Imagine every “lost-and-found” box you’ve ever dug through while searching for those misplaced sunglasses or car keys. Places such as school gyms, bus stations, mall stores or sports arenas generally gather all forgotten objects together to await discovery or disposal. So, what accumulates there? Typically, cell phones, wallets, purses, water bottles, maybe a jacket or sweatshirt. Oh, and dentures. Okay, perhaps finding false teeth is not really “typical, ” but a surprising number of abandoned fake chompers have been discovered around the area, including in almost every lost-and-found box we explored, along with various and sundry peculiarities:
The Missing Music of Ladd-Peebles
How exactly does one lose a xylophone? Beats me!
“Musicians leave things often, ” Ladd-Peebles Stadium manager Victor Knight says. “Usually, it’s hats or instrument cases. But one day someone left a xylophone.” Normally, when one travels with a xylophone, it tends to be the raison d’etre of the trip. And Victor agrees: “I don’t know how you could forget it.”
Bellingrath Gardens’ Parking Lot Loot
The “Charm Spot of the Deep South” has many anecdotes of lost, found and Good Samaritans. Director of public relations and marketing Sally Pearsall Ericson shares a favorite: “Years ago, a visitor turned in a large sack of money discovered in the parking lot. The undisclosed amount of cash had fallen from the Wells Fargo truck.”
More commonly deserted items include baby strollers, shoes and the usual array of personal electronics. After all possible means of locating owners have failed, items are donated to charity. And Bellingrath has – on more than one occasion – recovered missing dentures, perhaps dislodged from guests experiencing the garden’s jaw-dropping beauty.
Dauphin Way Baptist Bible Caper
One of the largest places of worship in Alabama, Dauphin Way Baptist Church ministers to a flock of thousands. But on any given Sunday, some Baptists heed the Word from borrowed books because their own are missing.
“At least one Bible is lost or found almost every week, ” Dauphin Way receptionist Susie Freeman notes. “Usually there is no indication of ownership.”
Bibles aren’t the only important items found amongst the pews after services have dispersed. The church never found who owns a left-behind insulin pump, and to the person who left an e-cigarette in the toilet, don’t do that again.
Wind Creek Casino: Un-crutched
“We have an abundance of forgotten or discarded canes and walkers, ” Wind Creek Casino director of security Jeff Dingle says. “How people come in needing help walking but don’t need it when leaving, I don’t know.” It’s like the lame arrive at Wind Creek Casino, throw down their crutches and walk again. It’s a miracle.
Found cash has also made its way to the casino’s safekeeping – and lots of it. They once had $5, 000 discovered and returned within two hours, Dingle recalls. “The found cash is returned because guests are honest – and because our 900 surveillance cameras help keep them honest.”
Wind Creek also found a set of costly and quite realistic vampire fangs. Somewhere in Atmore, a wannabe Dracula is on the hunt for his incisors.
Welcome Center Family Reunions
Thousands of motorists visit the Alabama State Welcome Centers in Seminole and Grand Bay. Some ordinary items end up lying forgotten in a lost-and-found bin, like wedding bands, marriage licenses, and in a recent (and sure to be memorable) case, a spouse. “But she was left deliberately, ” manager Barbara Johnson says about the Grand Bay station’s drop-shipped significant other. “It was tense.”
Another loved one left behind was unintentional, this time in Seminole. A dad apparently forgot his son and drove away. “He came back all shaken up, ” Johnson recalls. “We told the father his son was fine. Then we suggested he find a way to bribe the boy into not telling Mom what just happened.” Best of luck to you, fella.
Rainy Mondays at the Jury Circuit
Every Monday in Mobile, hundreds of citizens are sworn in for jury duty, and it seems like they have all forgotten their umbrellas. “Mostly I see keys and phones, ” Robin Andrews, administrative assistant to the courthouse chief of police, says. But other employees note that books and wayward rain gear turn up just as often. Which is convenient if, you know, there’s a leak during a drawn-out civil dispute.
The Mystery of Chickasaw Pool
Two summers ago, a brokenhearted 5-year-old patron of the Chickasaw Pool reported his Spider-Man underwear missing. His mom pleaded for help with city recreation manager, Kathy Couey, for this was no ordinary superhero undergarment. The lad’s loincloth was a gift, and no replacement would suffice. They searched high and low. Just when they thought the Fruit of the Loom was doomed, they found it in the pool’s shower change room, Couey says.
Also at the Chickasaw pool, a few other personal items have, er, “run away” from their keepers. “We had a senior citizen jump in the deep end and lose his dentures, ” Couey reports. “Our lifeguard found the teeth at the bottom of 12 feet of water, ” Thus ending the chompers saga of the elderly swimmer who gummed for help.
Not OK at The OK Bicycle Shop
It’s not every day that a woman calls a bar and asks, “Do y’all have a bag of my clothes and jewelry there?” So, of course, the LoDa watering hole’s bartender, Miranda Pixley, remembers the day clearly.
“Apparently a couple had a bitter dispute, ” Miranda recounts. “He packed her belongings in a giant bag and left it here.” Attached was a note about the woman and a terrible nickname for her (which we cannot print or say without blushing). What can be repeated: “Come get your stuff.” And she did.
Missing a Friend at the Malaga Inn
And finally, a warm and fuzzy story about a warm and fuzzy lovey. When a former guest of the Malaga Inn implored management staff to find her missing stuffed black lab puppy, guest relations manager Chris Boyle came to the rescue of the saddened little 5-year-old girl from North Alabama.
Malaga’s staff found the plush pup in a pile of washrags. Boyle took the toy home, washed and returned it to the grateful owner. But the Malaga’s child and doll reunions have only just begun. Boyle adds, “Our lost-and-found box currently has two toy bunnies.” So if you’re hunting for your wabbits, call 438-4701.
text by emmett burnett