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Photo by Phil Weston
Ray Fiset, co-chairman of Information and Lost and Found.

August 1, 2009 - Oshkosh, Wisconsin  - EAA AirVenture Oshkosh’s Information and Lost and Found booth is known for returning some interesting and expensive things to their owners.

What’s even more interesting is how the booth itself was started.

Ray Fiset, co-chairman of Information and Lost and Found, was at EAA’s fly-in at Rockford, Illinois in 1963, standing by a break in the snow fence that divided the public area from the flightline. People kept approaching him and asking questions, assuming he was standing there for that purpose.

Rather than move to a different spot, he talked to EAA Founder Paul Poberezny and suggested setting up an information booth. Poberezny came back with a card table and beach umbrella and put him to work.

From then on, Fiset has been volunteering at the booth.

From Quebec, Canada, Fiset drives 20 hours to get to Oshkosh. He hasn’t missed a year at the booth—and he has seen a lot over the years.

“Of everything that’s been found, I’d say 95 percent has been returned,” he said. Most of the rest is just junk, according to him.

While many of the items are of little value to anyone else, they are often priceless to the owner.

“To him, it’s worth more than you could ever imagine,” Fiset said.

“The expression on the faces of the people that get their stuff back is priceless.”

Items returned to the booth range from a bag of 12 pennies brought in by a brother and sister who were about six or seven years old, to a $300,000 diamond-studded watch brought in by a 16-year-old girl.

Though the pennies probably wouldn’t have been missed, the watch—well, that was undoubtedly missed.

Its return shows the honesty of the people who come to AirVenture.

And it’s not always a “thing” that gets turned in; sometimes the “lost” item is of the precious human kind – a child with a missing parent.

Children who’ve been brought to the Lost and Found booth are always well-behaved, according to Fiset. While waiting for their worrying parents to pick them up, he used to give them candy to keep them occupied.

“The little devils got wise to that and would get lost on purpose,” he chuckled.

“Now we keep coloring books.”

One of the strangest things he remembers being returned was the bottom half of a pair of dentures that had been in the box since the year before. When the owner came to claim it he stuck it in his mouth and went on his way, without so much as wiping it off.

The official hours of operation for the booth are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but Fiset keeps the door open much longer if people need help, often from 7:15 a.m. to 11 p.m.

He even sleeps in the little building to avoid the time-consuming process of having security come to log all the items and secure them for the night.

“If anything disappears, I’m responsible,” he said.

The Information and Lost and Found booth is located by the Sky Shoppe. It can be reached at 920-230-7912.

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