4 Times Trash Collectors Saved the Day

From junk haulers to park workers to dump truck drivers, we owe a lot to those who keep our homes, parks, and streets clean—especially when they go out of their way to help people who have lost something.

1. Savings Bonds Worth $114,000

What would you do if you discovered $114,000 worth of savings bonds? If you are Leo Guarente, owner of Junk Depot, and the bonds were discovered in an old locked chest removed from a deceased woman’s home, you would immediately return the bonds to the woman’s daughter, Marie Veloso.

The bonds, purchased for $21,000 in 1972, were already worth almost $114,000 when Guarente discovered them. “I could’ve used that $114,000 just like anyone else,” he said, “I haven’t been on vacation in 10 years. But I did not think for one minute that I was going to keep that money.”

Guarente has been trying to get a reality show based on his business, and he gladly used the incident as proof of how interesting his career is, which is why he hired a camera crew to go with him when he returned the money. He also received other perks from being honest; one local man offered to pay Guarente’s cell phone bill for a full year after hearing about the matter.

2. A 55-Year-Old Wedding Ring

When Bridget Pericolo placed her wedding ring in an empty paper cup before doing some chores, she certainly didn’t realize what a commotion it would cause. That’s because while she was doing stuff around the house, her husband of 55 years, Angelo, took out the trash—including the disposable cup sitting on the bathroom sink.

By the time Bridget realized the cup was gone, the trash truck had already come by and picked up their garbage. Fortunately, the couple realized the mistake before the dump truck had finished making its rounds for the day, so the supervisor was able to get in touch with the drivers to ensure the cargo was dumped separately so Angelo could search through the refuse for his wife’s ring. On the downside, by the end of the day, the truck picked up a total of ten tons of garbage.

Amazingly, it only took Angelo and a few garbage men 45 minutes to find the missing ring amongst the piles of trash. The sanitation workers said that the fact that the Pericolos tied their trash bags up greatly helped speed up the search. Even so, Bridget believed the discovery was a miracle.

3. Savings Bonds Worth $22,000

Try to keep track of your savings bonds and make sure your heirs know where they are too. After all, Guarente isn’t the only worker who has discovered savings bonds in piles of trash.

Mike Rogers was emptying out old bins of scrap metal at Blue Grass Recycling in 1971 when he stumbled upon two dozen US Savings Bonds purchased by Martha Dobbins. While no one knows how the bonds ended up in the barrel, it’s believed the person who bought Martha’s house after she died in 1922 dropped them off at the recycling center along with the metal scraps that eventually found their way to Rogers.

Rather than celebrate the fact that he just discovered $22,000 worth of savings bonds, Rogers immediately set out to find the rightful heir to the discovery. Eventually, he tracked down Dobbins’ son Robert Roberts, who was thrilled and shocked by the call. “I was totally surprised,” he said. “I had taken care of my mother for several years before she died and she never mentioned anything about any bonds."

Even more surprising than the fact that Rogers went about finding the son of the person who bought the bonds is that when Roberts tried to compensate the recycling company employee, his offer was refused.

4. Another Lost Wedding Band

Danielle Hatherly Carroll was tossing out trash from one of her public art classes in Battery Park when her ring slipped off her finger. Danielle realized the ring was gone later in the day, but by the time she and her husband returned to the park, the trash bins had already been emptied by the park workers.

Desperate to get the ring back, but without any ideas on what to do, Danielle left a note on one of the park’s garbage trucks that was parked nearby. Fortunately, Parks worker Gary Gaddist got the note and immediately took up the challenge and dug through the trash until he found the missing ring. “I would hope someone would do the same for me or anyone else,” Gaddist said.

In return for the Parks Department worker’s help, Danielle offered him a space in one of her art courses. “I didn’t even know they had things like painting schools,” Gaddist said. “It’s kind of exciting.”
* * *
It’s easy to say what we would do if we discovered a small fortune that someone threw away, but until you have your hands on the savings bonds, heirlooms, or antiques, it’s easy to speculate. What do you think you would do if you found things like this in the trash?

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.


The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.


Getty Images

There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.


Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.


Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.


A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”


Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.


Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.


Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”


New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.


During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.


Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.


Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.


Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.


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