A tale of two honest boys

Family unknowningly repays good deed done 15 years ago

Posted: Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Honesty came full circle for Faye Bain earlier this week.

Bain had reported her purse stolen from her place of work, Northstar Hot Tubs. She was delighted when the Juneau Police Department called her Sunday to let her know it had been found. They gave her the name and phone number of the finder, James Lown, 11.

``When I called, I said to his mother (Janet Lown), `I would like to have James there when I pick it up so I can give him some kind of reward,''' Bain said.

``She said, `That's not necessary.'

``And I said, `Oh, yes it is. Fourteen or 15 years ago my son found an envelope containing some jewelry ...''

``And she interrupted me, and said, `Was it nugget jewelry and a string of pearls?'''

Simultaneously it dawned on the two women that they had met before; that Robert Bain, Faye's son, had found that jewelry and those very pearls when he was 9 or 10. And Janet had given him a $50 reward.

``His eyes were as big as saucers,'' Faye Bain recalled. ``He was so impressed that the next two years he took a long time walking home from school because he was looking everywhere; he thought he had found a gold mine'' (in rewards for recovering lost property).

Robert, now 25, lives in Seattle. The $50 was spent on a radio-controlled car, still stored carefully in one of his mother's closets.

Janet Lown, a retired police officer, describes her son as ``just a normal boy who plays in the woods.'' James was playing with his friend Nathan Wilson when he found the purse in some weeds behind Faith Lutheran Church.

``It was really an amazing coincidence,'' Faye Bain said. ``I shook (James' hand) and told him he was a fine young man. And I told him the story of his mother and myson.''

It turned out that Lown's daughter Sarah had borrowed the jewelry for show-and-tell. ``I didn't know she had it, and, of course, all three daughters denied any knowledge.'' Later Sarah confessed, and retrieved the battered envelope containing the jewelry. However, it bounced out of her bicycle basket somewhere between school and home.

``We all searched the roadside but couldn't find it. The jewelry had sentimental value, so I was so glad when I got the call from Faye,'' Lown said.

Robert just happened to find the envelope. He and his mother traced it to the Lowns with the help of school officials.

Sarah, now 24, works as a dispatcher with the Juneau Police Department.

Although Bain recovered her purse, she is still lacking $80 in cash and two rings with sentimental value. One ring belonged to her deceased mother. It is gold with a large, square, pink birthstone. The other is one of a set of four her brother had custom-made in Idaho for her and her three sisters. It is silver, set with an oval of blue, fossilized dinosaur bone.

``I'm offering a reward,'' she said.

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