The Odd Side – October 1, 2013

Abandoned Gold Bars Baffle German Police

BERLIN (AP) – Attention all passengers: could the person who left a stash of gold bars and a pile of banknotes in the luggage deposit at Cologne’s main railway station kindly contact German police?

That was the appeal that police in the western German city issued Friday for information to track down the owner of the several kilos (pounds) of gold and a six-figure sum of euros in cash.

The stash was found in April in a luggage locker at the station, a major European transport hub. Police said they’re going public after being unable to link the haul to any crime and hearing nothing from any legitimate owner.

Whoever the owner is should not leave it too much longer. Police say that if nobody comes forward, the stash will be sold.

Jewels on French Mountain May be From Plane Crash

PARIS (AP) – A French mountain climber stumbled upon a case of dozens of cut jewels, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — believed to be debris from one of two Air India crashes decades ago, police said.

Police commander Sylvain Merly of France’s Savoie region said the experienced Mont Blanc climber, who asked to stay anonymous, found the box marked “Made in India” while scaling one of the peak’s glaciers and turned it in on Sept. 9. Authorities hope to find someone connected with its owner, who is presumed to have been a passenger on one of the two jets that crashed in 1950 or 1966.

Merly said Thursday the metal box, slightly smaller than a shoe box, was filled with small bags of loose jewels, mostly emeralds and sapphires. Merly said debris from the Air India crashes regularly rises to the surface on Mont Blanc.

“Things come up from the glaciers,” Merly said. “They’re always moving.”

Merly said the climber’s decision to turn over the box immediately “means that there are still honest people.”

“He could have kept them but he chose to turn them in because he knew they belonged to someone who probably perished,” Merly said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen to the jewels if nobody claimed them.

Pittsburgh-Area Kindergarten Has 10 Sets of Twins

ALLISON PARK, Pa. (AP) – A Pittsburgh-area elementary school has a novel way to acclimate its kindergartners to the school experience, but it’s not a technique that can be easily shared with other schools.

Burchfield Elementary School’s brand-new kindergarten class has 10 sets of twins. That means 20 out of 100 pupils in the affluent suburban school’s kindergarten program started the year with at least one close friend.

Principal Jeff Rojik said that kindergartners are often nervous about starting school but that the twins are helping with that transition.

“You often have times where you have kids who are nervous about coming to school, who are anxious and have a lot of apprehension,” Rojik told KDKA. “But so far, with 20 twins in a set of 100 students, it’s a nice transition. They have a brother or a sister to help them get through the tough times.”

Sally Engel agrees that it’s nice to have her brother, Cy, in the same class.

“Whenever you want someone to play with and you don’t have anybody else, you’ve got somebody in your family — you have a twin,” Sally said.

99-Year-Old Iowa Woman Gets High School Diploma

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) – A 99-year-old Iowa woman who dropped out of a high school more than 80 years ago despite needing only one credit to graduate has finally received her diploma.

Audrey Crabtree, of Cedar Falls, smiled Monday as she received an honorary diploma for her time at Waterloo East High School.

“And I feel so much smarter,” Crabtree quipped.

Crabtree, who began her education at a one-room school house in northeast Iowa, left high school in 1932 due to a swimming and diving accident that forced her to miss several school days. She also had to care for her sick grandmother.

“I was a senior, but I was short a credit, so I would’ve had to go back the next fall,” she told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

That would have interfered with her plans to marry her first husband. In 1957, the couple bought the flower shop where Crabtree had worked after their two children started school. But her husband died of a heart attack two months into their business venture.

Crabtree operated Flowers by Audrey for 28 years. She married two more times and outlived both husbands. Her family today includes five grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Despite Crabtree’s professional and family success, those around her had noted her dissatisfaction with not finishing school.

“She had voiced quite a while back the one regret she had in life was that she never had gotten her diploma,” said Shelley Hoffman, Crabtree’s granddaughter.

Hoffman contacted Waterloo Community Schools and helped arrange the diploma ceremony.

Family and friends surrounded Crabtree as the current principal of East High handed her a diploma during an education board meeting.

“I wouldn’t advise anyone to drop out,” she said.

Crabtree was given a copy of her last report card and memorabilia from her time at the high school, including a jacket and homecoming pins. She also received more than 100 handmade congratulatory cards from middle school students.

NY city’s dead skunk depot stinks up neighborhood

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Residents of a Buffalo, N.Y., neighborhood plagued by skunk odors now know what caused the stink: Trapped critters that were shot and stored at a shuttered police station.

The Buffalo News reports that the city’s public works commissioner confirmed Monday that humanely trapped skunks have been taken to an old police station in South Buffalo, where they’re shot and stored in outdoor freezer until they can be incinerated.

Residents say they complained about the smell months ago but were told by city officials that skunks weren’t being killed inside the building. Later, they were told only a few skunks were killed there by lethal injection.

One neighborhood leader has dubbed the community scandal “Skunkgate.”