curling up with a sweet piece of fruit.
I had recently broken my leg but I could get along very well on crutches. As I remember it, this is what happened. I opened the refrigerator door and took out the orange. Then, I put the orange on the table and turned to get a knife to cut it. But, when I turned back, the orange was not there!
I looked all over the kitchen, on top of every counter and table, under the table, on the chairs - but no sign of the orange. Finally, I thought, Oh, well, I'll find it when it starts to rot, and took another orange out of the refrigerator.
I found it even sooner than that when I threw back the covers on my bed that night and there was the orange cozily perched on the pillow. THEN I remembered that, when I took the first orange out of the refrigerator, I thought 'My niece is bringing the kids over this afternoon, I'd better tidy up.' In straightening up the bedclothes, I put the orange down and forgot that I did.
November 3, 2,000