It was just another day of going through the items in the lost and found department or at least it started out like other Monday. Then Marie, my supervisor, picked up a battered box that had been forgotten about for many years.
“Found this buried in the back of the shelf,” Marie shook her head as she set the box in front of me on the counter.
“Oh, really. How could that have been missed?” I knit my brow into a frown. I pulled the masking tape off to reveal several items, in a dented box, carefully wrapped in colorful gift paper. “These look like Christmas presents that never made their destination.”
“How odd.” Marie started going through current items. “Is there an address so the people can be notified?”
“The writing is faded and the paper is torn. Hopefully there is a card or something in the box that will give me a clue.” I started to take out packages laying them on the table.
“Good luck with that.” Marie picked up the phone and started to notify people to come and pick up their items.
“Oh my gosh,” I raised my eyebrows as I paused with a card in the air.
Marie paused with phone in hand. “What did you find?”
“Here’s a card with the date December 20, 1960. It’s addressed to Joe Spratt from Tumble, Ohio. There is also a letter. The return address is close to here.”
Marie hung up the phone. “Our policy says all items not claimed within sixty days will be donated to charity. Unwrap the gifts and see if there is anyone that can use them. Marie came over to my table and opened one of the gifts taking out a hand knitted baby’s layette with delicate lace on the edges. “Someone took a lot of time to make these things. “The card is signed Grandma.”
I rubbed my hands on my smock. “It seems such a shame. Someone must have been disappointed.This box was overlooked so that makes it our mistake and neither of us worked here at the time. Let’s try to trace the people. That new baby would be grown up now but it would be a treasure for the family to receive their lost items.”
Marie pushed a stray hair back into her pony tail. “It does say sixty days and we just found it. Let’s say sixty days from now. Hopefully we find someone to claim the package.” She hummed softly as she went about the days activities.
I went into the back room and found the binder with items listed between 1960 and 1970. Then I found a package listed for Joe Pratt and it was marked delivered. Strange. It was Mrs. Mabel Pratt who was sending it. I phoned the number listed but wasn’t sure if I would get an answer.Then to my surprise a girl answered. She told me Mrs. Pratt was her Granny. In a few minutes an elderly woman picked up the phone. She identified the items in the box and said they would come claim them before we closed.
It was three thirty and we were just cleaning up for the day. A young woman and elderly lady stood at the front desk. “We have come about the mysterious package you found,” the woman said as she leaned on her cane.
“Are you Mrs. Pratt?” I asked as I gathered up the items. “What do you want us to do with these things?”
“My son and daughter- in- law were killed in an auto accident leaving their daughter an orphan” she said, as she sat down.”It was just before Christmas in 1960. No one was looking for Christmas presents after that.”
“They were my parents. Granny made the items and was sending them to Mom and Dad. It is a miracle that they have turned up. They will be a treasure because Granny made them,” she said, as she ran her hand through the delicate lace.
“Thank you for contacting us.” Mrs. Pratt wiped her eyes with a lace edged hanky.
“Your welcome. I am glad to see the package returned to its owner even though it’s long overdue.” I said.
Mrs. Pratt took out one of the small packages. “Open this. You can keep its contents.”
I opened the small box covered in red brocade paper. Inside there was a single pearl on a delicate gold chain. “I can’t accept this.It looks expensive.”
“Consider it a gift from me in appreciation for your taking the time to locate us. Most people wouldn’t have, you know.” Mrs. Pratt said with a smile.
Marie walked up behind me saying. “We don’t normally take gifts for our services. We are just doing our job. These are unusual circumstances so the rules don’t apply.Is that young lady who the layette had been made for?”
“Yes, yes she is,” Mrs. Pratt answered, as she stood to leave. “Thank you again and God bless you.”
I fingered the necklace as I watched them leave. From now on we were going to make sure the shelves were checked every Friday. As long as Marie and I worked here there wasn’t going to any unclaimed items left on the shelves.