Stranger helps Atlanta woman recover stolen photo of her 80-year-old mother


“I was like sobbing,” Harrison said. “It was such a violation that something just ripped out of my body.”

The tiny photo of 15-year-old Norma Kron, now a little yellow and slightly cracked, had lasted nearly 80 years and survived multiple memorable events.

The photo of Kron standing outside his father’s grocery store in New Albany, Indiana in 1943 was first worn by Harrison’s father, Benjamin Gardner. Fighting in World War II, Gardner stuck photography in his boot and took it with him across Europe.

“This picture was taken when she was 15 and my dad was getting ready to go to Europe. He had been in the military for a year and he had met my mom and she gave him this picture with her address on the back” , Harrison said.

After he got home, they finally stuck it in a family photo album.

Benjamin Gardner and Norma Kron

Credit: Chris Harrison

Credit: Chris Harrison

Benjamin Gardner and Norma Kron

Credit: Chris Harrison

Credit: Chris Harrison

Harrison said that several years ago his mother gave him the album, which included the small photo. This album, which was stored in a bread box with other memorabilia, had suffered a flood shortly after they moved to Utica, Indiana, near the Ohio River in 1964. Harrison decided to remove the photos of the album slightly damaged by water. and store them in a box.

In 2020, she decided to rummage through photos, make copies of them, and create scrapbooks for her siblings. But it was not until the following year that she came across the photo of her smiling mother. She put it in her wallet with the intention of getting copies.

It ended up staying in Harrison’s wallet longer than expected and was the only photo she carried. Harrison said it was reassuring to have her mother with her.

“I loved carrying it around because every time I saw it it made me smile because she was smiling and she wasn’t known for her smile. She had a tough life,” Harrison said.

So when Harrison lost it in Portland without making a single copy, she was heartbroken.

She filed a police report the next day upon her return to Sandy Springs. Then she tried to move on.

But when she received a call from a stranger in late April claiming to have found her wallet, she was at a loss for words.

Randall Bair, who has family in Georgia, had lived in Portland for about six months and worked for an excavation company. He said he found the wallet sitting on a branch in a tree outside a McDonald’s.

“I was like, ‘It’s a lady’s wallet. Someone got robbed. And then I was like, ‘Well, the least I can do is see if there’s an ID or something.’ So I opened it up and I was like, ‘Man, of course it’s an older lady,’ and I know what it’s like to lose your wallet,” Bair said.

Bair said the strange occurrence was an opportunity for him to do a good deed. For him, it is an incentive to continue helping others.

But Harrison didn’t quite believe Bair at first. He said he told her he would leave it at McDonald’s and then sent her the address. Harrison called the police and asked an officer to retrieve the wallet.

Sure enough, it was there.

“He was supposed to be in that tree for eight months and it looked like it,” Harrison said. “It was dirty, nasty and paper stuff that was a little messed up, but this photo wasn’t, it was hidden under a flap and it didn’t get wet.”

She received the wallet a few days before Mother’s Day, with the photo inside still exactly as she last saw it. No charges were ever filed in the case.

Harrison has since made several copies of the photograph, one of which hangs in her home, and returned the original to safekeeping.

“It also gave me a new love for my mom,” she said, “because I feel like we’ve been reunited in a way that we haven’t been in a long time. “

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