Amazing find inside of used bible
“I call it my OMG story … my Oh my God,” Marion Shurtleff said of her moving discovery.
She told CBS2′s Stacey Butler that five months ago she walked into a tiny new and used bookstore and bought a used Bible. “I thought a while that I’d like to have another Bible to compare with my Bible that I had to see how the verses changed,” she said. “I flipped through it. I liked it.” When she took it home, she noticed a yellowed folded letter inside. “And a couple times, I opened the Bible and I looked at this side and I looked at the other side,” she said.
Two months went by before Shurtleff took a closer look. “And then I opened it up, and instantly I saw my name,” she explained. “I recognized my handwriting. I hollered. I started shaking. I cried. I had goose bumps.” Slipped in between the pages was an essay that Shurtleff wrote 65 years ago to earn her merit badge for Girl Scouts, when she was living 2,000 miles away. It read in part, “Be kind to animals. Do not pick flowers. Don’t walk on the grass.” A cancer survivor, Shurtleff sees the discovery as a sign from above and has an idea of how she'll solve the mystery.
Watch the full clip for more.
It was last December when Marion Shurtleff needed a Bible to do an exercise in Bible study class. They were trying to figure out how and why various editions translate scripture so differently.
She got up that morning and drove across town to Mathom House Books in San Clemente where she often goes. She was almost out of the door when she remembered the exercise. The salesman pointed her to three used Bibles on a shelf. She bought two of them.
One, she really liked: "The People's Study Bible." Everywhere that Jesus is quoted, the text is printed in red. That spoke to her.
Shurtleff noticed when she bought it that there were a couple of thin sheets of paper stuffed in the middle. Initially, she paid them no mind.
And then one day in February, her curiosity finally got the best of her. She flipped to the middle, and pulled out the three wispy-thin and badly yellowed pieces of paper.
She looked at the name on the top of the first page. Immediately she froze. She looked again, squinting this time to make sure her eyes were not playing tricks.
Marion Shurtleff screamed. She screamed again.
And then she cried.
We need to back up here. And I mean way back.
Shurtleff was born Nov. 5, 1937 in Covington, Ken., a town just across the river from Cincinnati. Her father was a truck driver, and her mother a bookkeeper. Hers was an ordinary childhood, she says, a carefree one where a kid could get up in the morning, play in the park and walk the streets with her friends until the sun went down.
Being a Girl Scout in those days was the biggest thing, she remembers. They met every Friday. Sometimes there were camp-outs, but the biggest thing was just being with her friends.
Her name then was Mary Lou Hesser, and she hated it. That was especially true when she got older and entered the business world.
"I was being treated as this Southern, blonde, 'Mary Lou' bimbo at every turn, so I changed it," she said. "I chose Marion because it was kind of close to Mary Lou, and Lewis because it was close to Lou. I deliberately took the male spelling of Marion, and you know what? All of a sudden I got respect."
In June 1964, she married and moved with her husband to Long Beach where they had two children. He died young, and she ended up raising the kids all alone.
Marion Shurtleff is a delight. She is straight-forward, a woman who cannot resist a joke that is always followed with a hearty laugh. She tells of marrying Hugh Shurtleff, now 94, a widower and an astute, highly successful businessman she had known for years.
"Hey," she says, "I wasn't bad looking back then. I was -- what do you call it? -- wrist candy. Not bad for a Kentucky girl."
She and Hugh married in 1984, and she moved to Atlanta. Ten years later, Hugh retired, and they moved back to Laguna Niguel before settling into their current expansive home on top of a hill in San Clemente.
Last December arrived.
She hadn't gone to Mathom House Books that day specifically looking for a Bible. Indeed, her Bible study assignment didn't occur to her until just as she was leaving the store.
"I was almost out the door when, I don't know why, I asked, 'Do you have any Bibles?'"
And then came February when she finally pulled out the three thin sheets of paper.
"You can imagine my shock," she said. "All I could say was, 'Oh, my God!'"
At the top of the first sheet was the name: Mary Lou Hesser. It was dated May 28, 1948. "Foot Traveler Badge," she entitled it.
"1. A good hiker stands erect, shoulders back, chest out, stomach in, walks with arms at side, swinging slightly and at a moderate pace."
It goes on like this for three pages.
At the top of the first page, it is signed "OK. Bonnie Jean Edwards."
"I started shaking. I started crying," remembered Shurtleff, holding the three pages she had not held in her hands for 65 years.
How was this possible? The Bible had been printed in 1986. And who would bother to keep a 9-year-old girl's foot traveler essay in their Bible? She couldn't remember Bobbie Jean Edwards, but thinks she might have been the troop leader.
"I told a couple of people, including my husband and some friends, and they all believed me," Shurtleff said. "Some of my other friends were, 'No way!'"
I give her a sideways look that says maybe she just forgot she had put the essay into the Bible. She looks at me as if I had just slapped her dog.
"Now why would I make any of this up?" she asks.
She went back to the bookstore. The man behind the counter was floored, she said.
Did he know who brought the Bible in? she asked. He scanned the tag the store had glued into the first page of the Bible. He did know, but for privacy reasons, he couldn't tell Shurtleff their names.