Woman Finds 65-Year-Old Childhood Essay in Used Bible
(SAN CLEMENTE, Calif.) -- As Marion Shurtleff was on her way out a bookstore in San Clemente, Calif., she remembered that she had meant to buy a few extra Bibles for her Bible study group.
Shurtleff, 75, asked an employee if the store had used Bibles and he pointed her in the right direction. There were four or five versions, so she quickly picked two, paid and left.
She noticed later on that one of the Bibles had some folded yellow papers inside but thought nothing of them until about two months later when she found herself with some free time and decided to take a look at the papers.
What she found floored her.
"I opened it up and on the inside facing page...I started shaking," Shurtleff told ABC News. "There was my name and my telephone number and I recognized my handwriting."
There were three pages of thin yellow paper with a Girl Scout essay written in pencil. Shurtleff wrote it 65 years ago when was 10 years old.
"When you're a Girl Scout and you apply for a badge, you use your Girl Scout handbook and write a report on the requirements," she said. "This was for the Foot Traveler's Badge."
The paper described a day-long adventure in which Shurtleff and a few other girls had chronicled walking "a lot of different places" and how long it took them to get from place to place in her then home of Covington, Ky., which she left in 1963.
Covington is more than 2,000 miles away from San Clemente.
She wrote about the items she carried and different rules like, "Don't walk on the grass" and "Don't harm the bark of a tree."
At the end of the day she had taken the street car home, she wrote.
"I was amazed," Shurtleff said of finding and reading the pages. "I was stunned. I shook. I cried. I had goosebumps."
She now calls the event her "OMG story," since she said all of her friends have reacted to the story by exclaiming, "Oh my God!"
She didn't recognize the Bible and saw that it had been printed in 1986, long after she wrote the essay.
"The Bible wasn't mine and the Bible was printed in 1986 so it's not that old," she said. "Where the document was from the time I wrote it until 1986, I still have no idea."
Shurtleff wanted to solve the mystery of who had saved her Girl Scouts paper. She went back to the bookstore and asked if they could tell her who donated the Bible.
They said privacy rules prevented them from giving her the person's name or contact information but if she wanted to write a letter, they would pass it along.
With the help of some local media, Shurtleff eventually connected with the woman who had donated the Bible.
"When I contacted the lady who had donated and she remembered the Bible and she remembered turning it in, but she and her husband had talked about it and didn't remember anything in the Bible," Shurtleff said.
When asked about the possibility that maybe she had the papers all along and they had found their way into the Bible, Shurtleff said she had ruled that out.
She said she has moved around the country many times throughout her life and kept her possessions to a bare minimum.
"I didn't keep anything sentimental and the number of times I moved...I have been down to almost not taking anything with me so I would have known if I had that in my possession," she said.
Shurtleff said that she believes her former Scout leader in Kentucky has since passed away so her only clue is the name "Bonnie Gene Edwards," who signed the end of the paper and wrote "okay." She doesn't know if Edwards is someone from her school, a fellow Scout or another Scout leader.
Shurtleff has been in touch with the coordinator of her class reunions who is sending her the classbook to see if she might recognize anyone else in it who might have an idea.
In the meantime, Shurtleff said she's taking the wandering papers as a sign from God.
"I guess God wanted me to have this and maybe it was supposed to remind me of an earlier time in my life or just let us know that strange things happen and we should believe," she said.
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