Bobby Kapsidis was in the process of renovating his mother’s house in Holiday, Florida, when he made a rare and exciting discovery. Indeed, as he was taking apart a soffit with a crowbar, an unusual object tumbled out of the ceiling and hit him right in the face.
Bobby, 34, an aircraft mechanic from Sierra Vista, Arizona, had bought the house with his wife Megan, 31, in 2009, and on June 1, 2017, they arrived in Holiday to begin repairs on it. “Finally in Florida and working on our house!” Megan wrote on Facebook. “Some before and during pictures just to show that we haven’t burnt the palace down yet.”
The pair’s renovation plans included repainting the walls and removing an obtrusive soffit that jutted across the kitchen ceiling. But all work came to a halt with the surprise discovery. What’s more, after Megan published photos of it on Facebook, national news outlets were knocking on their door.
Bobby had begun the job by cutting into the soffit with an electric saw. Then, he took a crowbar to it and started levering it out of place. The panels cracked away easily. So far, so good, then. However, Bobby had now created a situation that demanded immediate attention.
By tearing a hole in the kitchen ceiling, Bobby had exposed part of the attic above. Somewhat puzzlingly, moreover, there appeared to be a number of objects buried beneath the insulation. In fact, he was alerted to the cache when something fell out and hit him.
“Bobby really wanted to tear down the soffit at 8 o’clock at night, and I couldn’t stop him,” Megan wrote in a Facebook post in June 2017. “Then, this 1940-50s genuine alligator purse from Cuba fell out of the ceiling… so not a bad night after all!”
Unfortunately, the alligator purse was not the kind of accessory you’d want to show off; in fact, it was quite hideous. Complete with head, tail and legs, the skin of a single baby alligator had been stitched into its back and cover. This was definitely a novelty item, not a fashion accessory.
Meanwhile, after locating a stamp stating that the purse was genuine alligator skin and made in Cuba, Bobby checked it for further clues. There was nothing to suggest that it contained anything of interest, however, much less something of value. Instead, Bobby found his real prize hidden in the hole.
“Stuff just keeps falling from our ceiling!” Megan subsequently wrote in a Facebook post. “Now it’s someone’s wedding album!” A wedding album isn’t, of course, the first thing that you might expect to find stashed in an attic. Moreover, flicking through the pages, Bobby and Megan were wowed.
“I reached in the insulation and I pulled out this wedding book,” Bobby told ABC News. “It’s old and kind of dusty, and I said, ‘This is pretty incredible’ – just seeing something nostalgic like that. I have no idea why they’d keep it up in the attic.”
The ceremony appeared to have taken place in the 1960s. It was a classic white wedding complete with traditional attire and bridesmaids. Who the album belonged to and why they had left it in the house were, however, a mystery. Indeed, were the pictured couple even alive or together anymore?
“My first reaction was, ‘Wow, what a beautiful wedding,’” Megan told ABC News. “I sat looking through it and thought, ‘We need to find these people.’” But without anything to identify the couple except wedding photos taken decades ago, there seemed to be little hope of finding them.
Nonetheless, understanding the huge sentimental value of the album, Megan was determined to try. “[Bobby and I] got married five years ago, and all our photos are digital,” she said. “In 1963 they didn’t have digital photos. This book is all they had, and I want to get it back to them for that reason.”
Fortunately, Bobby and Megan did find a clue hidden inside the hole: an invitation from a Mr. and Mrs. Gerard Lau to the marriage of their daughter Marguerite. The groom was a Mr. Joseph Gargiulo, and the event was scheduled for Saturday, September 14, 1963, at 3:00 p.m.
The venue, meanwhile, was St. Thomas Apostle Roman Catholic Church on 87th Street and 88th Avenue in Woodhaven, Queens, New York. And the reception was billed for later in the evening at the Senior Petty Officers Mess at Brooklyn’s New York Naval Shipyard. “Cocktail Hour at 6 pm,” read a note at the bottom.
Bobby and Megan now had a real chance of locating the couple if they were still around. And when Megan put out a shout on Facebook, she received thousands of replies from commenters, interested parties and amateur genealogists. Plus, before long the media had picked up the story, too.
“Bobby and I were just interviewed by a reporter in New York about the wedding album that fell out of the ceiling in our Florida home!” Megan wrote on Facebook. “The story airs tonight! I hope we find the family and we get to return her memories to her! Fingers crossed!!”
The story was in fact picked up by Fox News and a host of other outlets, and soon enough all the coverage paid off. On June 8 Megan announced that they had located Marguerite and returned the album – and purse – to her. The experience, said Megan, had been a privilege.
“She is the sweetest lady, and both of us were very emotional, reminiscing about her wedding day,” she wrote. “This has been a very humbling experience for both Bobby and I, and we will never forget it. Thank you Marguerite for sharing your memories with us, and we look forward to future visits with you.”
Marguerite, though grateful for the return of the album, has requested that her privacy is respected. Meanwhile, Bobby and Megan’s renovation work continues. Who knows how their new home will shape up, but the discovery of a long-lost wedding album in the attic surely bodes well for their future together.