Collector hopes thieves will return WWII 'short snorters'

Elisa Hahn reports

You've heard the phrase "money talks." These dollar bills will tell you about history.

They are World War II artifacts with a funny name -- short snorters. A Mill Creek man had half of his collection stolen over the weekend and he's asking the public for help.

The short snorter tradition came from flight crews in World War II, who signed bank notes on overseas missions to bring good luck. They carried the keepsakes with them throughout the war.

"They'd have a roll of them in their pocket and they'd pull it out," said collector Tom Sparks. "Because you had two minutes from the time someone asked you about your short snorter, to produce it."

Failure to produce one means you're buying the drink.

"It was a short snort, because a lot of alcohol in aviation don't mix," Sparks said.

Presidents Eisenhower and Truman, and Eleanor Roosevelt signed them for soldiers. So did celebrities like Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, and Gene Kelly.

"Shirley Temple would also set up a table but she was giving out kisses," Sparks said.

Sparks collects the artifacts, displaying them on panels. He travels around to give presentations for museums, conventions, even nursing homes.

"I think it's a connection with the past. And the whole thing about the greatest generation and what they went through. We survived," he said.

Last weekend, he had ten panels in his car, and stopped at an Arby's in Centralia. When he came back, only 5 panels were left.

Those had the best pieces in his collection. Those connections to the past, severed.

"I just hope they don't destroy them. They won't be able to sell them because they're unique and no one is going to touch them," Sparks said.

Sparks hopes someone will find and return. His is asking anyone with information to email him at tjsparks@shortsnorter.org.

He'd even be willing to throw good money after bad.

"I'd even pay a reward to tell you the truth, but I hope it doesn't come to that," Sparks said.


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