“Treasures,” that’s what I’ve come to call them. They are the interesting or valuable items, large and small, that I find on my daily runs. Of course, most aren’t treasures at all, but little odds and ends that can help give each run a personality of its own.

I imagine that anybody who spends any time at all running on the roads and trails has found his or her treasures. And while most are probably inconsequential and easily forgotten, a few have real stories behind them.

One such episode occurred quite a few years back, but I remember it well. I had just dropped off my training buddies on our long weekend run. We parted ways and I, as is usually the case, ran on by myself, finishing the last couple of miles alone.

About a mile or so from home, not really paying much attention, my eye caught something off to the side of the road. It looked like a large brown bag, just lying on the other side of the drainage ditch. Nearing, it became obvious that this wasn’t just a large bag, but a pretty-good sized purse.

I picked it up and lugged it home, somewhat embarrassed because it didn’t match my outfit. Since there were a few things in it, I called the police. The dispatcher asked if there was any identification inside. I looked and found some. She replied that the handbag had been reported stolen the day before from the nearby state park. Where I had found it was outside of the police jurisdiction, so she transferred my call to the sheriff’s department.

Two deputies came to our house to retrieve it. We chatted a bit. When I mentioned that this was the third or fourth purse I had found, one of the deputies joked (I think), “Hey, wait a minute here….”

Quite a bit of excitement for one running day!
As I noted, I have found several other purses and wallets while on the run. No, none of them matched, either.

Once, while running out to meet my running buddies, I again found a purse on the side of the road. (Would that make it a shoulder bag?) It had only credit cards in it. Upon retracing the route with my friends, we found a few other cards, but nothing with an address or phone number.

Returning home with the bag and its contents, I could find no such person in the phone book. But, coincidentally, one of the credit cards was from a large department store where Karen worked part-time. She happened to be working that day and I called her. She hooked me up with the store’s security folks, who located the owner and called the sheriff’s department.

The deputies picked up the remaining cards and returned them to her. She gave them her phone number and asked them to have me call her. I did. She thanked me and explained that she had just moved here from out of the state. Quite a welcome to Michigan!

Several times I have come across wallets. One, again coincidentally, belonged to the son of a co-worker of mine. He had left it on the roof of his truck while swimming in a nearby lake. Forgetting about it, he drove away and the wallet flew off. Fortunately, nothing was missing.

Another wallet brought the oddest circumstance. I found it pretty much intact, just a few dollars, but all of the identification, including driver’s license and credit cards, still there. Finding the owner’s name in the directory, I called.

I identified myself and explained why I was calling. Whoever answered yelled to someone away from the phone, “Did you lose your wallet?” Yes, it belonged to him. After some silence, I felt compelled to ask if he wanted it back. My new phone buddy shouted, “Do you want it back?”

After a few seconds, although it seemed longer, she relayed to me, almost hesitating, “Well, all right,” quite without enthusiasm. “If you want to put it in the mail, go ahead. If not….”

Still, there wasn’t much urgency, despite credit cards, driver’s license, a few bucks, etc. I popped it in the mail the next day, hearing nary a word since. Hmmmm.

I once found a pillow case on one of my predawn runs when I was still teaching. It had some items in it, so I turned it in to my principal. He called the sheriff and you should have seen the looks on my students’ faces when the principal later walked into my classroom and, with mock seriousness, said, “Mr. Marinucci, these deputies would like to speak with you in the hallway.” The pillowcase had been from a home break-in a ways down the road, but I don’t know what came of the investigation.

Frequently, I have found money, not always just coins, but currency. Mostly, it’s been a single or two. But, what must have been 30 years ago, I came across a $10 bill. At the time, that was enough for dinner for two at our favorite Chinese restaurant. So that’s where Karen and I had dinner that night.

My most lucrative finds have been one Jackson, a $20 bill, and one Grant ($50), on two separate occasions. One of the 50s resulted in an afternoon of golf for my brother, a couple buddies, and me, complete with carts, courtesy of some unknown benefactor.

For whatever reasons, coins seem to come in bunches. That is, when I find a quarter, the next few coins I find are also quarters. The same seems to hold for nickels, dimes, and, alas, pennies.

Most of the time, though, the treasures are not really treasures at all. And they don’t have such stories, either.

There have been tools, such as wrenches, wire brushes, and screwdrivers, books and magazines, golf balls, and just about anything in between. Some of them have been in decent enough condition to reuse, but most were pretty well beaten up. My brother and nephew, however, have received quite a few replacements for the golf shots they have sent into the water.

Regardless of their condition, they were enough to stop and check, perhaps adding a bit of mystery or excitement to my runs. Sometimes I wonder, lost in my thoughts and reveries of running, how many other treasures I have missed.

If I thought my finds were really treasures, I could look them up in my daily running log, complete with dates and locations. But the vast majority of them go unrecorded, remembered in a vague, but fond way. One thing I am certain of, though, is that the $50 bills are recorded in there!