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Homepage Archives Open in new window Index (12/2012) Headlines (10/2012) Headlines (02/2013)   Vol. 46 December 2012 
Treasure In The Headlines
As seen in the December 2012 edition of W&ET Magazine


A postcard signed by the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, has sold for $2,384, more than three times its presale estimate, signifying a “hot market” since the astronaut died.

The undated postcard of Vero Beach, FL, addressed “To Steven” and signed by Armstrong, had an estimated value of $700. It was one of thousands that the Apollo 11 astronaut signed for fans and collectors for many years after his trip to the moon in July 1969.

“Like the Apollo 11 rocket ship, Neil Armstrong autograph prices seem to be blasting through the stratosphere,” said Nate Sanders, owner of Nate D. Sanders auctions.

“Signatures have tripled in value, and signed photos have doubled in just a matter of days,” he said.

Sanders said Armstrong signed photos until the mid-1980s, with each selling for about $8 to $12.

Three different Apollo 11 photos signed by the whole crew— Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins— sold for $7,361 each at the auction, Sanders said.

From The Chicago Tribune, submitted by Bob Bolek, Hometown, IL.


Evelyn Weiner supposes at least 60 years had passed since she last took a peek at the old home movie collecting dust inside its metal canister. Even so, it took some prodding from a niece to get her to transfer the 16mm film into a more accessible DVD.

So recently, the 90-year-old widow dropped off the spool at a Walmart. Ten days later, she got a phone call that restored her faith in humanity. It was Bill Embleton, manager of operations for Yes Video, which handles film conversions.

“He said ‘Sit down,’ I said why? He said ‘I have some good news for you— I’ve got $3,100 in cash for you the girl found in the can and I just need your address.’”

Flustered, disbelieving, Weiner suspected she was being scammed and even consulted a family lawyer for advice. But it was true.

Processors at Yes Video’s office in Norcross, GA, had discovered $3,100 in $100 bills stashed inside the cannister.

The loot had evidently been placed there by Weiner’s late husband, Mickey, who died in 1996. Once upon a time, they had planned to save up for a visit to Israel; he passed away less than a year after retirement and they never made the trip. But Weiner never knew her husband of 54 years was socking away money in this manner.

Embleton said when he finally convinced Weiner she was about to receive a no-strings-attached windfall, “She was just so ecstatic, and she was such a nice person about it,” he says.

“I said ‘Evelyn, I hope you live another 10 to 15 years’ and she said ‘Oh no, don’t wish that on me, I want to be with my husband and daughter.’”

Weiner’s daughter, Cheryl Weiner Seidan, was an officer with the Metro-Dade Police Department in Miami. She was shot to death in 1982 during an armed robbery at age 33. Today, Weiner lives with her oldest daughter, Susan Pruitt, in a home with a wall bearing police memorial plaques to Cheryl.

Weiner accepted the money in a check and used it to help her family, which includes two surviving children, two grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.

As for the DVD, which contains 13 minutes and 43 seconds of pure nostalgia from the 1940s and 1950s, the reproduction is top-shelf, with remarkably vivid color. Mickey had spliced the reel together himself, and this journey through the past wanders through beach outings, picnics, baby feedings and all three of Weiner’s young children, who can see their entire lives unfold on film.

“Of course it brought me back to happier days,” says Weiner, her reflexive smile lighting up as she reviews the silent footage once more. “But it was kind of bittersweet, too. Sometimes I get up in the morning and say, ‘Who’s this old lady in bed?’”

These days, Weiner is quick to turn off the TV news whenever it intrudes on her, and she prefers crosswords to newspaper headlines before easing into the day. From lowly telephone solicitors to the lofty halls of Congress, experience has left her wary and guarded. “You feel like they’re all a bunch of crooks,” she says.

But ultimately, the return of the cash Mickey had hidden away for so many decades wasn’t so much about the money as redemption.

“There’s honest people in this day and age— this doesn’t happen anymore,” says Weiner. “But something like this reminds me there are good people in this world.”

Now in its 12th year of operation, Yes Video estimates it receives 800 to 1,000 individual units of film to digitize— mostly 8mm and 16mm— each day. In the last 14 months, it has converted some 27,000 miles of celluloid to DVD.

Embleton says this is the first time he can remember a wad of cash turning up in a spool of film.

From The Daytona Beach News-Journal, submitted by Zoueva Grossmann, Palm Coast, FL.


Pottery fragments found in a south China cave have been confirmed to be 20,000 years old, making them the oldest known pottery in the world, archaeologists say. The findings, which will appear in the journal Science, add to recent efforts that have dated pottery piles in east Asia to more than 15,000 years ago, refuting theories that the invention of pottery began about 10,000 years ago, when humans moved from being hunter-gatherers to farmers.

From the Associated Press, submitted by Daniel Finch, Halifax, N.S.


Archaeologists in Greece’s second-largest city have uncovered a 230-foot section of an ancient road built by the Romans that was the city’s main travel artery nearly 2,000 years ago.

The marble-paved road was unearthed during excavations for Thessaloniki’s new subway system, which is due to be completed in four years. The road in the northern port city will be raised to be put on permanent display when the metro opens in 2016.

The excavation site was shown to the public recently, when details of the permanent display project were also announced. Several of the large marble paving stones were etched with children’s board games, while others were marked by horse-drawn cart wheels.

Also discovered at the site were remains of tools and lamps, as well as the bases of marble columns.

From the Napa Valley Register, submitted by Jerry R. Hallett, Napa, CA, and Daniel Finch, Halifax, N.S.


The pounding surf and currents from Hurricane Isaac on a remote spit of Alabama shoreline have again revealed the wreckage of a schooner that ran aground in 1923, delighting curious tourists and locals.

The schooner Rachel and her eight-man crew ran aground near historic Fort Morgan on Oct. 17, 1923, during a tropical storm. The men were headed to Mobile after a stop in Cuba. While the men aboard the Rachel survived, others on nearby schooners weren’t so lucky.

“A tropical storm much like Tropical Storm Isaac that we just went through was hitting the Gulf Coast and a large number of these schooners were out in the Gulf. One was sunk just off Perdido Key and the crew was lost,” said Michael Bailey, historian for the Fort Morgan Historical society.

Because The Rachel was so far onshore, its owners could not salvage her, Bailey said. The owners tried selling the wreck with no luck. Later, the Rachel was burned. Bailey isn’t sure who burned the ship or why.

Shifting sands and tides eventually buried the Rachel until Hurricane Camille struck the Gulf Coast in 1969 and part of the ship was exposed before she was recovered.

Bailey glimpsed The Rachel for the first time when she was unearthed by Hurricane Frederick in 1979. He began to seriously delve into her history in 2004 after she was unearthed by Hurricane Ivan.

“I saw 20th-century features and thought it could have been from early 1900s,” he said. “I found a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shipwreck study that had a description of The Rachel and learned it was built in Mosspoint, MS, at the De Angelo Shipyard,” he said. Bailey found a relative of the ship’s builder who gave him copies of the ship’s plans and photographs of the ship.

Although The Rachel was a common ship for her time, the wreck provides a unique look at what life was like along the Gulf Coast almost 90 years ago, Bailey said. He likened schooners of that era to the semis that fill interstate highways today. The schooners supplied many of the region’s industrial and commercial needs.

Bailey believes The Rachel had a load of lumber when she ran aground.

According to local lore, she might also have had alcohol on board with the hope of making a little extra money from the voyage.

“That’s not impossible,” Bailey said. “She was coming from Cuba and it was during Prohibition.”

Hurricane Isaac uncovered more of The Rachel than has been seen in a long time.

On a recent afternoon, beachgoers crawled through her charred remains and posed for photographs.

The Rachel might be intentionally recovered with sand because of the danger from scrapes, cuts and bruises her rusted iron skelton and splintered wood pose to tourists, Bailey said.

In the meantime, people like John Lamb of Richmond, KY, are making the most of her reappearance.

Lamb, who was vacationing in the area, took pictures of his young son by the wreck as he thoughtfully explored every inch of The Rachel.

“I think the most interesting thing is that, being from Kentucky, we don’t ever see anything like this. We thought we’d come check it out,” he said.

From The Daytona Beach News-Journal, submitted by Zoueva Grossmann, Palm Coast, FL.


Deborah Hardee waited in anticipation on a recent Saturday for a package to arrive.

When it did, she took it into her bedroom, opening it alone with both relief and hesitation.

A day before what would have been her husband’s 58th birthday and more than a year after his fatal July 1, 2011, motorcycle crash, Billy Hardee Jr.’s 1985 Baltimore Stars USFL championship ring was in her hands.

She last saw the ring about seven years ago when the family lost it. In August, it showed up on a website called Property Room, which auctions off recovered property for police departments across the country.

“I just said to myself, ‘Billy, I can’t believe your ring is back,’” she said.

How the ring traveled from Winter Haven to California is a mystery.

Long after Billy Hardee stopped playing professional football, he continued giving motivational speeches to teens in Polk County.

He grew up in Polk County and played for the Denver Broncos; the New York Jets; and in the Canadian Football League for Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa. He then joined the now-defunct United States Football League, where he won three championships.

He was the assistant principal at Lake Region High School and previously worked as assistant principal at Jewett Academy in Winter Haven. He was also the defensive coordinator for the Lake Region football team.

After retiring from football, the couple and their three children moved to Polk County.

He frequently showed one of his three championship rings to teens when he talked about his life and career. He stressed to the teens that athletic careers can be short-lived and that education is important.

Deborah Hardee said her husband left the ring in his car after one of the talks. Later that day, the couple used the car as a trade-in at a local dealership. Days later, Billy Hardee confessed to his wife that he might have left the ring in the vehicle.

Deborah Hardee recalls searching for the ring throughout the house for the next three months. They went back to the dealership but discovered the vehicle had been auctioned.

“We looked and looked for a while,” she said. “We kept thinking it was going to turn up.”

Then the ring appeared on Property Room’s auction site with an opening bid of $1. During the next couple of days, more than 50 bids came into the website from as far west as Las Vegas and as close as Kissimmee.

On the day the auction was scheduled to close, Matt Duncan, 41, of Leesburg, VA, came across the listing while browsing the website for a gift for his wife.

He suspected something was wrong right away, he said. He took a closer look at the ring to make out the name on its side, “Hardee.” Using Google, he found information about the Baltimore Stars and the 1985 roster. He soon spotted Billy Hardee and realized the name matched that on the ring.

While searching Billy Hardee’s name on Google, he came across his obituary and saw a stream of comments from young people mourning his death.

“This isn’t some guy that ended up on a street corner somewhere,” he said. “I can tell that this guy was a family man, that definitely had an impact.”

With the bidding expected to finish within a few hours, Duncan located Deborah Hardee and called her at Winter Haven High School, where she works as a guidance counselor.

Hardee said she was initially skeptical about Duncan’s call, but after seeing the ring on Property Room’s website, the two worked together to contact the company.

The website stopped the auction, and within a week the ring was shipped to Deborah Hardee.

The ring brings memories of Billy Hardee’s legacy, and it’s a reminder of what Deborah Hardee has lost.

Billy wasn’t perfect, she said, but together they raised a family.

“I had my best laughs and the hardest cries,” she said.

In the past year, she took three months off work when the grief became too much.

Her involvement with a foreign-exchange program that brings students to Polk County has helped her move on, she said. On a recent Friday night, she drove some of the students to the first football game of the season and took others to Walmart.

The family and former students started a scholarship with the Polk Education Foundation to help Polk County students pay for college in memory of Billy Hardee.

Every once in a while, she’ll get a call from one of Billy’s former students updating her on how he or she is doing.

“People say that it gets better with time,” she said. “I can honestly say: It doesn’t get better. You learn to adust to the void.”

The cause for Billy Hardee’s fatal motorcycle crash is still unclear. He was taking a road trip with a college friend when he crashed in Arizona.

Deborah Hardee said, when they last spoke, he said he planned to ride at night because of the heat.

Billy Hardee was found injured on the side of the road July 1, 2011.

He died July 4, 2011, in a Phoenix hospital.

Hardee said there were 9-1-1 calls indicating another vehicle might have been involved, but she still hasn’t gotten any definitive reason for the crash.

“I’ve tried to put the pieces together,” she said.

“He may have gone to sleep. It just didn’t make sense.”

Now that the family has the third championship ring, Hardee said she plans to give one to each of her three children. But for now, she wants a little more time with it.

“My son said, ‘Dad has a way of continuing to let us know that he’s here,’” she said.

“It’s exactly the way I felt.”

From The Daytona Beach News-Journal, submitted by Zoueva Grossmann, Palm Coast, FL.

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