Man gets family photos back from local business

Jen Knowles, owner of 2nd Chance Antiques in El Dorado, recently learned small acts of kindness can have a big effect in others’ lives.

On occasion people have brought her vintage photos and memorabilia in hopes of exchanging for money. A recent purchase of a box of old photos and albums turned out to be more than a simple transaction.

“A gentleman found the box in the attic of a house he is remodeling in Toronto. He wanted to sell them and put the money toward the house,” Knowles explained. “There were lots of photos and information. I wanted to do my best to find who might want them. I would rather a family member have them than sell them to someone who wouldn’t truly appreciate them.”

She got on Facebook, typed in “McJunkin” – the name found on the photos – and on some papers in the box. A name for someone living in Kansas popped up, she sent a message stating she was trying to find a McJunkin who graduated from Toronto High School in the ’60s. She then received a message from a young man stating she was probably talking about his father. For security reasons, she asked for the grandparents’ names and when they were confirmed, she explained her mission. Eventually she was able to establish communication with Larry McJunkin in Louden, Tennessee.

“I sent the first message around 5 p.m. on a Saturday and by 8 a.m. on Sunday, I was speaking to Larry,” she advised.

McJunkin was thrilled to learn about the box of photos and important family items.

“I had no idea about those items. I never had a lot of memorabilia and not long ago we had a disaster in our basement, and what items I did have were lost. I had no photos of my parents,” he said.

He was excited to learn not only did the box contain hundreds of photos, his baby book and his high school albums, but also love letters that his father wrote to his mother in 1944, during World War II.

Knowles carefully organized the items, placed them in bags and tissue, and shipped them to Tennessee.

“I actually contemplated driving the box to him, because I was nervous about shipping the box. The items were so precious to him, I just didn’t want to take a chance,” she explained.

The box arrived safely and McJunkin has savored going through the family memories.

Knowles refused any payment from McJunkin. Her reward was knowing how happy he was to receive the box.

“I just thought it was the right thing to do,” she said.

The experience left McJunkin emotional.

“These precious treasures she sent me are truly the only tangible memories I have left of my parents and my childhood,” he said. “I was an only child and loved my parents dearly. They both were role models for me, and still are, even at age 67. The world is filled with crime, hate and people who think only of themselves.

“What she did was an incomprehensible act of kindness, and though it’s probably most important to me, I would like her friends and others in her community to know what she has done,” he added. “Because of a Christmas angel, there is a beautiful present under my tree this year.”

Belinda Larsen can be reached at