Kevin Duke was proud of his 16-year-old daughter who had just passed her driving test. This is a pretty big feat for teenagers, after all. He wanted to celebrate such a big moment, and what better way to do that than to give her a car? Of course, he would have to make sure that it is in good condition. While he was cleaning out the secondhand car, something made him stop in his tracks. What he found revealed that this was no ordinary car… In fact, it started to make him reconsider whether they would keep it or not.
Happy Sweet Sixteenth
When a child turns 16 years old, it means that they can finally get a driver’s license. This is the reason many kids tend to get a car for their sweet 16! Jada Duke was a lucky kid who fell into that category. Her dad Kevin got her a used car several weeks before the big day. He checked to see if it ran properly and fixed it up before giving it to her. However, his plan changed when he noticed an unexpected object.
A Starter Car
It was in January 2015 that Kevin Duke started to look for a car for Jada. She was turning 16 years old in March. After mentioning this, a customer at his job in the construction industry told him about this car that was for sale. He told CNHI News, “She told me that she had seen a car that would be a perfect starter car for my daughter.” This car was none other than a used Ford Fusion.
Doing Some Maintenance
“The brakes squeaked a little bit, but it was a good car,” he recounted after he took it out for a test drive. A couple of days after this, he bought it and brought it home. He first wanted to do maintenance on it to ensure that his daughter would not have problems. He went through all the parts of the car. He thought he did a pretty good job when he realized he overlooked the top glove compartment.
An Envelope Inside
For the sixth time, Kevin Duked pulled the top-dash compartment open. He said, “This time I noticed that the cover on the bottom was removable. I thought it might be dirty so I popped the cover loose; and when I did I saw the corner of the envelope.” Duke was curious as he sat there with the envelope in hand. He recounted, “I sat right there and read it, and bawled like a baby.”
For The New Owner
The envelope had been addressed to “New Car Owner”. It also said, “Important Info Inside.” Duke thought that it was only going to talk about maintenance issues about the car, although he found out he was wrong when he started to read it. The envelope came with a hand-written letter that talked a lot about what this car had gone through in the past. As he kept on reading, he had a hard time believing what his eyes were telling him.
Full Of Memories
“This car holds a lot of special memories for me. My home and everything in it is gone, this car is all that I had left to touch,” said the letter. When you buy used vehicles, it is only natural that you will want to know just how long it was used by the previous owner. However, Duke would find out something more than that bit of information. He was about to find out what this car had been used for before he decided to purchase it. Who would have thought that it had so much to tell him?
Going On Adventures
“My family filled this car with lots of love and other sticky things. We took two road trips, blasted ’80s and country music and rolled the windows down. I’ve changed more diapers in the backseat than I can count. There’s probably a sucker stick or a crayon hidden somewhere that belonged to my baby,” recounted the person who wrote it. By reading this message, Kevin Duke started to understand why this car had to go to someone else even if the writer loved it a lot.
A Couple Of Kinks
The person who took the time to write the letter took a moment to discuss a couple of kinks Kevin can expect from the car. “The dent on the rear drivers side fender and the dent in the passenger side door are where my daughter learned to ride… and crash… her bike,” it read. It was possible that Duke started to remember the moment he taught Jada how to ride a bike. Surely, she would not mind so much about such dents.
Apparently, the car came with the name Sylvia. The letter explained, “The very first day Mom got this car, we all rode around and Dr. Hook’s ‘Sylvia’s Mother’ came on the radio. The name kind of just stuck when… my daughter said that’s what we should name the car. So please don’t change her name.” As he continued to read, Duke started to learn more about the car and all the memories this unknown family had inside it. He began to learn more about the tragedy that sent the car his way as well.
The Tragedy That Struck
“I just wanted to let you know what a special vehicle you’ve bought. This car belonged to my mom. She passed away Feb. 25, 2015 in a house fire along with my 6 year old daughter and my aunt. The last time my mom drove this car was the day she left us,” the letter went on. Kevin was shocked to hear that this car had something to do with such a big tragedy. If it had so much meaning, why did they give it up?
Writing The Letter
The letter had been penned by a woman who is known as Sabrina Archey. She had been at work when the family home burst into flames. It ended up killing her daughter, mom, and aunt. Aside from having to deal with the grief of bereavement, there was also the fact that she now had to deal with the consequences of such a tragedy. It meant that she would be homeless as well! On top of that, she now had to look after her surviving daughter, who had not been at home at the time the fire started, on her own.
All That Was Left
After the terrible fire, the only thing she left was her mom’s car and the backpack her late daughter kept inside of it. Even though things were already bad, it got repossessed on top of everything else. “There was a mix up with paperwork and that’s caused the car to not be paid off by insurance. It’s very upsetting that I have lost my family, my home and now I’m losing this last link I have with my mom and child through no fault of my own,” Archey narrated. While she did not feel bitter, she did have a request.
No Stopping Repossession
Even though there was a supportive group of people who came together to help with the funeral, she still had a lot of financial burdens that she now had to tell with all by herself. Although the company that financed the car helped her out as much as they could, they did not have a choice but to take it away in the end. Before they got the car, she already went through all the parts to make sure she got everything.
Time To Write
As she went through the car one more time, she noticed that there was an imprint of a child-sized shoe on the dashboard! This was the spot where her daughter liked to sit. A flood of tears and memories poured out as soon as she saw this. It was then that she decided to write the letter to the person who would end up buying the Ford Fusion. Who would have thought that car was not going all that far away from her?
Letting It Go
Even though she had to give up the car against her own will, she said that she bore no hard feelings towards the new owner. In the letter, she said, “I’m not mad at you. I hope this car is the best car you’ve ever owned. I hope it runs for 100 more years. I hope the back seat is filled with kids and toys and random things.” Archey, however, decided to include a plea at the end of the letter. Even though she did not feel bitter, she did want it back one way or another.
She went on, “Life happened in this car. Love, joy, and adventure was had in this car. So now that it’s yours, please remember it isn’t just a car. It’s a memory. This car with all its quirks is the last piece of my family. Be nice to it.” Archey knew that this was where the memory of the family lived on. It was hard to let go of something so special. Soon enough, everything would come full circle.
As Much As They Did
Archey was heartbroken to see this car go, but she genuinely hoped that the new owner would love it the same way that her family did. In the letter, she added a special suggestion: “Play it a country song, Big Green Tractor was my daughter’s favorite song ever, or some Lynyrd Skynrd Freebird. That song meant so much to us that I played it at their funerals.” She truly wanted to let the new owner of the car know that it was special to the family.
Wanted It Back
Archey was also aware of the fact that the car might not even be with the new owner for a long time. She said, “If you ever want to sell Sylvia, please try to find me. I just paid for 3 funerals, I can’t afford to buy it right now, but hopefully I’ll be in a better financial situation if you decide later that she’s just not right for you anymore.” After he read that bit, Duke did not know what to do with the car. He wanted to look for Archey to seek her blessing.
Archey came from Greenup, Kentucky. Meanwhile, Kevin Duke lived in Flatwoods, a mere 15 minutes away. After he read the letter, he felt emotional. There was nothing to do but look for Archey and inform her that Sylvia was in good hands. It was a good thing that there was nothing difficult about finding Archey. Duke was so moved that she asked if it was alright to put the letter up on Facebook.
It Went Viral
After Duke took to Facebook to share the heartbreaking letter, it went viral right away. It gained even more attention when it was shared by a page called Love What Matters. It ended up getting 19,000 reactions from users all over the world. A lot of people sympathized with what Archey went through. Some thought it was a good idea for Duke to return the car to her. This was the moment that a citizen stumbled upon the story and took matters into her hands. Sharing the story simply did not cut it for them.
An Urge To Do Something
Over 800 miles away was Tammi Warrington in Kansas. She was completely moved by the letter. Upon reading its contents, she was struck by just how sincere Archey was when she wrote it. “It devastated me on her behalf,” Warrington explained to CJ Online. According to her, she remembered the time her father passed away. She knew it was going to be very hard to give up her 5-year-old child at the same time. She wanted Archey to get the car back. They started to look for a way to make this dream a reality…
Lending A Hand
When she first read the letter, she had no idea who wrote it originally. All she needed to do was to ask the person who put it on Facebook: Kevin Duke. Warrington then reached out to him to see if there was anything that she could do to help get the Ford Fusion back to the original owner. She did not expect to hear that Duke had already contacted Archey himself!
Raising The Money
Warrington and Duke worked together to compute how much they need to replace the car so that they can give the Ford Fusion back to Archey. They did not want her to spend any money on it. They arrived at the price of $12,000 in taxes to return it to Archey, pay credit card processing fees, and replace the car that he was planning to give his daughter. There was no way they can handle it on their own!
A Good Job
They set up an online fundraising campaign to earn the money they needed. In the beginning, they only raised several hundred dollars until they suddenly saw the amount $3,500 come in! Warrington then checked her email to find one message after another. It turns out that an Australian TV program did a story about it. After this, TLC messaged them to talk about the friendship between Duke and Archey on This Is Life Live. Duke agreed to go on TV if he could return the keys to Archey then and there.
They Returned It
For Duke, he only wanted to share what he considered to be a fascinating story. He even told CNHI News, “I didn’t want to make any money from it. If I could have afforded to replace the car, then I would have just given in to her.” Sylvia eventually came back to Archey, who was so happy about this turn of events. She could finally use the steering wheel that her mom used to hold. Kevin Duke managed to find his daughter a new car as well. We love the fact that she decided to call it Sylvia 2!
The Used Dresser
This next story revolves around another shocking discovery about another secondhand find. If you ever go to flea markets, yard sales, and thrift stores, you would know that there is a thrill that goes with turning up that “perfect” item. It almost feels like finding a diamond in the rough! A man by the name of Emil Knodell dropped by an estate sale in Missouri City, Texas. He found something that was already considered a steal, although he did not know that it came with such an important secret. What was it?
Attending Estate Sales
An estate sale normally takes place after a person passes away. A lot of times, the family want to get rid of the belongings that none of them want. There are certain cases when the family does not know just how valuable an object happens to be. They simply want to get rid of the things right away. This is the reason you can find great deals there if you are patient enough to go through everything. This is the reason the 67-year-old retired marketing director Emil Knodell found himself at the estate sale. He knew that it was possible to find treasure somewhere in the yard.
An Open Mind
The particular sale was being run by Premier Estates Sales Network. It was a firm run by people who knew how to value and price items, so there was a pretty slim chance that he would find something truly valuable or rare. However, he stayed hopeful and optimistic about the whole thing anyway. “I always come to a sale with an open mind because you never know,” he said during an interview. He was willing to go through a lot of items… it was a good thing his efforts were going to pay off!
His Attention Was Piqued
After going through so many items, his attention was piqued when he saw a used dresser. There was nothing flashy about it. It was only a wooden chest that had a marble top and three drawers. Apparently, it dated back to 1890, which meant it was a true antique. It was initially up for sale at $300, but the price has since been reduced to $100 by the time he got there! He knew that it was a great bargain, but he had no idea that the low price was only the tip of the iceberg.
Two Strong Men
The sale might have been organized by a well-known estate sale company, but it seems like they had no idea just how valuable this dresser was. Jeff Allen, a staff member at the Premiere Estate Sales Network, helped Knodell move the dresser all the way to his truck. Allen did not mind, and they started to load the huge dresser into the vehicle. As they did this, they noticed that there was something peculiar about this antique piece of furniture.
Intriguing Unexplained Noises
Jeff Allen of the estate sale company remembered that day vividly. “He asked for help loading it,” he said during an interview. It was then that something strange began to happen. “As soon as we laid it down, it started making all this racket on the inside,” he continued to narrate. “Obviously we were very intrigued with what was happening with the dresser.” We are sure anyone in their shoes would feel the same way. Furniture does not usually make that kind of noise, after all.
Any curious person would probably investigate such a strange phenomenon. That was exactly what Knodell and Allen did when they heard the odd noises. They had to turn it over and put it down on the back to get a close look at the piece of furniture. It turns out that this was exactly what they needed to reveal the secret that dresser had been hiding the whole time. They were shocked by their discovery.
From the outside, the dresser did not seem all that extraordinary with the exemption of how old it was. However, it turns out that there was more to it than meets the eye! “When you look at the front of it, it looks like it has three obvious drawers with molding on the base,” Knodell explained, “But the bottom has a secret drawer that opens up.” Whoa, we are sure that not a single soul in that yard expected to hear about such a thing.
By that point, the family had already taken a look at the dresser owned by their late relative. Aside from that, it also went through an appraisal at the hands of Premiere Estate Sales Network. It was hard to understand how they all managed to miss something so important about the dresser. It turns out that there was more to it than just a hidden compartment. Allen and Knodell could not believe their eyes when they opened the drawer.
The Secret Compartment
It was easy to see that the designer of the dresser wanted to keep their valuables somewhere hidden. It was clear from the way they positioned the secret compartment. If Allen and Knodell did not pay any attention to the strange noises, they might have never discovered this intriguing new drawer. At that point, Knodell was likely just excited that he found a four-drawer dresser when he paid for a three-door dresser. He had no idea that there was a much bigger surprise waiting for him inside that compartment.
Finally Opening It
Knodell later talked about the act of opening the drawer. “It was a real adrenaline rush,” he said and added that he and his companion “were in shock for a second.” This is perfectly understandable when you hear what the two men found inside the hidden compartment. Just what exactly did they find in the strange feature of the dresser? His good luck from buying the antique dresser at a low price got even better when they saw what was inside the fourth drawer.
The Treasure Inside
It is time for us to find out what was hiding in the dresser drawer. What do you know… it was full of treasure in the form of cash, jewels, and old personal memento! The two of them stumbled into a time capsule of sorts without any idea. They saw paper currency from different countries, military medals from the Civil War, dog tags, and a lock of hair. That was not all, however. They also found jewelry in the form of bracelets, rings, and loose gems. It was amazing that he got all of this stuff after paying only $100 for the dresser.
Right On The Mark
Soon enough, they cleared up any doubt that the object came from 1890. That estimate seemed pretty accurate when you consider the things they found inside the compartment. If this was the case, we are sure that many collectors would want to get their hands on some of these things. After all, it is not uncommon for collectors to pay a good sum of money for awesome relics. However, they needed to hear the opinion of a professional to learn more about the discovery.
A Professional Opinion
It was a good thing that Knodell had been with Jeff Allen, one of the professionals from Premiere Estate Sales Network. He took a closer look at the treasure to figure out just how much it, together with its hidden contents, was worth. His professional opinion? Apparently, the dresser and the contents came up to around $15,000! Can you believe that Knodell could get this much money for something that he paid only $100 for? He sure hit the jackpot on that day.
What To Do
If you have ever heard of “too good to be true” stories, you might have predicted that there was a twist coming up. The problem was that none of the items inside the compartment were part of the sale since none of them knew they even existed. Knodell paid for the dresser, which meant that he was now the legal owner of everything that came with it. If he were someone else, he would have gone home after saying, “Hey, I’m $15,000 richer!” However, Jeff did not know if that would be the right course of action.
His Ethical Dilemma
Could he bring himself to keep a “finders, keepers” attitude about the whole thing? After all, he paid only $100 for the dresser. We previously mentioned that some people would feel comfortable simply selling the treasure and taking the profit for themselves. However, Knodell did not like the idea of doing such a thing. In the end, he decided it was time to do the right thing. Let us see how he arrived at such a noble decision after everything that he went through.
Right And Wrong
During an interview, he went to say how he felt about learning that the antique dresser and its contents came up to an estimated value of $15,000. “I bought the chest [of] drawers. I didn’t buy those things,” he explained. “If I kept them, I would never feel right about it. There would be a cloud over the whole thing. It’s a feeling more than anything else.” It was a good thing that Knodell had a strong sense of what was ‘right’ and what was ‘wrong’. It helped him go about this in a way he was comfortable with.
Starting A Search
Apparently, his past helped him arrive at such an incredible decision. “I’m an old ex-Marine, and I try to do the right thing,” he once said. Aside from that, Jeff Allen had the same gut instinct that Knodell did: “‘Let’s call the owner.’ There was never a question of anyone keeping it. It was ‘this is fantastic. Let’s call the owner and get the stuff back to them.'” This was what the two of them decided to do. However, they first had to figure out who the owners were…
Putting The Pieces Together
It was a good thing that there was nothing difficult about tracking down the owner of this surprise loot. As a matter of fact, the executor of the state was none other than the son of the person who passed away. It was a good thing that he remembered seeing this dresser in the house where his grandparents lived in Michigan. However, even he did not know that it contained such valuable things. He was just as surprised as they were to hear about this secret compartment.
Peace Of Mind
Emil Knodell knew it was important to trust what his gut told him. In the end, he returned the valuable things inside the dresser, and it paid off for him. Even though he could legally claim the contents for himself, he did not want to pad his retirement savings with it. This is simply not something that a former Marine would ever do! He gave back every last item to the family of the owner. He knew that this was the “proper” thing to do, and it gave him some peace of mind.
They Were Grateful
How refreshing is it to hear about someone who decided to do the right thing and keep greed at bay? Emil Knodell had every right to keep the valuables to himself and become $15,000 richer in no time at all. However, he held onto his moral convictions instead. He contacted the family, who he believed to be the rightful owners of everything inside. They were probably thankful that it was someone like him who found the treasure they did not even know existed. Without a doubt, Emil Knodell deserves the sincerest thanks for what he did. Maybe it is time for us to start going to estate sales as well!