Wayward turtle urn finds its way home
Woman regains container with ashes of husband's first wife
"That's the turtle!" she cried as she walked through the swinging doors into the back room of the Salvation Army Thrift Shop in Horseheads on Tuesday. The turtle was waiting for her on a work table, saved from a trip to Binghamton -- where it might have been lost forever -- by a curious thrift shop manager.
Lewis, of Elmira, sold the turtle-shaped urn Saturday at her rummage sale. Later, her husband, Terrence Lewis, told her the turtle contained the ashes of his first wife, Marcia Lewis. Distraught, Anita Lewis called the Elmira Star-Gazette on Monday seeking help in locating the woman who bought the turtle. The purchaser told Lewis she planned to use the turtle as a cookie jar.
Tuesday morning, the newspaper received an anonymous voicemail from a woman who said she donated the turtle to the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Horseheads. The caller did not give her name and said she did not want to be interviewed. She did not say whether she was the same person who purchased the turtle Saturday, and she didn't explain why it had been donated to the Salvation Army so soon after it was purchased.
A worker at the Salvation Army said she feared the turtle had been put on the truck of donations sent every day to Binghamton to be sorted. From there, the turtle could have been distributed to any of about a dozen Salvation Army stores in the region.
Fortunately for Lewis, the turtle caught the eye of Barbara Phillips, the Horseheads thrift store manager, and she pulled it off the truck.
She planned to sell it at the Horseheads store with a ticket price of at least $7.99, she said.
After the Star-Gazette called the store Tuesday morning, staffers found the turtle and set it aside. Lewis picked it up Tuesday afternoon.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," she said to the Phillips and her staff.
Lewis also expressed her thanks to the woman who provided the tip on the turtle's location.
"I hopes she sees (the story)," she said. "I hope I get to see her again to thank her in person."