The thing about having all this information at our fingertips is that it sometimes feels too fast. In the end, I almost felt cheated that The Case of the Purse in the Carport was solved so easily. Shouldn't I have had to write letters to some Rosicrusians? Or at least scour the phone book and make several phone calls to unrelated Duthies and then have to worry about whether or not to trust someone if they claimed to be relatives?
The purse and wallet were a matched set
But given the day and the age and a fast internet connection, I was able to learn about FloKat and her family very quickly. I knew she had two sons, Thomas Jr. and Roderik. She was born in 1893, and was a short, stout woman. I began to wonder about her, about her life. Why did she immigrate? How did she meet Thomas? I will not go so far as to call it a full-blown obsession, but I did not think of much else for several days. So it was immensely satisfying to receive an email in reply to my query
Thank you so much.
Please contact David Duthie of Portland, Oregon - see email address above.
I am under a tornado warning hence short message.
Wow! Someone named Free emailed me during a tornado to help me locate the purse's rightful owner. How cool is that? And why did I feel a little sad? I did not email David right away when I got the email. I could argue that I was busy with work (true), but I also wanted a little more time with the purse, time to let my imagination run wild. So it was that David emailed me first.
From: David Duthie
Hello Rebecca -
Florence Kathleen Duthie is my grandmother! She passed away in 1965. How amazing to hear that her purse has been found somewhere after all these years! My brother and sisters will be amazed also when I tell them.
I sure want to talk to you and here the details, and of course get the purse. I live in the [redacted] area of S.W. Portland. my phone number is [redacted]. Please give me a call!
Thanks very much,
Kathleen's purse, back with family
Even reading that again after all these months, I get a happy, slightly goosebumpy feeling. I had been afraid of who would eventually lay claim to the purse. What if the response had been, "So? Is there money in it?" And what if I had to give it to them anyway? But I couldn't have found a better person to pass the purse onto. Because for all my musings about FloKat, David was right there with the facts, and willing to share his stories with me.
So obviously, we arranged to meet, and I gave him the purse. He and his wife were so lovely and they even brought photos of FloKat (at my request). I had been so curious to find out what she looked like. I took pictures of the pictures, and they even posed for a photo for me. David told us stories about his grandmother, and how she used to cruise around in her 1955 Pontiac Star Chief. Apparently she wasn't the most attentive driver.
A young Kathleen Duthie
I am, of course, kicking myself now because I didn't immediately write down the stories he told, instead relying on my memory. I can tell you that FloKat was born in England and that she and Thos. were separated by the time the purse was stolen. She used to buy cakes with elaborate scenes (like a circus) on them, and she was musical--a singer, if I recall correctly. The house on Talbot is no longer around. The Portland Water Bureau now owns the land. Some day, I will drive by to see where it once was. And, of course, I can tell you that she lost her purse in 1957, and it was found 54 years later during a garage demolition project.
Oh and Free? His name is actually Fred. I guess it's easy to make typos when a tornado is on the way.
So closes The Case of the Purse in the Carport. Carolyn Keene would probably have done it better justice, and remembered more details (or faithfully reported them in a more timely fashion). But I think these photos round out the story nicely.
Most of these are Kathleen, with Thos. up in the right corner and a photo of her with friends at the house on Talbot in the lower left. I think David said she used to do music recitals up there.