The Case of the OSU Cane

I sat by Mary at my nephew’s graduation party. She had brought her mother-in-law Betty; Betty had been a neighbor to my nephews since they were born. She drives some, but the kids and in-laws and grandkids go with her when they can. She’s 91, and everybody just feels better if there’s someone with her. Except Betty. She hates being babysat. And she gets around fine; just ask her. All she needs is her cane.

“She lost her cane awhile ago,” Mary said. “Did you hear about that?”

I hadn’t.

“She couldn’t find it anywhere. And it’s her Ohio State cane. She called and told me to look everywhere in the house; it was probably in there.” It wasn’t. Mary was sure. First, she was sure Betty hadn’t brought it in the last time she’d been there, since they’d walked her in from the car and then back out. Second, Mary had just cleaned the entire house, and had not found a cane.


This is not like me cleaning my house and maybe not finding the book the kids shoved behind the couch. If Mary cleaned the house and she said there is no cane, I swear to you a crime scene crew could not find a cane in that house. Betty, though, was pretty sure. She wanted Mary to keep an eye out.

Betty called back a few hours later. “It’s not in your house,” she said, and Mary mouthed yes I know at the phone while she listened to hear more. “I went to Buchwalter’s the other day and …”

“Why didn’t you take someone with you?” Mary said. “You know we’re happy to go. We could have helped with the plants!”

“ … I went to Buchwalter’s,” Betty rolled on, “and there was a van there that looked just like mine. I think when I came back out and threw the cane in the back, I opened up the wrong van door, so it’s in the back of somebody’s van.”

Mary let out a breath. That was fine. They’d just get a new one. They were in the heart of Ohio, nearly OSU-fanatic central. No problem.

“So we’re going to have to find out who it is,” said Betty.

She would not be deterred from her cause. Mary, hardly believing what she was doing, posted on her Facebook page. Was anyone driving a red Chevy Venture van in the area of Buchwalter Green house the previous Thursday? Had they found an Ohio State cane in the back seat?

No one was. No one had. Everyone had questions, though. Mary explained, and hilarity ensued. No cane, though.

Betty called a few days later, spitting mad. “They won’t even put it on the air for a minute!” she said.

“I … what, Mom?” Mary said. “Who won’t put what on the air?”

Betty had called the local country music station, the one everybody listens to for school closings, and asked them to put out an APB on her cane. They wouldn’t, not even for a 91-year-old woman. Not even for Betty. She was furious. Weren’t they there as a public service? They could call out school closings, but they wouldn’t bother to help her find her cane.

Mary closed her eyes. This had gotten out of hand. She didn’t know how to fix it, though. Unbelievably, the OSU cane could not be replaced. She’d even put her children on the task, scouring the internet. The cane had been discontinued, and there were none to be had. They had offered to get a plain gray one and find stickers, but Betty was not buying. It was her ride-or-die cane, and she was getting it back. Mary took in a breath, trying to think of something to say.

“I guess they said they might put it on Facebook, though,” Betty said. “Whatever good that’ll do.”

As soon as she hung up the phone, Mary searched Facebook for the station’s call sign. There it was. Help a 91-year-old Wayne County resident find her cane! All the pertinent information. Mary shook her head, but she was laughing aloud.

A day later, she was driving Betty to the CVS in Wooster to pick up her cane. An employee had seen the radio station’s post and recognized the cane in the store’s lost and found. The employee was pleased to present the cane to Betty when she came in. Betty was pleased to receive it, though unsurprised. It was, after all, only what she was due. Mary was torn between happy disbelief and wild laughter. There’s no word on what the driver of Betty’s van’s twin thinks, or whether they saw the Facebook post.

And so it was a story with a happy ending, though Betty wasn’t without her complaints. “What,” said Mary on the ride home, “could you possibly be upset about?”

“Did they have to post that like that?” Betty said. “Now everyone in the county knows I’m 91 years old!”

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