Saturday, August 02, 2008

Attics, Small Towns and Buried Treasure

by Joyce Tremel

People keep asking me what I’ve been doing since I became unemployed. Well, lots of things.

I’ve been cleaning out my attic and cupboards for the garage sale we’re having on Saturday. We figured since our kids are now 24 and 20, it might be time to get rid of all the stuffed animals, Micromachines, Fisher Price toys, games and puzzles. The Legos, the Star Wars and Ghostbusters toys are staying, though. I’m also getting rid of all the might-need-it-someday stuff that we’re not really going to need someday. If anyone thinks they might need my junk, let me know. But you have to come and get it.

I’m researching magazines for articles I have some ideas for, and I submitted a short story to an e-zine. I’ve also been doing a lot of writing. I have a new book kind of figured out, and a first chapter written. It’s a funny mystery (at least I think it’s funny), which is a new direction for me. It’s a lot of fun so far.

When I started researching small towns for the setting in the new book, I found this site. I could spend hours looking at this stuff—and I think I did. You can pick any state you want to research. If you click on what’s in parenthesis, it gives you a list of smaller towns. After that, there’s even a link for towns with less than 1000 people. I’ve browsed the listings for several states.

Did you know there’s a town in Mississippi named Chunky (population 344)? I can’t help but wonder how that town was named. There’s one in Georgia called Ty Ty (pop. 716). Why not just one Ty? There’s another town in Georgia called Experiment (pop. 3233). The experiment must have worked—the town is still there. We have our share of odd names in Pennsylvania, too: Grindstone, Mars, Nanty-Glo, Glen Campbell (not the singer, I’m sure!), even Intercourse.

I dare you to go to that site and not spend hours there.

There was also a news article that caught my eye a few days ago. There’s some guy named Franz Felhaber, who keeps taking old, decomposed cash to various banks and attempts to cash it in. In his latest venture, he arrived at the Treasury Department carrying a suitcase with over 5 million dollars. Authorities are suspicious. Felhaber can’t seem to keep his story straight, either. He’s said the money was an inheritance, was found in a tree, found when someone dug up a field, belongs to relatives from Mexico. The list goes on. No wonder the feds are suspicious.

As a writer, I can’t help but wonder where the money really did come from. Is it drug money? Buried treasure? Ransom? What do you think?


Tory said...

I'd say he has a friend who's supposed to destroy old money (when it's no longer useable) and instead sold it to him for more than it's worth.

But that's just me.

Thanks for the great website, Joyce! I, too, could easily get lost there.

Gina said...

Maybe if the feds can figure out when the money was issued, they can figure out which large amount of cash went missing shortly after the most recent bills, assuming it's from a payroll robbery or some such.

Gina said...

By the way, Joyce, that's an interesting site. I'd swear that I was once lost somewhere called Poke Run, PA, but it doesn't come up on the map. Maybe that old money comes from Poke Run, which only exists in a parallel universe?

Joyce said...

I told my husband that if I ever say I want to have a garage sale again to have me committed. After the cost to run the ad, we made a whopping twenty dollars. In other words, with all the work I did all week, I made about 50 cents an hour!

Tory said...

Ah, but Joyce, think of the good you did for the environment! :-)

Annette said...

Joyce, I have two words for you. Flea Market.

We gave up yard sales years ago. Now, we load up the truck and haul everything to Trader Jack's or some other local flea market. Sure, you have to pay to set up, but EVERYONE there is interested in buying junk...errr...treasures. So we always make more money. Of course, there is the risk of buying so much of other people's "treasures" that you end up coming home broke and with more junk.

On second thought, never mind.

That mystery money has had me pondering the possibilities, too.

Joyce said...

I did keep some things, but Goodwill got a nice tax-deductible contribution after the sale was over.