*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
In the early 1960s, my parents were poor, but they subsisted on what they earned. Then, in the mid-1960s, they became financially stable enough to save money away for a rainy day.
My parents thought they were doing well when they had $300 extra dollars squirreled away. It took my parents a while to get there, but they had improved their finances, and things were finally looking up for them. They were proud of themselves and cautiously optimistic about the future.
My father hid the money in a secret place. It was such a secret that my mother didn't even know where it was. My father was the only one who knew the location of their precious $300 savings.
Then one day, my parents had an emergency and agreed to retrieve the money from its hiding spot. "Let's get our little stash and use that," my father told my mother. "Isn't that what it's for?"
My mother agreed with him.
So my father went to his hiding spot to get the money, and it was gone.
My parents felt devastated. To them, $300 was a small fortune. According to an online inflation calculator, "$300 in 1965 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $2,738.13 today." That was a tidy sum of money for a couple of newlyweds who were just starting out, and it was a lot of money to lose in one fell swoop.
Where had the money gone? Neither of them knew the answer to that question.
They didn't sleep for days trying to figure out where the money had gone. Had my father misplaced the money? Was there another hiding spot he had forgotten about?
Had someone broken into their home and found the money? If so, they had been discreet. There was no sign of a break-in, and neither of them had told anyone about the hiding spot. My mother couldn't have disclosed the hiding spot even if she wanted to because she still didn't know where my father had hidden their money.
And now it was gone.
After the money went missing, my father finally told my mother where it had been. He had tucked it away inside one of their vinyl record albums. No one but my father was allowed to touch his precious records. So he had slipped the money inside the cardboard sleeve of his favorite 33 RPM LP albums.
He played that record every night before bed to relax, and every night, he checked to make sure the money was still there. So how did it go missing between one night and the next afternoon when he went looking for it, and where had it gone?
My parents went about their lives as best they could, minus their missing nest egg. The incident rattled my father so much that he stopped listening to his vinyl records. Even his favorite LP, the one where he had hidden the money, went unplayed for months.
Desperate, my parents even consulted a psychic, who told them to stand outside at midnight. She said the first conversation they overheard would give them a clue to the whereabouts of their missing money.
According to my mother, she thought the psychic's advice was "too creepy," and they decided not to follow through with her instructions.
The following day, my father revisited his record collection. He was dusting off his albums with a handkerchief, and he took his favorite record out of its cardboard sleeve to polish off any residual fingerprints.
He pulled out the record and screamed when a flurry of ten and twenty-dollar bills hit the floor.
My mother turned to follow the sound of my father's screams and saw him picking up the money and tossing it back into the air like it was confetti.
After they settled down, they stacked up the money and counted it. It was all there, except ...
"There weren't any ten-dollar bills here before," my father said. "It was only twenties, and now ..."
Sure enough, my mother swears they had saved and hidden $300 in twenty-dollar bills, but when the money returned, it had somehow become a combination of twenties and tens. To this day, they have never figured out what really happened.