The Coupeville Lions Club Garage Sale contains an assortment of donated pieces from vintage apparel and canoes to lampshades and armchairs. But on rare occasion, volunteers unearth a distinctly personal, heartfelt piece of history amongst the discarded items.
While sifting through the contents of an antique jewelry box, one volunteer discovered a 74-year-old memento of reassurance and love sent in 1941 from a World War II sailor to his wife.
The sailor, Thor Copstead, had been stationed overseas and had written a Christmas card and poem to his wife, whom he addressed as “the dearest one back home” and “my sweetheart wife.”
The poem’s typewritten contents is still clearly legible, as is the card with its hand-drawn picture of a lighted Christmas candle and handwritten declaration of affection.
The items had been tucked into an inside pocket of the old box, not necessarily hidden, though not easily spotted either.
“They could have easily overlooked that,” said Verleen Boyer, Lions Club Garage Sale volunteer.
The contents of the letter and card, along with their placement, led Boyer to believe it may have been donated by accident.
Boyer noted that she and other volunteers have discovered similar items such as diamond rings and a 100-year-old christening gown, accompanied by a photo of the religious event.
“I couldn’t imagine that in with all of that costume jewelry, someone wouldn’t have wanted that diamond ring,” she said.
Sometimes, she said, people quickly clean out their own homes or those of loved ones without inspecting the pockets, nooks and crannies of items set aside for donation. Other times, individuals rely upon professionals who may not question more personal items.
There is one Copstead listed in the Coupeville phone book, though the line appears to be out of service. At the home, a sign denotes the owners as “Thor and Oti,” though there was no answer Monday afternoon. Oti was another name Thor Copstead used for his wife, according to the donated materials.
“This was just heartwarming and wonderful to read that some man was writing to his wife,” Boyer said. “It makes you feel really good, what a nice thing for her it was.”
According to an online database of Washington State marriage certificates, a Leota Hunter and Thor Copstead were married on Nov. 1, 1941 at the First Methodist Church of Arlington, Wash.
Findagrave.com states that a WWII Navy veteran named Thor Copstead died on June 7, 1999 and is buried in the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery.
Boyer said that, if she is unable to locate the owner prior to Saturday’s garage sale, she’ll hang on to it in case anyone should like to claim it.
She and other volunteers are also considering placing a photo of the letter and card on Facebook.
“I just thought it would be nice to reunite this with someone in the family if they had given this to the Lions by mistake,” said Boyer.
Anyone who would like to claim the letter may contact the Coupeville Lions Club at 360-678-4105.