The local Sons of AMVETS squadron has a real “whodunit” on its hands.
The mystery of the glass jar began spilling its secrets at the monthly meeting of Squadron 127. The newly chartered organization is a subunit of the well-established Ladysmith AMVETS Vacho-Lybert Post 127. The group now boasts about a dozen individuals among its membership after receiving its charter last month.
When the squadron met last week, Squadron Commander Dave Roth told the story of the glass jar.
Roth was gone late one night, installing a new door at the Drop Zone Veterans Memorial Association headquarters on Summit Avenue. When the job was completed and Roth returned home, he grabbed the mail from the mailbox, opened the garage door and let the dogs out. Nothing unusual.
“As I walked up to the garage I looked, and there was a decorated canning jar,” Roth said.
It hadn’t been there when he left earlier. He stood and stared at the jar, calling it “pretty” the way it was decorated with colorfully patriotic stars and stripes.
The jar was left at Roth’s home anonymously. There was no note saying who left it while he was gone. It was adorned with the words “USA.” There were stars. There were hearts. It was done up in red, white and blue.
Roth bent down to pick up the jar with one hand, but it was so heavy he couldn’t lift it. He rolled it over and spied it was filled nearly to the top with silver and copper change.
“I had to set down what I was carrying so I could lift it with two hands,” Roth said.
He hoisted the jar and carried it into the house with both arms. He set it down and continued with the chores he had yet to finish.
But, curiosity finally got the best of him. It wasn’t long until he felt compelled to return to the mystery.
There was a note on top of the jar with a bunch of stars that read, “To the Sons of AMVETS.” On the front was taped a picture of the squadron’s vest insignia clipped from a recent Ladysmith News story about the organization. A slender black ribbon was tied around the neck of the jar.
Roth spotted an item folded up, packed inside. He unscrewed the lid, pulled out the paper and began unfolding. Wrapped within was a large sum of cash — twelve $50 bills — $600 cash. At the bottom, under the coins, could be seen even more green currency.
“I sat there, and I cried,” Roth said. “There are some wonderful people.”
Sons of AMVETS is a nationwide service organization comprised of male descendants of American veterans. As part of the AMVETS family, it seeks to improve quality of life, advocates legislation for increased benefits and care and provides and supports charitable assistance to veterans, their families and community. Members must be at least 18 years of age and not eligible for membership in the parent organization.
The squadron was awarded its initial charter last month.
Roth presented the jar to the squadron at its July 13 meeting at the VMA. He still hadn’t poured out the contents, so what remained buried deep within all that change was still an unknown quantity.
Roth does not know who left the mystery gift at his home. He doesn’t know if it is the work of a single individual or 30 people.
“I don’t know what to say. I can say patriotism in Rusk County is alive and well,” Roth said.
What could be plainly seen through the glass walls of the jar was the fact that it contained a vast sum of money.
Roth thought who in the area might have the resources to pull off a gift of this magnitude. He picked up the phone. He began making phone calls.
“I wanted to know who to thank, but nobody stood up,” Roth said.
One person he called was Ladysmith resident Rick Nash, a veteran, but he denied any involvement. Instead, Nash reached into his wallet and handed Roth another $100 as a donation to the squadron.
Roth thanked the squadron members at the group’s monthly meeting for making the group a reality.
“We are being looked upon. We are being noticed,” said Roth. “Whoever did this is very patriotic. They love that American flag.”
There was a lot of cash, and more could be seen at the bottom buried under all the coins.
Near the top, Roth discovered a “Ben Franklin” after spotting a corner of the $100 bill sticking out from the coins in addition to the $600 cash he found folded up.
Right off, he already knew the jar contained at least $700. All the change inside had yet to be counted.
“All I can tell you is I found the jar, and after it sat in my house almost an hour, I opened that note up to that wad of cash,” Roth said.
The plot thickens.
The jar finally began spilling its guts at the end of the squadron’s recent meeting. Members poured out what was inside onto a table, and they could not believe what they discovered buried within the coins.
There was so much more.
The first roll was ten $100 bills — $1,000.
The next roll was more $50 bills.
Then came a roll of $20 bills.
“Wow,” said Squadron Treasurer Mark Hanson. “It’s awesome.”
They laid the cash across the table. There was more than $2,000 just in cash.
“It’s crazy, plus the change,” Roth said.
The contents of the jar had been methodically packed by whoever was responsible. Its richer contents remained deeply concealed within the coins.
“It is so well thought out,” Roth said.
Taped to the outside was a picture of the AMVETS squadron’s emblem perhaps as a thank you to the military organization for family members of those who served their country in the Armed Forces.
“The person knew about this newly founded group and about us. I don’t know who this is,” Roth said.
Roth kept returning to the black ribbon tied with a bow around the neck of the jar. He and other members are awestruck.
“The squadron is new. We are so tiny,” Roth told the group.
So far, no one has stepped up to admit being the mysterious benefactor.
Roth has no idea who would do such a thing.
“I don’t,” he said. “I can’t draw any conclusions. My answer to everyone is I don’t know. I just don’t know.”
Roth called the mystery an fascinating tale of intrigue.
“It is so overwhelming for me. It is so overwhelming for the group,” he said.