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Chapter 161: Lost & Found

January 25, 2022
Chevy Chase, Maryland

While Nancy and I were still in Pensacola and talking about the adventures of Emmett Wilson in 1911, I found this little snippet from the want-ad section of April 11, 1911 issue of The Pensacola Journal, and I shared it with her:

Emmett lost his keys somewhere in Pensacola on April 10th! Pray, what was he doing?
Image taken from microfilm by the author.

If you’re wondering if I read the entire microfilm issues of The Pensacola Journal when seeking Emmett Wilson information, the answer is yes. This was painstaking, and before the film was uploaded to Chronicling America.gov (the Library of Congress database, which is searchable by terms). How did I know this was about Emmett? It’s the office address. That’s Emmett’s law firm address, and he was in solo practice at this time.

According to the timeline I’ve created, circuit court was in session on April 10, and Emmett’s brother Cephas was in town representing clients. Cephas usually stayed at the San Carlos Hotel (Emmett was boarding with Walter Kehoe and his family at 211 West Cervantes.

A few things of interest:

Metal name plates attached to the keys. They may have looked something like the screenshot images below.

A vintage blank name tag for key rings. Source: Examappl

Suitable reward will be paid — what was a suitable reward in 1911 for returned home/office keys? Maybe $5? It probably depended on how anxious Emmett was to get his keys back. I can imagine it was a bit stressful; the keys were to his home and office, after all, and anyone could have helped themselves to his papers, belongings, and so forth (though someone was always at the Kehoe home, such as a housekeeper or family member, so his personal belongings there were likely safe).

I showed this ad to Nancy while we were still in Pensacola, along with my timeline notes. She shrugged a little, asked me why I thought it was unusual, because we’d just illustrated how Emmett was an average kind of guy. “Everyone loses keys,” she said.

I told her this was different, because the advertisement was first posted in both The Pensacola Journal and the Pensacola Evening News on April 18, 1911, over a week after the keys are noticed lost.

The ad was paid for to run through April 20, 1911. The ad runs a total of three days in either paper, so hopefully, Emmett’s keys turned up or were turned in to his office.

“I doubt he forgot he had keys for nine days,” Nancy said.

I thought that, perhaps, Emmett and his family and coworkers turned the house and office upside down all during that time. “Or called or stopped by places he visited in town on that day, and no one had seen them.”

So, the search turned public on the 18th, Nancy said. “Maybe he’d dropped them in the street or they fell out onto a lawn and so forth.”

“Or in a pub,” I said.

Nancy laughed at me and shook her head. “His friends would have turned them over to him, I’m sure.”

Realistically, we believed that by the 10th day, Emmett probably had a spare set made up already. He could easily get new house keys from the Kehoes. His office had a pass-through door with the law office right next door, and he could always get a replacement from the building manager.

I never discovered if Emmett’s keys were returned, or if he found them himself.

Categories: Addiction Book Congressman Interesting & Odd

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jsmith532

Professor
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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