While stuck at home during the COVID pandemic, 90-year old Colorado resident Kenneth Felts decided it was the opportune time to write his memoir. It provided him a way to safely pass the time. But Felts had hidden a big part of his life from everyone he knew. If he didn’t detail it in his writing, he would be lying to himself yet again. Felts reflected on painful memories and loved ones until he decided enough was enough. He spilled all his secrets.
Kenneth Felts felt a wave of emotion rush over him as he sat down to begin his memoir. At 90-years old, he had lived a long life filled with enough material for a sprawling epic.
3rd Hour of Today
Where to start the story? With so many memories to pull from, Felts realized he had a bigger issue. The question wasn’t where to begin but what to include. He had a secret he was prepared to keep until he gave his last breath.
Denver7 / Youtube
Felts remembered all too well his strict, religious upbringing in Kansas. It came to a frustrating peak when in 1942, at 12-years old, Felts realized he was different from most other kids.
Full Circle / CNN
He was gay, and Felts knew coming out was impossible. He didn’t feel safe being open about it in his home, and his orientation was a secret that not even his closet friends could know. He was very much afraid of the repercussions.
As a young adult in the ’50s, Felts finally acted upon his feelings and became intimate with men, but through very careful encounters. When the ’60s came, Felts served in the Navy and became even more cautious.
In an interview with Today, Felts stated, “If you came out, it really would cost you — your family, your job, all of your relationships. You would immediately be called a pervert.”
Kenneth Felts / Facebook
After his time in the Navy, Felts met a young man named Phillip. It was love at first sight. For two years, they were inseparable. In another time and another place, they might have stayed together for the rest of their lives.
World Teach / Youtube
“It was a void in my life that had suddenly been filled by another person who, apparently, had some of the same needs,” Felts said. “And we just melted into each other.”
After struggling with his religious values, Felts realized he had to stop seeing Phillip. The decision to end things haunted Felts for all the years after, but he couldn’t see any other option.
Felts met a woman whom he married and had a child with. While the marriage didn’t survive, the bond between Felts and his daughter, Rebecca, was strong. And in the ’90s, she came out to her closeted father.
Felts accepted Rebecca with all his heart. Yet, even with this revelation, it would be 25 more years until he decided it was time to reveal his own truth.
When Felts finally came out, Rebecca accepted him like he had with her. Then a snowball effect occurred. Felts turned to Facebook and wrote a post. At 90 years old, with no turning back, Felts came out publicly.
Relatives and friends offered love and support. From the Facebook post, Felts also detailed his desire to find his lost love, Phillip. After strangers learned about it, a search was made to reunite the lovers.
Daily Blast LIVE/Youtube
In the modern digital age, anything is possible. One day, Felts found a message someone had sent to him. Someone had found Phillip, but the news wasn’t what Felts had wished for.
US Navy / Facebook
Felts learned that Phillip had found another love and that the pair had shared a long life together. A few years ago, Phillip’s partner had passed away. By the time the search had begun, Phillip had passed too.
Felts turned to Facebook to give an update to those who had been following his story. He vented his frustrations and pain that came with knowing the end to Phillip’s story.
Denver7 / Youtube
Felts wrote, “It is so terribly frustrating to be so close to and yet not reach my lost love and horribly painful to not be able to say good-by. But the whole world now knows what a loving man he was with me and to me while we were together.”
Although Felts was distraught, he didn’t stop reading new messages sent to him and engaging with his new followers. Many generations within the LGBTQ community had been inspired by Felts’ story.
“A lot of them telling me that they’ve got more courage now to come out,” he said with a smile in an interview with Today, also adding, “I’m out, I’m gay and I’m free.”
Though he was 10 years shy of his milestone 100th birthday, Felts could enjoy living an authentic life at last. It had all started with his plan to write a memoir, and now it seemed there were still so many chapters left to come.
In his online correspondence, Felts was also touched to hear stories of other long-lost lovers. If you spotted these two lovebirds back in the 1960s, it would have been safe to assume they were ready to spend the rest of their lives together. In fact, there was nothing they wanted more. But things weren’t so simple.
Janice Rude came from a working class family in Reno, Nevada. Her father encouraged her to seek a better life than the one he had, and so Janice set off to earn a degree in biology. Her father agreed to help her pay her tuition.
Janice enrolled in Occidental College in the early 1960s. By her sophomore year, she was doing well in her classes and figured she had a handle on university life. But one turn of events changed it all: she fell in love.
Though he was only a freshman, Prentiss Wilson made an immediate splash on campus. He won the presidency of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and rebelled against its national brotherhood when they refused to admit a black student. This bold stand made Prentiss hard to forget, notwithstanding the fact he was charming and handsome.
For Janice, he looked like her knight in shining armor. She worked in the school cafeteria to help pay for her education, and Prentiss made a point of chatting with her every day. Both students eagerly hoped to bump into each other on campus, though they hadn’t learned each others’ names yet.
Prentiss made sure he was among the first students to enter the cafeteria every meal, just so he would have extra time to talk with Janice. After a few weeks of flirtation, he worked up the courage to ask what her name was. He never forgot it.
While these brief conversations continued for months, the relationship didn’t evolve beyond that. Both Janice and Prentiss were clearly enamored with one another, but neither felt brave enough to suggest an actual date.
Finally, Janice decided to take action. After learning that Prentiss went home to spend Thanksgiving with his family, she hopped in her car and drove 160 miles to his home. She knocked on his door but was at a total loss for words when Prentiss answered.
But Janice didn’t need to say a word. Prentiss was over the moon that his cafeteria crush suddenly showed up at his front door. He invited her inside, where Janice met his parents and even shared their Thanksgiving meal.
After that fateful holiday, Janice and Prentiss were inseparable. As their love flourished, the two students began making plans for a future. It seemed perfectly natural — why wouldn’t they be together forever?
Then Prentiss made the big leap. He proposed, and Janice said yes! They were never more in love than at this very moment. Little did they realize, however, that not everyone approved of their imminent marriage.
Janice’s father had no interest in seeing his daughter get married so young and throw away her future. He gave her an ultimatum: either leave Prentiss, or she would stop receiving tuition — and likely never graduate.
Earning a diploma meant everything to Janice. Tearfully, she broke off her engagement to keep her family ties and professional hopes intact. She and Prentiss were both, of course, devastated.
The ex-fiances went their separate ways, though they never forgot each other. Prentiss became a tax attorney in San Francisco, while Janice ran a successful diving board company in Seattle. Both of them married other people, though the unions later ended in divorce.
Nearly five decades later, Janice’s mother passed away. As she was going through her mom’s personal effects, Janice found something totally unexpected in a purse: a newspaper clipping announcing the Rude-Willson engagement. If her mother carried it after all these years, Janice realized, her romance with Prentiss must have really meant something.
History in Orbit
The tricky part was that Janice barely made any contact with Prentiss in the years following graduation. Now, she couldn’t get him out of her head. Was she crazy to still be thinking about her old flame after almost 50 years?
Through the grapevine, Janice learned that Prentiss was essentially in the same boat she was in. Not only had his mother recently passed away, but he, too, was divorced. It seemed like fate. Hoping for a miracle, Janice gave him a call.
Just like when Janice showed up on Prentiss’ doorstep on Thanksgiving, she was reaching out to him out of the blue. As luck would have it, he was once again elated to find Janice checking in on him. And Prentiss had one more remarkable coincidence to share.
His mother also carried around a newspaper clipping about their engagement during all those years apart! It seemed like a sign. Within two months, these star-crossed lovers were engaged to be married for the second time.
This go-around, however, nobody could stand in Prentiss and Janice’s way. They finally married each other in 2012 on Occidental College’s campus, surrounded by old friends and classmates.
The couple regrets they had to spend so much time away from one another, but they’re now more focused on what’s ahead. These days, Janice and Prentiss are always driving off to some new adventure, and no road is off-limits.
Amazingly, just like Janice, another elderly woman named Marty was brought right back to her high school love life by an old relic. While workers were hard at work tearing down the decrepit Jeffersonville High School, they stumbled across a long-forgotten cache.
Before bulldozing the rubble, one worker, fortunately, spotted this lost purse. Though covered in dust and grime, it appeared to be in fair condition. And based on its weight, the bag was filled to the brim with objects.
The workers took a break and decided to rummage through the bag. They expected to find some junk that teenagers stashed in the past few months, but nothing of the sort popped out. Instead, they gazed upon a bundle of objects from the early 1950s.
A few newspaper clippings confirmed the date, and the retro items inside matched the era perfectly. For example, the crew popped open a vintage tube of lipstick that must’ve belonged to a high school girl way back when. Underneath that was a clue to her identity.
Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools
A letter, carefully folded up, lined the bottom of the bag. Written to “Marty” from “Torchy,” it appeared to be some kind of love note! The message hinted at a love triangle, as both the writer and a boy named Paul wanted to take Marty to prom.
News and Tribune
The workers notified the school board, and together they tried to figure out the owner of the abandoned purse. Based on the personal information and date of the news clippings, they guessed it must have belonged to Martha Ina Ingham, class of 1955.
Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools
Miraculously, they were able to track down Martha, now splitting her time between Maryland and Florida, and ask her about the bag. The octogenarian confirmed she’d lost it long ago, and she revealed the dramatic story behind her love letter.
Facebook / Marty Ingham Everett
Reportedly, Martha — or “Marty” — was quite the catch back in the day. Both Paul and Torchy asked her to prom, but in the end, she decided to take an entirely different date: a boy named Carter Williams.
Facebook / Greater Clark County Schools
Martha’s and Carter’s relationship didn’t last past senior year, but the Jeffersonville alum was ecstatic to get her old purse and belongings back. They conjured up memories that hadn’t crossed her mind for decades.
Martha understandably had no interest in reviving this old romance, but there’s no denying that thoughts of high school flames stay with us. Coincidentally, half a country away, a Georgia woman learned a similar lesson while cleaning her house.
One chilly day in 2019, Ann Caldwell of Augusta, Georgia, decided to straighten up her house a little bit. But her spring cleaning threw her for a loop. Instead of bringing her ahead to the next season, one surprise took her back sixty years.
The older woman lived alone, so she knew just about every inch of her home. When she cleared out a cluttered drawer, however, an unfamiliar sparkle in the back caught her eye. She reached for it — and gasped.
It was a class ring! Judging by its gold sheen and black engravings, it held great sentimental value — except Ann had no idea how it got there. The inscription had the initials C.S. and indicated the owner graduated from Weatherford High School in 1959.
This information only heightened the mystery. While Ann lived in Georgia, Weatherford High was four states away in Oklahoma! She had serious doubts about whether she’d ever track down the owner, but Ann knew she had to try.
After a bit of research, Ann enlisted the help of Chad Wilson, the Weatherford Superintendent of Schools. Chad had access to all the records from the area but couldn’t make any promises about an answer.
Facebook / Kiwanis Club of Weatherford, OK
Chad got his hands on a yearbook from 1959, the same year on the ring. The only other information he had was the initials C.S., but luckily only one student in the 62-person senior class matched them.
Chad and Ann’s likely target was Coy Sullivan, who also was one of the three valedictorians of the class. It was a revelation, but the case hit a brick wall. Chad couldn’t find any current contact information for Coy. He wasn’t even sure he was alive!
Months passed by, and Chad almost gave up on the ring mystery. He still kept digging in his spare time, and one day he hit pay dirt. On Facebook, he came across the profile of Justin Sullivan, the adult son of Coy. Chad sent a message and held his breath.
Amazingly, Justin responded and confirmed that Coy was still very much alive! The elderly man remembered the ring well, too. He said that it was one of his most treasured possessions, and he always wondered what happened to it.
Ann was thrilled to hear that the ring’s owner had stepped forward. She immediately shipped it off to Coy’s home but also struck up a correspondence with him. More than anything, she wanted to know how a stranger’s ring from 1959 wound up in her house.
Together, they pieced together the answer. Ann’s late husband’s family used to run a laundry near Coy’s high school. At some point, he must’ve left the class ring in a pocket and sent that clothing out for washing.
The timing of Ann’s discovery was convenient, too. Coy had his 60th school reunion coming up, so he was excited to show off his long-lost ring at the ceremony. It’s funny how high school can make such an impact on us.
Clifton High School
For instance, Adrian Pearce and Vicki Allen were high school sweethearts, together for nearly 2 years. Sadly, like most romances, it eventually came to an end, but Adrian was left with a memento he’d never forget.
It was Vicki who ultimately ended the relationship, and Adrian hadn’t seen it coming. It was right before the holidays, so it was a rough time to break up, but Vicki insisted on giving Adrian the present she bought for him.
Spending Christmas without his beloved left Adrian heartbroken — so much so, that he refused to open the mysterious gift. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to toss it out, so he put it under his tree and left it there.
As years went by, Adrian fell in love once again, this time with a woman named Valerie. Having nearly forgotten all about Vicki, he married Valerie without hesitation and together they started a family.
But the one time a year that Adrian would think of his ex-girlfriend was right before Christmas, as he continued to put out the present that he never unwrapped beneath the tree. Naturally, his family deemed it a bit odd and wondered what it could be.
Years turned into decades, and even though Adrian had told his family that he would never open the present, they had finally had enough of the mystery. On the 47th year after the high school break-up, Valerie told him to open it already.
So on December 23 of 2017, Adrian wrote a Facebook post explaining the situation, which sparked a lot of interest from his social media friends. He finished by asking if anyone knew how to track down Vicki so they could reconnect and open the gift together.
As it turned out, one of Adrian’s friends from high school was friends with Vicki on Facebook, and he was happy to connect the two. Happy to hear from him, Vicki invited Adrian and Valerie to fly out and visit her home in British Columbia.
Of course, Adrian was both excited to see his old flame, whom he had long since forgiven, but he was nervous too. So much pressure built up around the present, what could it possibly be? Would Vicki and Valerie get along?
Nevertheless, the Pearces headed to western Canada where they finally caught up with Vicki. While live on CTV, Vicki admitted that she didn’t actually remember what was in the box, but she did recall the circumstances surrounding the present.
As she explained, she had been out shopping for a Christmas gift for her then-boyfriend Adrian when she ran into another guy named Wolf. They got to talking, and he ended up kissing her, but she didn’t pull away… in fact, she kissed him back!
Absolutely riddled with guilt, Vicki decided that the only fair thing to do was to break up with Adrian, but she still wanted to hand him the gift she had so carefully sought out for him. Forty-seven years later, here they were, ready to reveal what was inside.
With cameras all around, Adrian handed the present to Vicki to do the honors of unwrapping the gift. As soon as she peeled off the wrapping paper, her face turned red, and she muttered there was no way she would have given this to her boyfriend.
After much speculation surrounding what was inside the little package, it turned out to be a book, titled Love Is: New Ways To Spot That Certain Feeling. It was a collection of comic strips by Kim Grove, inspired by letters the author had written to her own husband.
While the book may not have been a teenage boy’s taste, it did have a clear message of love behind it, and that wasn’t all: when Adrian handed it back to Vicki, she opened the book and flipped the pages to reveal a personal note inside of it.
While Adrian preferred to keep the inscription private, he did announce that he would frame the book and its shiny blue wrapping paper as a memory to treasure forever. With that, Adrian and Valerie bade Vicki adieu and headed back home. Still, the story was far from over.
Unable to let go of the story itself, Adrian wrote a book about his experience. The live TV coverage of his meeting with Vicki gave him 15 minutes of fame, which he would use to promote The 47-Year-Old Present.
Aside from the book, Adrian also wanted to incorporate his story using another one of his hobbies – camera work. He announced plans to release a documentary, filmed by the one and only, that would cover what the book did not.
Unfortunately, not everyone was psyched about Adrian’s creative outlets. His own son called the entire story of his father holding onto a 47-year-old present from an ex-girlfriend “stupid.” Even Vicki said the whole ordeal was “a bit worrisome.”
It seemed like the story itself had given Adrian a sense of purpose and a source of inspiration. He was happy to have reconciled with his former love, and to have received some attention for refusing to give up on his dream. Sometimes, the oddest items can become symbols of love…
Adrian and Vicki might be surprised to hear about one unusual longtime romance in California. From their earliest days as a couple, Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski went out of their way to show just how much they loved each other. They weren’t afraid to use unconventional displays of affection either.
They showered each other in presents, even if there wasn’t a special occasion. These two “honey bunnies” went all out, constantly striving to one-up their last gift efforts. Of course, that only became harder and harder.
Jae C. Hong
Ahead of Valentine’s Day in 1993, Steve knew he really had to nail it. Unfortunately, he had no present ideas come to mind, so he wandered out into town and hoped he would stumble upon some inspiration.
Barcroft Images / Per Lind
Noticing a display of Valentine’s goodies, he entered a local florist shop. Steve examined the rows of animals, but the cookie-cutter teddy bears didn’t do anything for him. Then, something caught his eye.
A rabbit figurine spoke to Steve like nothing else had before. Considering the couple’s “honey bunny” pet name, this seemed like the perfect gift! Steve bought it on sight and sped home to see if his intuition paid off.
Los Angeles Times / Gina Ferazzi
Unsurprisingly, the gift positively delighted Candace, and it didn’t take her long to respond. Days later, she gifted Steve a stuffed rabbit of his own. Then he reciprocated, and soon, they were exchanging rabbit-themed gifts every day.
Los Angeles Times / Gina Ferazzi
Candace and Steve’s rabbit habit became well known to all, and it even spread into the biggest day of their lives. On the day of their wedding, Steve arrived at the reception dressed in a giant bunny costume — with proper groom attire underneath.
After five years, the couple’s rabbits were breeding like…rabbits. Most people would’ve stopped the collection, but they couldn’t help themselves. Steve and Candace kept stockpiling bunnies while wondering if they could change their approach.
In 1998, the bunny enthusiasts began substantial work on their home in Pasadena. In addition to interior changes, they erected a gigantic hedge in the shape of a rabbit on their front lawn. Technically speaking, the building wasn’t just a house anymore.
It was now the Bunny Museum! Locals and neighbors hardly knew what to think about the news, but their curiosity got the better of them. Visitors started to trickle in to see what this business was all about.
Flash forward over twenty years later, and the Bunny Museum is one of the most beloved offbeat destinations in the Greater Los Angeles area. Once you take a look at the wonders inside, it’s easy to understand why.
Los Angeles Times / Gina Ferazzi
Now located in a larger location in Altadena, the museum takes guests through sixteen galleries, each loaded to the brim with odes to the long-eared critters. But Steve and Candace are huge attractions themselves.
With visiting hours covering every day of the week, Candace and her husband see the museum as a testament to their love. She doesn’t even mind that a few visitors — apparently not whispering quietly enough — refer to her as “the crazy bunny lady.”
Still, some consider the Bunny Museum atmosphere a bit nuts. Most of the space is a jumble of rabbits, plopped on a shelf without any rhyme or reason. However, there are some very specific exhibitions within the museum.
Take, for example, the section devoted to famous rabbit characters. As you would expect, Bugs Bunny is the star here. The Looney Tunes icon has appeared on more cups, piggy banks, and lunch boxes than you can shake a carrot at.
Steve and Candace also display a comprehensive selection of bunny-themed games and puzzles. However, given the charming disarray of the museum as it is, visitors aren’t exactly allowed to dump out a pile of jigsaw pieces.
The building also houses three real-life rabbits! Guests are more than welcome to pick up and pet the animals. And, for better or worse, a couple past pet bunnies sit taxidermied on the shelves next to the plushies and snow globes.
Facebook / Bunny Museum
Even though its Altadena location isn’t right next to Hollywood, the Bunny Museum has attracted some big-name celebrities. Oscar-nominated actor John C. Reilly has visited with family, while Elijah Wood starred in humorous “commercials” for the museum.
Facebook / Bunny Museum
Steve and Candace officially own the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of rabbit-related items, but they’re not stopping there. They still swap gifts every day, and in their spare time hunt through flea markets for more bunny memorabilia.
And why would the happy couple stop? Their museum is a dream come true, and every day they spend there is just another moment strengthening their bond. When it comes to love, Steve and Candace are all ears.
Facebook / Bunny Museum
Although this rabbit couple is flying high, they’re not the only ones hiding an unbelievable collection in an unassuming building. They’d appreciate this Australian institution, which knows that toys and knick-knacks are more than just decoration.
These days, kids see toys as completely replaceable. Children break, lose, or forget about them without any consequence because their parents can always buy new ones straight off the shelves. But not everyone still treats toys so lightly.
On a quiet street in Sydney, Australia, a group of people regard toys as precious objects — almost as if they’re people. They do everything they can to make sure these items remain in pristine conditions for future generations. But not for free.
If you were to glance through the window, you would be forgiven for mistaking these experts for doctors. Their work does resemble surgery. They even think of themselves as medical professionals, in a sense. That’s probably how they came up with their business name.
Meet the hard workers behind the Original Doll Hospital. This unusual establishment has served the greater Sydney area for over 100 years now. Of course, a specialized business like this doesn’t just pop up for no good reason.
Back in 1913, an Australian general store owner named Mr. Chapman imported Japanese dolls, which were popular at the time. However, the fragile figurines often cracked and broke during the voyage. Chapman couldn’t make any profit off of damaged goods.
So he turned to his brother, Harold Chapman, for some assistance. A local handyman, Harold had a knack for fixing up just about anything. With his vast array of tools and close attention to detail, he began repairing his brother’s broken dolls.
As more and more Sydneysiders learned of Harold’s skill, he opened up his own repair business in the back of the general store. While he patched up all manner of household goods, toys became his specialty.
Following the end of the Second World War, Australia lifted its importing restrictions and Harold found himself flooded with more business than he could handle. It was a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.
With his clientele base growing, Harold needed more hands on deck. He passed along the shop to his son, Harold Jr., who understood they needed more space for their large inventory. He relocated the store to its current location.
All these years later, the Original Doll Hospital remains a family business. Geoff Chapman, the grandson of the elder Harold, acts as the owner and “surgeon-in-chief.” Even in his 70s, he takes playing with toys quite seriously. But how has he been at it for so long?
It’s hard to believe how a doll hospital could survive in the age of online shopping, but to put it simply, they are good at what they do. Few other establishments in Australia, or the world, can mend precious items with such surgical precision.
Plus, they deal in saving highly personal and sentimental possessions. Most are one of a kind. Geoff says it’s not unusual to see a customer burst into tears once they see a previously damaged item restored to mint condition.
And make no mistake: this is hard work. Each member of Geoff’s team is a trained professional, and any slip-ups could result in an irreversible mistake. They might not be M.D.s, but that doesn’t mean they don’t take their job seriously. The hospital comparisons don’t end there either.
The front of the store even presents itself as a type of hospital, with separate areas dedicated to different types of repairs. Whatever the “patient”‘ may be, they will find a place to treat it.
Naturally, any doll hospital worth its salt has a ward for vintage dollhouses. These masterpieces are among the most detailed items on the antique market, so they require extra care. After all, the most coveted dollhouses sell in the millions!
But the Hospital doesn’t shy away from more ordinary items. Many teddy bears, often the most loved and run-down personal items, come through to get re-stuffed or to get a torn limb reattached.
Of course, the doll remains the true mainstay of Geoff’s Chapman’s business. No two are alike, so employees always have to stay on their toes. Some parts of the repair process are especially challenging.
According to employee Kerry Stuart, “The thing I like least is eyes. It’s a very difficult balancing act to get them right, so it does take a while. Sometimes I have to do them three times before I’m happy with them.”
Because dolls come in every shape and size imaginable, the shop has to keep a vast array of spare parts in stock. The tinkerers in the back are always linking up different limbs, torsos, and heads. But as much as the workers are like doctors, they are also artists.
They know the details are what really makes a doll precious. Many of their orders are to replace a toy’s hair or touch up its color. Emotionally speaking, these little things really connect a person to their childhood mementos.
Work at the Original Doll Hospital is far from typical, but the employees certainly take great pleasure in it — and so do their customers. At this hospital, everybody leaves smiling, whether the smiles are genuine or just painted on.
Baltimore Sun / Jerry Jackson
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