• John Jantak

Hudson resident appeals for return of cobbler’s tray


Though not the cobbler’s tray belonging to Jean Thompson, this model is similar to the one that was mistakenly sold during her October 20 garage sale in Hudson.

A distraught Hudson resident is hoping to retrieve a unique 100-year-old family heirloom that was mistakenly sold at a garage sale the weekend of October 20.

Jean Thompson said she’s absolutely devastated that the cobbler’s tray used by her grandfather to make shoes is no longer a part of her life, she told The Journal during a telephone interview on October 27. The tray was never meant to be sold nor was it on display. “I’m so heartbroken. I’ve been in tears for two days,” said Thompson.

Sold by accident

She only realized the tray was missing when she went into the third car garage on her property to look for something after the sale. “When I opened it up, I didn’t think anything about it but I had some things on my workbench. One of them was the cobbler’s tray that’s used by shoemakers,” Thompson said.

After realizing it was missing, Thompson found out her husband accidentally sold it for five dollars. “I’ve had it on my work bench for 45 years. I asked him, ‘Why would you ever sell it?’ He said he didn’t know what it was,” she said.

Thompson said the unintended transaction occurred because she left the garage door open to let people warm up from the cold weather outside the day of the garage sale. “Nobody would have seen if I hadn’t done that,” she said.

Sentimental significance

She’s hopeful the person who bought the tray will consider returning it if they learn about its sentimental importance to her. “When I was a little girl, I would go and play with my grandfather who made shoes for crippled people,” said Thompson.

“My Italian grandparents came over here with no education at all. They worked at cutting keys and sharpening skates. That’s the way I grew up. I grew up with that little tray. I would go into where he was making shoes and I would sit and play with all the little nails and all that when I was six, seven, eight,” she said.

Items stolen

The accidental sale of the cobbler’s tray was hard enough but thieves apparently also made off with two Dresden figurines during the garage sale, said Thompson. “They were way up on a shelf. I wrote on a piece of masking tape, ‘Please do not touch,’ because the lace is very, very delicate. I wandered around and I looked up and saw they were gone,” she said.

“I don’t know how they reached way, way up to get them, but they’re gone. I had to stand on a ladder. The figurines were probably about 100 years old,” Thompson added.

Professional thieves

This isn’t the first time items have been stolen from one of Thompson’s garage sales. An Excalibur sword and sheath were pilfered last year. “I’m a woodworker so I had it with a bunch of my tools on the table. There were about four or five of us here. I looked over and asked, ‘Where’s the Excalibur?’” she said.

“I want to give people who are having a garage sale a head’s up. These people are professional. They come in two or three at different times,” Thompson said. “They meander around and distract the person that’s selling. And they pick on old people.”

Anyone who may have an idea as to the whereabouts of the cobbler’s tray is asked to call Jean Thompson at (450) 458-7535.

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