June 18 • 03:32 AM

Treasures find way back home

Photo of little boy, now 17, key to finding owners of lost ornaments

January 20, 2010
IMLAY CITY — Like most high schoolers, Dalton Collins, 17, was a little surprised and somewhat nervous when called to the principal's office last Wednesday.

Quite certain that he'd done nothing wrong, the 17-year-old junior at Imlay City

High School was even more surprised when office staff showed him a photo of himself as a little boy on the front page of the Tri-City Times.

Dalton's little-boy-picture was published with a story about a large bin of Christmas ornaments Capac area residents Lynn and Don Cook came upon as they traveled down Old M-21 earlier this month.


Even more surprised was Dalton's mom Ruth, who didn't know the bin was missing until Dalton called her from the school.

"He said mom, what is this doing in the paper?" Ruth grins.

Once she got her hands on a copy, Ruth says she was able to answer the question.

The Christmas ornaments had been taken down at the Collins's Attica Twp. home, neatly packed away for storage at Ruth's in-laws in Lapeer. Her husband Ken put several bins in the back of his pickup truck to make the delivery. Before heading to his folk's Fish Lake Road home, he stopped at the Imlay Township cemetery on Fairgrounds Road. One bin of ornaments fell out of the truck near Weyer Road in between both destinations.

"I was kind of shocked, we didn't even know they were missing," Ruth says.

Though missing no longer, Ruth says the ornaments are priceless and irreplaceable.

"A lot of them were given to us as presents and some are hand-me-downs from family members who've passed away," Ruth says.

Others were collected as travel mementos and some handmade by Dalton when he was a little boy.

"I'm so grateful to the Cooks," she says. "I don't know how to thank them enough for finding them and realizing that they are a treasure to somebody."

Lynn Cook says she knew the value of those treasures the moment she and Don spotted the bin alongside the road. After losing precious mementos in a devastating house fire in January 2003, Lynn says she's also grateful that the lost ornaments are back where they belong.

"I'm so happy, I'm just thrilled about it," she says.

Gratitude abounds, Ruth adds, for a community that's home to people who care about such things.

"I just want to thank everybody—the Cooks, the people at the school, the paper," Ruth says. "I can't say thank you enough."

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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