It's not every day that you find a scrapbook with photos dating back to 1890. That's what Scott Martin, customer services technician, experienced while helping one of his fellow technicians with a U-verse install in a Fort Worth, Texas, apartment complex.
"I had to climb to seven feet off the ground to reach our building terminal when I found this old book on top of it," Scott recalled. "Some of the pictures were actually tins."
Apparently many apartment complexes save things that are left behind in their boiler rooms in case someone comes back to claim them.
"I thought this had been overlooked forever," Scott said. "If someone found something like this of my family, I would love to have those pictures of my great-grandparents."
Scott's supervisor, Network Services Manager Pam Ballew, shared his sentiment. She wanted to find the owner and return it. She flipped through the enormous photo album and noticed lots of photos with the last name of Harder and many in Borger, Texas. After a quick Internet search, she found the Harder Survey Co. and Jim Harder, director of utilities for the City of Borger, on her second try.
"I think he thought I was trying to scam them," Pam said. "I started with, 'You're going to think this is weird.'"
After hearing Pam read the names on the many photos dating from 1890 to 1960 in the photo album, Jim thought the scrapbook must have belonged to his grandmother. Scrapbooking was one of her favorite hobbies. He even had one that she had made for his dad of his wartime service newspaper clippings.
Pam shipped the heirloom to Jim 200 miles away.
"It was fantastic," Jim said. "It was full of relatives that I'd hear my parents talking about, like Aunt Huldy. Now I have a picture of her. I didn't even know my great-grandparents' names, let alone have a picture of them too. It's full of family history. You can't imagine what this means to me."
Jim plans to remount the pictures and make copies of the book to send to each of his cousins. He can't wait to show his kids. His son is deployed overseas and is very family-oriented.
"There was at least one page of pictures devoted to each of my aunts and uncles, the eight children of my grandmother," Jim said. "It has pictures of all of their houses. There's even a picture of my dad when he was young with a wild hairdo. I'm glad he changed that before he met my mother or she would not have looked twice at him."
Jim was thankful that Scott found the scrapbook and didn't throw it out.
"You went above and beyond to do something nice for someone," Jim wrote to Pam in a thank you letter. "I am in your debt."
"Once we realized that he had never seen pictures of his great-grandparents, it made us feel really good," Pam said. "This is the best thing I could have done for a customer."
Scott summed it up nicely: "His world was delivered."