- Associated Press - Saturday, February 11, 2017

SITKA, Alaska (AP) - Several years ago, Peggy Rice bought a tarnished silver cup at the White Elephant Shop to add to her collection of sugar bowls, pillowcases and costume jewelry.

“I’m a compulsive thrift store shopper,” she said. “I picked it up for 5 bucks. It was black because it was tarnished.”

She polished it up and found an inscription: “T. Reber Stein.”

“Why would anyone give away a baby cup?” she asked herself, and wondered if the old cup might be someone’s treasure.

John Stein said he was at AC Lakeside selling raffle tickets when Rice came up and asked, “Are you Stein? I have a baby cup with Stein on it I got at the White Elephant.’”

She said she just had to find it and it was his, he said.

“It has ‘T. Reber Stein’ on it,” Stein said she told him later that day. “I said, ‘that’s my dad!’”

Rice was glad to find the family where it belonged so she could give it back, reported the Daily Sitka Sentinel (https://bit.ly/2kPWwlN).

She said she thought it might have been John’s cup because the tarnished “T” at first looked like a “J.”

John’s father, Thomas Stein, was born in 1899 and died in 1980. He brought his family to Sitka in 1959 when he became the first manager of the Sitka pulp mill, Alaska Lumber and Pulp. John spent his teenage years here and after some years away moved back to Sitka.

How the cup ended up at the White Elephant is sort of a mystery, Stein said.

He thinks that when his mother Harriet passed away in 2003 it mistakenly got donated.

“It was very sweet of Ms. Rice to remember,” Stein said. “It’s a hoot. Totally unexpected.”

Rice said when she moved to Sitka one of the few things she brought was her own old baby cup.

“I thought someone might want it back because I have hung on to mine,” she said.

Stein tried to reimburse her for the $5 but she wouldn’t have it.

“I got my 5 bucks of use out of it - I leased it,” Rice said. “Plus, it was fun to give it back. He was really surprised. He was laughing his head off, actually. He was surprised that his dad’s cup ever got lost and that it came back.”

Stein said he’s placing the cup on a shelf with other heirlooms, such as baby rattles and photographs. He plans to give it to his eldest son (and father’s namesake) Reber, one day. Reber is a German surname, Stein explained; his dad’s family was Pennsylvania Dutch.

If anything, the lost-and-found story is a ringing endorsement of donating to thrift stores.

“I always figure giving things to the White E or Salvation Army folks is a good thing,” Stein said. “I’d rather things be used.”

And the secondhand shops also give residents something to do, Rice said.

“The White E is my entertainment,” she said. “There’s not a lot to do around here. There’s quite a few people like me who end up with other people’s stuff and then wonder what the story is behind it.”

In this case, a very sweet reunion story.


Information from: Daily Sitka (Alaska) Sentinel, https://www.sitkasentinel.com/

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