Hidden treasure finds its way home

November 22, 2013

During my teenage years, my parents and paternal grandparents did a fair share of antiquing. For a time, my parents were regulars at the old P & P Auction Barn in Hillsboro on Saturday nights, and while they were busy trying to build their collection, one of my brothers and I were accidentally doing our best to tear it down.

There was the time we got into a fight and knocked over an antique hutch housing all the glassware that had been passed down to my mother through generations of her family. Not single piece survived, and I don’t know how she ever forgave us, but I’ve told that story before.

There was another time when we were rambling through house and flung open a side door to mom and dad’s bedroom. Between the door and their bed was an antique night table, and atop the night table was an antique bowl and pitcher. We busted the handle off the pitcher that day.

There was a time when we got into another disagreement and my brother took a big swing at me. He missed, but in the process of swinging his class ring flew off his finger. And it went right through the face of a rather nice antique clock that rested on the mantle above a fireplace in our livingroom.

By the way, when we got into the first fight, it was a kick my brother delivered in my direction, while he was laying on the floor, that caught the bottom of the hutch, instead of me, and caused to the hutch to tip over.

I, and rightfully so if you ask me, have always maintained that if it wasn’t for my brother and his kicking and punching, neither of those two “fight” incidents would have ever happened. And, I’m relatively sure that both fights were started by something stupid he did.

I mean, what other possible explanation could there be?

There was plenty of other old stuff we tore up over the years, but around the time I was 17 much of the antiquing my family did came to a near halt. That’s because a somewhat distant relative, at least to me, who I knew only as Aunti, passed away at that time. She lived in Springfield and her husband had been a highly acclaimed creator of wood furniture in his day. While he passed on well before Aunti, she had kept dozens of his better pieces that were worth quite a bit of money.

There is a long story to how it all came to be, but eventually my paternal grandmother and her brother inherited most of Aunti’s belongings. I’m not sure of all the details, but I do know that one Saturday we drove a big U-Haul truck up to Springfield to pick up many of the antiques, some of which my family kept, and some of which were later auctioned off.

That’s all rather boring. but there are a couple side stories to this tale.

First, since Aunti’s husband was named Jess, and he had left her with some money when he died, there was this yarn that if anyone in the family named their child Jess, the child would receive one of his diamond rings. As a youngster, I never could quite figure why, if my parents were going to name me Jeff, they couldn’t have just made it Jess, which would have made me or my parents the owner of a diamond ring. But they didn’t.

The other yarn was that Annie had a penchant for hiding money in various places around her home.

I’ve never got all the details straight on this one either, by I know that shortly after Aunti died, my grandpa or grandma made a trip to Aunti’s home with my grandma’s brother to see what was there and look for the hidden cash. And they found a substantial amount. To this day I’ve never been told exactly how much, but just knowing they found some aroused my curiosity. It should be noted that my grandfather was not the type of man to hide money from the government. And it would be a pretty safe bet that any share of the money he or my grandmother received went to what is now the Northside Church of Christ in Hillsboro.

But, the fact remained that my brother and I knew a good sum of money had been found, and when we took the U-Haul to Springfield that day load up the furniture, the only thing on our minds was digging through the house to see if any had been missed.

So, as soon as that truck was parked, out we jumped and off we went on a treasure hunt. Not too many minutes into our hunt, my brother and I pulled back some newspaper lining a drawer in one of the dressers. As we unfolded the newspaper, low and behold, there was an envelope. With our hearts racing we opened the envelope and inside was money – a few hundred dollars.

Now, part of me has always wondered why we didn’t tuck the money in our pockets and keep quiet for a while. But we were too excited to even think about that and took off running to show everyone the hidden treasure we’d found. To our disappointment the older members of the family took the envelope and never offered us any of it. But, since my grandparents had always been more than generous to us, we had nothing to argue about and resumed our search for more.

When we got all the furniture home and unloaded in a neighbor’s barn, we did a more extensive search through the furniture. And once again, in a drawer in between some newspaper, I found an envelope. And it had money it. This time though it was only about 20 $1 bills, and my siblings and I got to split it.

I’ve always had a feeling that my parents planted that second stash of money. I asked them the other day about it, and they acted as if they didn’t remember clearly, which may very well have been another ploy, so I guess I’ll never know.

When Annie’s furniture was sold, my parents and grandparents bought several very nice peices. With those additions to what they already had, their antique collections were fairly complete, or at least they had all that their homes could hold, and that was the beginning of the end of their serious antiquing days.

Today, many of the antique pieces my parents and grandparents collected, some of them from Aunti’s house, now have a resting place in my home. And the pleasure I get looking at them is much more valuable than that little treasure my brother and I found a few decades ago.

Jeff Gilliland can be reached at www.civitasmedia.com.