At the end of World War II there was an Army surplus store in
downtown Columbia. I bought some canvas bags, a canteen and an
olive drab colored money belt.
The belt had soft leather on the next-to-the-skin surface and
had three compartments folded twice to keep paper money se-cure.
An outer flap covered the whole thing.
I wrote my name, address and passport number under the outer
flap in case it would be lost. Nancy and Walt thought it was
"gross," of course, and said, "It’ll show
under your blouse." The belt was so comfortable I wore it
night and day.
We had ridden our bikes over a hundred miles in Europe before
Nancy put her arm around my waist and said, "What in the
world have you got on?" It was the money belt, protecting
our emergency cash and checks on Columbia Savings Bank.
When I showered I rolled it into a cylinder and stuffed it
into my shoe, I became quite fond of the old thing, which I
mended with white thread once, on the road. I used it when I took
seven Christian College girls on a bike tour Europe in 1970.
The next year I took more students and chose Millie Neill,
from the previous tour, to be assistant leader. I always had the
money belt with blank checks and at least $200 of my own money.
Millie, a fine rider and good mechanic, shared the
responsibilities and knew where I carried the emergency funds.
She is now Mrs. Floyd Kaiser, owner of "Silks and More"
on Bernadette Drive in Columbia.
One day we took the ferry boat from Wales to Cork, Ireland.
When I undressed for my shower that evening my money belt was
I knew at once that I had hung it over the top of the shower
stall at the youth hostel in St. Briavels Castle because of deep
water on the shower room floor. I thought I had hung it where I
While Millie and the college students went to kiss the Blarney
Stone, I went to the nearest post office. "Please stamp this
letter carefully with plenty of postage needed to get it to St.
Briavels Castle Youth Hostel in England without delay." The
fellow assured me it would be delivered promptly,
My message to Mrs. O’Leary, the "warden’s"
wife, was this: "If the money belt has been turned in,
please take a generous amount of money for your trouble and the
postal charges and mail the rest to me at..." and I gave the
name and address of the place where we would be in northern
England 10 days later. I also gave my home address on the
The plan didn’t work because I had no letters or packages
at the specified hostel. I didn’t tell Millie or the others
how careless I’d been.
In October, three months later, I stopped at our rural mail
box on my way home from work and was surprised to find a blue
mailer from Europe.
How could it have my own handwriting on it? It was stamped
"insufficient postage" and "return to
The Irish post office had returned it to me in Missouri, for
more Irish stamps, to get it to Mrs. O’Leary in England.
I had no hope of ever seeing that old worn out belt again but
I knew Mrs. O’Leary would enjoy the story so I sent a note
and the old well-traveled blue mailer.
I had her reply in four days. She said: "You won’t
believe this but we burned all of the unclaimed items the day
before your letter arrived. I didn’t know what that thing
was and I picked it out and tossed it aside just out of
curiosity. I hadn’t touched it until I received your
Then she added, "Your money and checks are on their way