Thursday, February 3, 2011

{Message In A Bottle ~ Or a Book}

"reunion - the state or condition of having been brought together again."
  Reunion is a powerful word.  It means that two things...or people...were once together.  Something happened and they became separated   for what could be moments or even decades.  So many little things can happen in between the togetherness...and that is what this story is all about.  It's a "Message In A Bottle" kind of story.  One where the odds are simply unbelievable.  

If you don't know me, I'm a picker.  A junker.  A couple months back my boyfriend and I were rummaging around piles of "junk" at a very packed antiques auctionhouse in Hightstown, NJ. We tossed our finds into a cardboard box and paid the owner for the lot.

One of the items in our box was something that actually caught my boyfriend's eye on our way out.  It was a light pink baby photo album from 1950. The wording on the front cover read, "Our Baby" in gold cursive. It was sitting alone in an area of the crowded warehouse that was filled with just furniture. How it got there I don't know, but it was just sitting on a table right near the aisle...within eye sight and arms reach. Just waiting for someone to pick it up.   

The inside cover contained the baby's name, date of birth, weight, and doctor's name, all hand-written by the mother. The pages of the album were filled with heart-warming black and white photographs carefully affixed by tiny pink photo corners.  Below most of the photos were hand-written quotes by the mother.  As we flipped through the pages we could see how loving of a mother this lucky little baby girl had. Her father was the photographer in many of the shots and the notes even told the story of the father hand-making the wooden rocking chair that the mother was sitting in.  The first thing I did was Google the name of the baby.  I just thought that maybe....maybe I could find out who this baby was.  Was she still alive?  Was she from New Jersey?  How did the book end up there?  Well, I got nowhere really fast and resorted to listing it in my online shop.  

As I described it, I wondered how such a precious piece of someone's history ends up in a dusty old warehouse, neglected and abandoned. I felt badly but figured at least a collector could enjoy the wonderful photographs or a creative artist could use them in an interesting art piece. Shortly thereafter, Etsy member "mydoodles54" (Kathryn) inquired about it, asking if there were any names in the album. She said that she might be interested in buying it for her hobby. She runs a website called Goodwill Genealogists (
and her hobby is reuniting owners with lost photo albums.  When I heard that, I immediately gave her the baby's information (which I hadn't provided in the item description on my shop) and Kathryn went to work doing some research of her own and posting about the album on her website and  I figured if she couldn't find the owner, no one could! 

The very next day, someone from clear across the country (Los Angeles, California) purchased the album from my shop. My heart sank, knowing that someone bought it before I could find the rightful owner.  When I checked the invoice, there was a note from the buyer:
"I am the baby in this album. Thank you, Bobbie."
Chills ran up and down my entire body and I immediately picked up the phone and told my boyfriend and my sister the incredible news. I sent Bobbie, now 60, a message asking her some questions about how she found the album and to Kathryn, telling her that her online research must have worked!  It turns out that Bobbie has been looking for this album for 20+ years. She knew, just from the photos, that it was her. I provided no names or locations in my description.

Without even knowing the personal information in the album, she told me everything....the first, middle, and last name of the baby and she even told me that there is a musical wind up part to the album. If you wound up a little screw, the Rock-a-bye Baby tune plays when you open the album.  She was right!  I said to my boyfriend, "DO YOU HEAR IT!? IT PLAYS MUSIC JUST LIKE SHE SAID!"  Bobbie said to me over email that she'd like to tell me the rest of the story because when I hear it, I'll be even more amazed.  So, we exchanged phone numbers and she's going to call me when she gets it. 

The most interesting thing about this whole story is that Bobbie never even saw Kathryn's posts about the album on Goodwill Genealogists or It's like she was drawn to my shop. Destiny? I definitely think so.  Even though Bobbie never saw Kathryn's messages or knew I was looking for her too, the work we did to try to find the owner stirred something up in the universe and reunited Bobbie with her long lost treasure.

So, I spoke to Bobbie on the phone just a few short days after I shipped the album out.  She was lovely and had a voice that made me feel like I had known her forever.  It turns out that Bobbie found out about the album in a roundabout way from an estranged sister.  The estranged sister (who may have seen Kathryn's message on emailed Bobbie's brother who then forwarded the link to my shop to Bobbie.  When she saw that it was, in fact her, she bought it right up.  By the way, I refunded her money…there’s no way I could profit from something like this!   So...Kathryn DID help reunite Bobbie with her album.  Thanks Kathryn!  So, even though the story ended up being a little less magical than I originally thought, it still proves that one or two individuals can make such powerful connections and change someone's life in a positive way.