I tore open the last of a pile of small paper envelopes holding spare buttons from dresses long ago discarded and, like the California ‘49ers, I discovered gold.

“Yeehaw! Look what I found,” I held up a gold cap for a molar to show my husband.

“I struck gold,” I shouted when I called my daughter. “Now what do I do with it?”

“Sell it on Ebay,” she said.

I dismissed the notion until I looked up dental gold and found completed listings with prices that caught my attention. That molar cap really was worth its weight in gold. I could go out to eat at a fancy restaurant. “Whoa Bessie! maybe that there Ebay is worth a try!”

I copied other postings and shot a picture of the gold cap on our metric scale with its weight displayed. I began the auction at a third less than its real value. Then, just because Ebay offers sellers the option, I offered a “buy it now” price at a third above its market value.

“Hey, if someone wants to pay that much for it, I’ll take their money,” I said.

Within an hour someone bid and two others offered to pay the retail value. I declined. I wanted to see how much grub I could get.

The price rose every day. Meanwhile I had other sold items to package and ship. Five days before the gold auction ended, someone bought a gold plated brooch. I went to my Ebay shelf to get it and it was gone. I began panning for that gold brooch. It meant money in my pocket. The rest of the day I spent fulfilling my New Year’s resolution to be more organized and found the pin.

Three days before the auction ended, I went to get the finger-tip sized chunk of gold. My heart sank, I could not find it.

“I know it is here,” I muttered as I sifted through small items like a prospector at the stream.

My husband joined me. His pan came up empty.

I asked a friend to pray it be found. I did not want to have to end the auction as “item no longer available for sale.”

Later as I prepared supper, I vaguely remembered putting the gold in an envelope for safe keeping. I went back to the basket of small items, pulled out the white envelope I had ignored earlier, and found it. I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the auction.

We struck gold in that auction. The final bid was a dollar above my ridiculous “buy it now” price.

My husband carefully packaged and insured the gold for its selling price and we dropped it off at the post office.

Three days later, the buyer sent a message, “There is no postal tracking of my gold.”

Say what! After all that fuss, it surely could not be lost in the mail!

I checked the tracking number. We talked with the postal clerk.

I wrote the buyer. “If it does not show up, we will refund your money” … and not go to that fancy eating place in town. I told myself, “it was just a novelty that someone else long ago lost in their collection of extra buttons. It didn’t cost me anything.”

Then I prayed and left it alone.


A couple days later, I looked at the post office tracking website. “Delivered.”

My prospects turned out to be prosperous.

I could keep the money, eat out and tell the story of finding gold in “them thar” piles of buttons.

— Joan Hershberger is a retired journalist who has written her award-winning, slice-of-life columns for more than a decade. She lives in Parkers Chapel.