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Hathcock History: Hidden behind the walls

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:33 am

Jeff Erkenbrack and a friend were in the process of demolishing a six inch block wall to make room for an expansion of Running Etc., a sporting goods store located in Virginia Beach when they found the first artifacts, a collection of vintage beer cans in mint condition.  

They continued jackhammering until another section of the wall fell and that was when Jeff spotted two women’s wallets jammed into the upper part of the wall.  

Considering their age, the contents of the clutches were in pristine condition. A Social Security card was still white. Also preserved were a dozen photos in each, assorted cards and driver’s licenses, but no money

Both wallets contained names, so he got on the telephone and by the end of the day he had reached the owners of both wallets.

Dell Dean, owner of one of the wallets, worked as a secretary for an insurance company located upstairs in the building Erkenback was remodeling.

She remembered how hurt she felt when her purse went missing from her desk back in 1963.

Still, she laughed when Erkenbrack gave her the all-but-forgotten blue plaid wallet, thick with black-and-white photos, library and identification cards and even a 3-cent stamp. “I can’t thank you enough,” she said as she hugged him.

Rose Ann Moore worked as a secretary, too, only her office was located in a department store around the corner. She remembered stashing her leather wallet in the pocket of her winter coat which hung on a hook in her office, but a quick-fingered thief managed to find it.

No one knows how the wallets ended up in the wall but both women remember that at the time, there was construction going on in the building. It would be anyone’s guess as to the culprit’s identity so the thief remains at large, but Rose Ann sees God’s hand in getting back what she once thought was gone forever.

“It’s not worth much money” she told a reporter, “but it gives hope to people that they’ll have something returned to them that they lost.”

Sometimes walls contain hidden treasure such as that found by a Tennessee man who posted his story on online. Identified only by his screen name, Evilenglish was helping to clean up his grandparents’ house in preparation for its sale when he noticed an area of concrete peeking out from under a rug.

Intrigued, he pulled the rug aside and saw a round cap with a groove running through it. Pulling the cap he discovered a secret safe.

Unable to open it he contacted a locksmith. While waiting he reflected on the fact that both his grandparents had been collectors.

His grandfather was an avid sportsman and collected firearms while his grandmother collected coins, antiques and gee-gaws.

After the locksmith cracked the old safe the family beheld a strongbox full of treasure. The cache included pocket watches, boxes of jewelry and dozens of collectable coins.

“Funny that as a boy, in that very house, my Grandma read me Treasure Island,” Evilenglish wrote. “And I always dreamed of finding something like this!”

Secretly, don’t we all share a similar dream?

Local historian Steve Hathcock is also an authorized Garrett Metal Detector dealer who sells and rents metal detectors. He can be reached at steve@southpadretv.tv or 956-761-9900.

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