Decades of memories stopped two police officers on their way to the shooting range Wednesday.
A steel-gray suitcase lay broken and battered in the intersection of Trent and Mission avenues. Hundreds of photos blew in the wind and scattered across six lanes of traffic, into weeds and along curbs.
Spokane County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Reagan and Spokane police Officer Janice Dashiell, along with three or four other passers-by, dodged in and out of traffic around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, gathering up photos. A local espresso shop donated trash bags for the collection. A passing driver handed Dashiell a small stack of photos.
Shooting practice was postponed but “we got a lot of deep knee bend and back stretching exercise,” Reagan said.
An hour later, Reagan and Dashiell sifted through the Samsonite suitcase, turning over hundreds of photos of a couple in front of Christmas trees, at anniversary dinners and vacationing on lakes.
“We’ve got somebody’s entire life piled up here,” Reagan said, peering into the face of a smiling blond boy. “Kevin’s first school photo” is written on the back.
Dashiell lifted out a Simon and Garfunkel cassette tape hidden beneath e-mails, birthday cards, a 1989 World Wrestling Federation ticket and a love poem.
Among the material was an expired Washington driver’s license for Betty Lou Moore. The woman appears in many of the photos.
Reagan called the Sheriff’s Office to try to locate Moore. No leads.
Reagan assumes the suitcase fell off the back of someone’s truck or the roof of a car.
“It’s entirely possible that someone was just taking this to the dump but I just can’t imagine someone would throw this stuff away,” he said. “… It’d be a shame not to get it back to them.”
Reagan tossed a photo inscribed with the name “Chelsea Blair” onto the pile.
“Hmm … it’s a mystery,” he said.
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