Saturday, February 24, 2007

Baby finds $1,300 in 25 cent book

Rhiannon Barnes is a shy 15-month-old.

She doesn’t speak much except to her pet German Shepherd Callie or to say hello or thank you to everyone else. And like others her age, she enjoys playing with uncomplicated objects like boxes, balls, and books.

Still, there is something about this blue-eyed toddler. She is either prophetic or lucky, says her mother.

Two weeks ago, Rhiannon discovered about $1,300 in cash between the pages of a used book her baby-sitter Sheila Laughridge purchased for 25 cents at the Goodwill Store in Stockbridge.

“I was just bored that day, and we rode up there,” said Laughridge, whom Rhiannon affectionately calls Nanna. “We started walking around (the store), and she saw the book and started to pitch a fit.”

She said she only decided to buy the book because of Rhiannon’s insistence to have it. It is an old white hardback book, distinguished only by a sailboat on the cover.

“It’s not even a readable book,” Laughridge said, adding that Rhiannon held the book the entire day.

And later as Rhiannon flipped through the pages, the toddler found a small brown paper bag tucked inside the folds of the book.

“It kind of scared me, because I didn’t have any idea what it was,” Laughridge said. But the bag’s contents included much more good fortune than bad. She found several torn and tattered dollar bills — $100s, $50s, $20s, and $10s.

She took the money, dated as far back as to the 1960s, to a local bank and attempted to run the serial numbers but says she could not trace where the money originated.

Laughridge, who bought the book, received about $300 cash back from only the tattered bills she took to the bank. She said the rest of the $1,300 were in pieces and will be sent to the U.S. Treasury Department.

“I was shocked,” said Shirley Barnes, upon finding out her daughter Rhiannon’s discovery. “I thought it was really interesting. I don’t often take her to the store to do that. She points and screams for things she wants, but she’s generally pretty quiet.”

Barnes added, half-joking: “What I want to do is put pieces of paper with number on them out on the table and have her pick them so that maybe we can win the lottery.”

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