INA – A local woman was reunited with her unique and cherished keepsake today, thanks to the goodwill of a Rend Lake College administrator.
According to 72-year-old Jean Bishop of Benton, her purse was allegedly stolen from her shopping cart at the Benton Wal-Mart. It ended up on a Highway 37 shoulder about 5 miles south of RLC where it was apparently thrown from a moving vehicle by the alleged purse-snatcher. That’s where RLC’s Salah Shakir comes along.
Shakir, Vice President of Information Technology at the college, was heading home from work on Thursday and noticed the black purse laying on the side of the road, highly visible in the snow. He turned his car around and picked it up.
“I thought somebody left it on the back of their car and it fell off,” he said. “I thought I could get it back to the owner.”
He had no idea until today what his selfless deed means to Bishop. When she went to the Ina campus Friday afternoon, she explained that inside the purse was one of her most prized possessions. Tucked in a velvet jewelry box was a $5 piece of script, more than 100 years old, issued by the Coal and Lumber Company of Sterns, Ky. Scripts were used to pay coal miners. The coal employer would issue scripts as wages to miners and they would trade them for goods and services in a mining community. This particular coin-like keepsake was given to her in 1972 by her late husband. She plans to pass it down to her daughter, a mine inspector in Kentucky.
The script – once worth a mere $5 – is now much more valuable, particularly to collectors of exonumia.
“I’ve already been offered $5,000,” Bishop explained. “I cannot believe its still in there. They could have taken anything else, I don’t care.”
The alleged thief did take some things – cash, credit cards and a bag of Snicker Doodles, Bishop explained with a snicker of her own. She has reported the incident to area authorities who replied that they will investigate.
In the meantime, Bishop is going to work on a finding a safer place for her sentimental script.
“It’s going on a chain around my neck,” she said. “The next person who wants to take my keepsake from me is going to have to pry it from my dead body.”