Still Waters: ‘Strange inheritance’ might reveal treasure – or not


My big sister and her husband turned me on to “Strange Inheritance,” a television show focusing on exactly what it says, “strange inheritances.”

“I inherited a wreck,” one woman said. She and her brothers literally inherited a shipwreck that their father had spent his whole life searching for and then recovering items from. (He had to fight in court to get legal title to it as well.) It was a Spanish ship that sank off the Florida coast, if my memory is correct. This literally had been a search for sunken treasure, and the ship does contain gold and other treasure.

Not all of the strange inheritances are valuable. Two brothers who inherited several storage units of their cousin’s photo collection were almost begging the viewing public to buy them and take them off their hands. Their cousin had run a successful pre-internet business selling photos of famous people. Once the internet took hold, his business was no longer relevant and after living off of his savings for a bit, he wound up homeless and begging for money on the street. His body was fished out of a local canal, a drowning under suspicious circumstances, probably connected to someone he owed money to. He had something like five storage units full of filing cabinets and boxes of them. Some were just glossy photos that movie studios had sent out to promote celebrities. Others were more unique and therefore more valuable. But it would take more than one person the rest of a life to go through them and determine what might be worth something. Meanwhile, these gents are paying the storage unit fees.

Another lady inherited her mom’s photos from when she shot cute babies, but this heir is finding a way to turn it into cash for herself, something the gent with the glossies in the storage unit was never able to do.

Some folks inherit an item of historical significance, like something belonging to Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or Jane Austen.

Some of the inheritances are pretty wild, like a house carved out of a redwood tree. This lady’s grandfather, who was a logger, carved a house for his family out of a redwood, and he passed it on to his son who passed it on to this heir who carts it around on a big semi to various fairs and events around the country where visitors make a donation to tour it. I don’t think anybody lives in it now, but it is pretty cool and has about everything a person would need, bedroom, living room, kitchen…didn’t see a bathroom though! The heir said she has had offers to sell it but cleverly responded, “you don’t sell your family tree.”

Some of the stories are more poignant, like the brothers who inherited a box when their father died, and inside was their dad’s lifelong investigation into the family’s belongings that the Nazis had stolen during World War II. He had never talked with his family about it, but all of his life he had been trying to recover stolen artwork and other valuable items that had been taken from the family. His sons were now continuing his quest, with some successes.

It’s a fascinating show with some pretty unique inheritances.

I’m afraid when I pass away, nobody’s going to find anything of value among my belongings. They might want to just light a match and call the house fire an “accident.” There might be a few profound thoughts jotted here and there, but only somebody who knows shorthand would be able to decipher those, and there’s not much market for a few profound thoughts.

Otherwise, there’s a bunch of newspapers that I always thought I’d find time to go through but will probably wind up being fire starter for someone on a cold winter night.

If there is anything of real value in the strange inheritance I’ll leave my heirs, I’ll be as surprised as anybody!

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