Forgotten memories sold at estate auction

You never know what you're going to find when you go shopping at an estate auction.

Four generations of memories were unwittingly sold at an estate auction for about $5.

A Peoria woman thought she was buying a box of pillow shams, but inside she found a lifetime of keepsakes, photos, and handwritten notes dating back to the 1920's, most of them centered around a U.S. Navy Sailor and his family.

Now the buyer who came upon the box of photos, letters, and keepsakes would like to return them to the family or friends of the Navy sailor they once belonged to.

"One of the pictures we found in here was of a ship, and on the back of it, it says the USS Firm, mine sweep ship," said Sarah Slankard.

Slankard has never met the man in the photos, but she's now very familiar with the life he once had.

A lifetime of memories belonging to a James Monroe of Phoenix, he was seen in a Navy yearbook dating back to the 1960's. More than half a century later, remnants of his life ended up in Slankard's hands, when she bought the box at an auction.

"I didn't know it had pictures in there, I had no idea, it had green pillow shams on top and I was thrilled with that," she said.

Underneath the shams were a trove of romantic keepsakes. Piles of photographs with handwritten details on the back, snippets that tell the story of a couple who fell in love and got married in the 1950's. They had children and filled albums with photos and details of their lives. It's like taking a walk down memory lane, but the memories are not your own.

"The one couple that's in there the most, you can see the love letters that went back and forth," said Slankard.

Sarah knows their faces and names, but the seemingly romantic story behind the images is unknown. The box of keepsakes likely sat in a storage unit for years, forgotten.

Many say a picture is worth a thousand words. Sarah knows in the right hands this box is priceless, and someone out there may want to hold on to this lifetime of memories.

The auction owner says he is in the process of tracking down the man who purchased the box from the storage unit, to try and track down the original owner. Sarah is hoping someone out there will recognize the family in the photos and help her get the keepsakes in the right hands.

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