Harry Arnold is a canny businessman but last month he got more than he bargained for in an assortment of old furniture purchased from an Apalachicola man.
Arnold, owner of Apalachicola’s Tin Shed Nautical & Antiques, purchased a truckload of used furniture from a local retiree. Among the items unloaded from the truck was an old steamer trunk. While handling the trunk, Arnold noticed something was knocking around inside of it so he opened the antique chest and under two fitted trays he discovered a brown paper package bound with twine and bearing a postmark from Nov. 2, 2011 and addressed to the Severance household on Paradise Lane.
The article of mail had apparently never been opened.
Arnold, ever the explorer, removed the paper to find a cardboard box. Inside the box were the ashes of Ruth Adele Miles, who passed away in Palm Harbor in Oct. 2011 and was cremated.
Arnold called Apalachicola police, which initially refused to take the box. But, after some research into the law, returned for it because it contained human remains.
In an interview last week, City Commissioner Mitchell Bartlett said the items on the truck were things he was discarding and had given to a friend to sell. He said some of the items had been abandoned by a tenant in property he owns on Paradise Lane off Bluff Road west of Apalachicola.
“I feel terrible about it. I had no idea what was in the trunk,” he said.
Arnold, meantime, was able to locate the Severance family in Alabama through a Franklin County business where the husband had been employed.
The Apalachicola police are making arrangements to find a final resting place for Miles.