”Patience is a virtue” goes the proverbial phrase, but for a Tarrytown couple perseverance was an equally important asset in their efforts to recover a wedding gift missing for 42 years.
Cynthia and Mel Chesner made their marriage vows in New York City in 1970. Among the wedding gifts they received were two Series E, U.S. savings bonds. However, when they later sorted through their gifts, the two bonds, one for $25 and the other for $75, were not to be found.
“It was upsetting, the $75 bond was from very good friends and I felt very bad that I lost their gift,” Mrs. Chesner related. She then began her decades’ long quest to recoup the lost bonds. Her first visit to a federal office required filling out a form which included, “listing every possible bit of information that I had, including the dates and locations where the bonds were purchased and by whom,” she said. That initial effort proved unsuccessful. “No records of the bonds, no indication of their existence,” was the official response received by Mrs. Chesner.
A couple of years later, Cynthia thought it might be prudent to initiate another search. “I said, let me try again; maybe there are new people in the office and they could find it.” She repeated the process. “So again, I filled out forms giving every possible detail that I had available,” she recalled. “I got back the same answer, that there was no information about this bond ever having been being purchased.”
Mel, her husband was skeptical that any of her efforts would prove successful. “Give up on it, it’s not worth the trouble,” she remembered as his advice. While the Chesner’s tried to forget about their loss, in Cynthia’s mind it was more than the money involved. The idea that it was a gift from a dear friend, and that it never materialized bothered her despite yet a further unsuccessful effort. “So, the years went by and it wasn’t until this past spring that the occasion arose where I made another attempt to recover the bonds,” she said.
Mrs. Chesner, a retired nurse, attended a health and aging program during the spring at the County Center in White Plains, as a volunteer adviser on health insurance. By coincidence, she found that New York State maintained an office in the building that could aid people in tracing lost bonds. However, she was told by that office it could only help search for evidence of lost New York State bonds. Her bonds were issued by the federal treasury. She was advised to “Try Congressman Nita Lowey’s office.”
“I wasn’t going to do that; it was 42 years since the loss,” Cynthia noted. However, after her initial reluctance, she soon, “... found Lowey’s office could accomplish all sorts of things we can’t. “By phone, I informed a gentleman in the office of my problem. We’ll see what we can do about it,” was his response, according to Cynthia. She was soon sent a form to fill out requesting information and releasing the congresswoman’s office to look into the matter. That was followed by a letter stating the office was working on her case and that her information was sent to the U.S. Treasury Department.
She received a letter three weeks later from the Treasury Department indicating it was searching the records, and “doing everything it could, “ Cynthia explained. “And then, Lo and behold, I got another letter from them stating that they were able to trace one of the bonds, the $75 bond purchased back in 1970 in Brooklyn.” She asked, “Am I going to get the bond?” thinking that she might even frame it. “No,” she was told, but she would get a check. When the check arrived, much to the Chesners’ surprise, the $75 bond, with 42 years of interest, had turned into $419. “Without Nita Lowey’s office intervening,” Cynthia asserted, “ there is no way I would have gotten it.” All the previous letters I sent and forms I filled out, just didn’t go anywhere.”
“I called my friend who had given me the gift, Arlene, now living in Florida, and said to her, “I want to thank you for your wedding gift,” Cynthia said. Arlene asked, “Why now, you already did that 42 years ago” Cynthia’s reply was, “Yes, but I didn’t have the gift, I was just thanking you for your thoughts. “ An explanation followed.