Many antique collectors will likely tell you their ancient belongings aren’t only special to them because they look cool or can’t be found anywhere else in the world. No, the real importance lies in the story behind the artifact. Who owned it before they did? How did it fall into their possession? The answers to these questions are often far more fascinating than the object itself.
While a man named Martijn van Oers was perusing an antique store one afternoon, he saw something on the shelf that stopped him in his tracks. But, after purchasing the object and bringing it home, a whole new story began to unfold, and he quickly realized just how incredible his new purchase actually was.
Martijn van Oers is a Netherlands native who spends much of his time wandering the streets of his hometown of Breda snapping tons of photos. The guy absolutely loves photography, and he has plenty of pictures proving it.
His Instagram account is loaded with photos that evoke raw emotion. There’s no denying he’s talented, and he’s always on the lookout for an opportunity to build on his already-impressive portfolio.
One sunny afternoon, Martijn wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and walk down around Breda capturing some new snapshots. While strolling through town, he ventured into an antique store that caught his eye.
Martijn was hoping he’d come across something photography related. As he was scanning the last shelf of items, he saw exactly the kind of thing he was hoping for.
There, staring back at him, was a classic Zeiss Ikon 520/2 camera. Amazingly, the camera looked like it hadn’t been used at all, so Martijn forked over some cash and brought it home, eager to further inspect his new toy.
Martijn intended on giving the camera to his wife, who also loved photography, but before he did, he wanted to tinker with it. When he excitedly opened it up, he was shocked to discover there was a roll of film still inside from the previous owner!
Martijn did some research and learned the camera was built in 1929, and the film was from sometime between 1940 and 1970. He stumbled upon a real piece of history and intended on finding out as much as possible.
The old age of the camera and film meant the pictures on the roll — if there were any at all — were extremely tricky to develop but he had to try. So, he called up his buddy Johan to help with the process.
Johan invited Martijn over to perform the whole developing process in his kitchen. The process would take a long time, but both men knew if it yielded results it was worth every bit of effort.
They couldn’t inspect the film roll beforehand — exposing them to light would wash out any hope of developing the remaining photos — but that didn’t quell the guys’ excitement. Something, their guts told them, was on this roll.
The process felt gruelingly long for the guys who just wanted to see what was on the leftover film. In fact, at one point Martijn began drying the negatives with a blow dryer to finish quicker.
With the film developed and dried, the men finally had negatives they could expose to the light of day — if everything in the development process went well. Martijn grabbed the negatives and, with a projector, inspected the photos…
There were four pictures in total that contained enough detail to actually see what the person behind the lens captured. The first was a woman standing on a cement pathway that ran along a mountainside.
The second photo had the same woman, and it appeared she was on a bridge overlooking the ocean. Martijn and Johan stared in awe, unable to believe they successfully developed the decades-old film.
The third photo, again, had the woman walking along a steep cliff that led into the water. Was this woman the wife of the person who owned the camera? The men hoped at some point they’d figure everything out.
Finally, the fourth successfully developed photograph contained someone new. It was an elderly man who had the camera’s carrying case slung over his shoulder. He must have taken the photos of the woman. The puzzle pieces were slowly falling into place.
Still, he wanted to know where these pictures were taken. Turning to Facebook for help, Martijn shared the photos, and, to his amazement, one of his friends reached out with an interesting photo…
The photo was a Google Street View of Biarritz, France. Recognizing the spot from the photos, Martijn was convinced this was where the pictures were taken. However, he was totally unprepared for the next turn of events.
A Dutch woman named Marion Jurrjens (left) reached out to Martijn and told him she was the granddaughter of the man in the fourth photo! His name was Theo Lammers, she said, and he did visit Biarritz with his wife, Elisabeth Lammers-Berveling, at one point.
Although Marion was born in the Netherlands, she’d relocated to Canada in 2004. Even though it would be an expensive trip to personally deliver the photos, Martijn felt obligated to make it happen. So, he set up a crowdfunding page in hopes people would feel just as enthusiastic.
Lo and behold, they did! So he hopped a flight to Canada to reunite Marion with her grandfather’s camera. His wife may not have gotten a gift, but a mystery was solved, something a woman in Indiana understood all too well…
See, at the beginning of February in 2019, workers were hard at work tearing down the decrepit Jeffersonville High School. The former faculty supposedly hauled all valuables out of the building years before, but the construction crew stumbled across a long-forgotten cache.
Before bulldozing the rubble, one worker, fortunately, spotted this lost purse. Though covered in dust and grime, it appeared to be in fair condition. And based on its weight, the bag was filled to the brim with objects.
The workers took a break and decided to rummage through the bag. They expected to find some junk that teenagers stashed in the past few months, but nothing of the sort popped out. Instead, they gazed upon a bundle of objects from the early 1950s.
A few newspaper clippings confirmed the date, and the retro items inside matched the era perfectly. For example, the crew popped open a vintage tube of lipstick that must’ve belonged to a high school girl way back when. Underneath that was a clue to her identity.
Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools
A letter, carefully folded up, lined the bottom of the bag. Written to “Marty” from “Torchy,” it appeared to be some kind of love note! The message hinted at a love triangle, as both the writer and a boy named Paul wanted to take Marty to prom.
News and Tribune
The workers notified the school board, and together they tried to figure out the owner of the abandoned purse. Based on the personal information and date of the news clippings, they guessed it must have belonged to Martha Ina Ingham, class of 1955.
Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools
Miraculously, they were able to track down Martha, now splitting her time between Maryland and Florida, and ask her about the bag. The octogenarian confirmed she’d lost it long ago, and she revealed the dramatic story behind her love letter.
Facebook / Marty Ingham Everett
Reportedly, Martha — or “Marty” — was quite the catch back in the day. Both Paul and Torchy asked her to prom, but in the end, she decided to take an entirely different date: a boy named Carter Williams.
Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools
Martha’s and Carter’s relationship didn’t last past senior year, but the Jeffersonville alum was ecstatic to get her old purse and belongings back. They conjured up memories that hadn’t crossed her mind for decades.
Martha understandably had no interest in reviving this old romance, but there’s no denying that thoughts of high school flames stay with us. Coincidentally, half a country away, a Georgia woman learned a similar lesson while cleaning her house.
One chilly day in 2019, Ann Caldwell of Augusta, Georgia, decided to straighten up her house a little bit. But her spring cleaning threw her for a loop. Instead of bringing her ahead to the next season, one surprise took her back sixty years.
The older woman lived alone, so she knew just about every inch of her home. When she cleared out a cluttered drawer, however, an unfamiliar sparkle in the back caught her eye. She reached for it — and gasped.
It was a class ring! Judging by its gold sheen and black engravings, it held great sentimental value — except Ann had no idea how it got there. The inscription had the initials C.S. and indicated the owner graduated from Weatherford High School in 1959.
This information only heightened the mystery. While Ann lived in Georgia, Weatherford High was four states away in Oklahoma! She had serious doubts about whether she’d ever track down the owner, but Ann knew she had to try.
After a bit of research, Ann enlisted the help of Chad Wilson, the Weatherford Superintendent of Schools. Chad had access to all the records from the area but couldn’t make any promises about an answer.
Facebook / Kiwanis Club of Weatherford, OK
Chad got his hands on a yearbook from 1959, the same year on the ring. The only other information he had was the initials C.S., but luckily only one student in the 62-person senior class matched them.
Chad and Ann’s likely target was Coy Sullivan, who also was one of the three valedictorians of the class. It was a revelation, but the case hit a brick wall. Chad couldn’t find any current contact information for Coy. He wasn’t even sure he was alive!
Months passed by, and Chad almost gave up on the ring mystery. He still kept digging in his spare time, and one day he hit pay dirt. On Facebook, he came across the profile of Justin Sullivan, the adult son of Coy. Chad sent a message and held his breath.
Amazingly, Justin responded and confirmed that Coy was still very much alive! The elderly man remembered the ring well, too. He said that it was one of his most treasured possessions, and he always wondered what happened to it.
Ann was thrilled to hear that the ring’s owner had stepped forward. She immediately shipped it off to Coy’s home but also struck up a correspondence with him. More than anything, she wanted to know how a stranger’s ring from 1959 wound up in her house.
Together, they pieced together the answer. Ann’s late husband’s family used to run a laundry near Coy’s high school. At some point, he must’ve left the class ring in a pocket and sent that clothing out for washing.
The timing of Ann’s discovery was convenient, too. Coy had his 60th school reunion coming up, so he was excited to show off his long-lost ring at the ceremony. It’s funny how high school can make such an impact on us.
Clifton High School
For instance, Adrian Pearce and Vicki Allen were high school sweethearts, together for nearly 2 years. Sadly, like most romances, it eventually came to an end, but Adrian was left with a memento he’d never forget.
It was Vicki who ultimately ended the relationship, and Adrian hadn’t seen it coming. It was right before the holidays, so it was a rough time to break up, but Vicki insisted on giving Adrian the present she bought for him.
Spending Christmas without his beloved left Adrian heartbroken — so much so, that he refused to open the mysterious gift. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to toss it out, so he put it under his tree and left it there.
As years went by, Adrian fell in love once again, this time with a woman named Valerie. Having nearly forgotten all about Vicki, he married Valerie without hesitation and together they started a family.
But the one time a year that Adrian would think of his ex-girlfriend was right before Christmas, as he continued to put out the present that he never unwrapped beneath the tree. Naturally, his family deemed it a bit odd and wondered what it could be.
Years turned into decades, and even though Adrian had told his family that he would never open the present, they had finally had enough of the mystery. On the 47th year after the high school break-up, Valerie told him to open it already.
So on December 23 of 2017, Adrian wrote a Facebook post explaining the situation, which sparked a lot of interest from his social media friends. He finished by asking if anyone knew how to track down Vicki so they could reconnect and open the gift together.
As it turned out, one of Adrian’s friends from high school was friends with Vicki on Facebook, and he was happy to connect the two. Happy to hear from him, Vicki invited Adrian and Valerie to fly out and visit her home in British Columbia.
Of course, Adrian was both excited to see his old flame, whom he had long since forgiven, but he was nervous too. So much pressure built up around the present, what could it possibly be? Would Vicki and Valerie get along?
Nevertheless, the Pearces headed to western Canada where they finally caught up with Vicki. While live on CTV, Vicki admitted that she didn’t actually remember what was in the box, but she did recall the circumstances surrounding the present.
As she explained, she had been out shopping for a Christmas gift for her then-boyfriend Adrian when she ran into another guy named Wolf. They got to talking, and he ended up kissing her, but she didn’t pull away… in fact, she kissed him back!
Absolutely riddled with guilt, Vicki decided that the only fair thing to do was to break up with Adrian, but she still wanted to hand him the gift she had so carefully sought out for him. Forty-seven years later, here they were, ready to reveal what was inside.
With cameras all around, Adrian handed the present to Vicki to do the honors of unwrapping the gift. As soon as she peeled off the wrapping paper, her face turned red, and she muttered there was no way she would have given this to her boyfriend.
After much speculation surrounding what was inside the little package, it turned out to be a book, titled Love Is: New Ways To Spot That Certain Feeling. It was a collection of comic strips by Kim Grove, inspired by letters the author had written to her own husband.
While the book may not have been a teenage boy’s taste, it did have a clear message of love behind it, and that wasn’t all: when Adrian handed it back to Vicki, she opened the book and flipped the pages to reveal a personal note inside of it.
While Adrian preferred to keep the inscription private, he did announce that he would frame the book and its shiny blue wrapping paper as a memory to treasure forever. With that, Adrian and Valerie bade Vicki adieu and headed back home. Still, the story was far from over.
Unable to let go of the story itself, Adrian wrote a book about his experience. The live TV coverage of his meeting with Vicki gave him 15 minutes of fame, which he would use to promote The 47-Year-Old Present.
Aside from the book, Adrian also wanted to incorporate his story using another one of his hobbies – camera work. He announced plans to release a documentary, filmed by the one and only, that would cover what the book did not.
Unfortunately, not everyone was psyched about Adrian’s creative outlets. His own son called the entire story of his father holding onto a 47-year-old present from an ex-girlfriend “stupid.” Even Vicki said the whole ordeal was “a bit worrisome.”
It seemed like the story itself had given Adrian a sense of purpose and a source of inspiration. He was happy to have reconciled with his former love, and to have received some attention for refusing to give up on his dream.