While Barbara Haynes, of Glenn Heights, Texas, was walking around her neighborhood in the days after a tornado ravaged her town, she noticed a box underneath a tree that grabbed her attention.
The large brown box had a wedding dress preservation box inside of it that was protecting a pink, vintage lace wedding dress. Now, four months after the Dec. 26 storm hit, Haynes is still desperately trying to find the owner of this gown.
“If you saw the destruction, it was just a mess,” Haynes, 64, told ABC News of the tornado’s aftermath. “I found the dress December 28. A neighbor and I were walking. We live in a cul-de-sac. The box was just lying there and I turned it over and it said, ‘wedding dress.’ I said, ‘Oh my God. I need to find who this belongs to.’”
Haynes, who lost 80 percent of her own home in the storm, took the dress with her to keep it safely stored in the trunk of her car while she temporarily lived in a hotel for months while her home was being re-built.
“I didn’t open it until about two or three week ago and I see this wedding gown that was pink that looks like as made in the '30s or '40s,” she explained after finally deciding to take the gown out of the box to see more detail. “It’s hand-stitched and laced up, with a big bow on the back with a rose in the center. On both of the puffy sleeves there’s a rose in the middle. It’s laced up to the neck, with about 50 buttons down the back."
“It reminds me of something from ‘Gunsmoke,’” she added. “I just became so attached. I know how important my daughter’s wedding dress was to her and I just know this has been passed down through generations and I’m not going to give up until I get this back to the rightful owner.”
Haynes’ daughter posted information about the gown all over social media. Haynes even tried contacting a phone number she found that was tied to the address she could barely make out on the return label of the brown box, to no avail.
“We tried everything and didn’t have any luck,” she said. “But for some reason I’m determined to get this back. I should be unpacking boxes and instead I’m working on this dress. I would be so happy to give it back to the owner. I would feel like I did something good, like something good came from this tornado.”
Haynes just moved back into her own home about three weeks ago and is now focusing her efforts on the gown more than ever.
“The address and the name were on the return label on the box,” she explained, although they had been smeared by water and were difficult to read. “I pulled the label off and I tried to get a phone number but it wasn’t a working phone number anymore. So I’m just at a loss.”
The name on the return address was listed as M. Mooring from the ZIP code 76201. At first, Haynes thought the label read “Dennis, Texas,” but the ZIP code is actually for Denton, Texas.
“Denton would make sense,” she said of the town about an hour north of her. “They were affected by the storm and the winds were about 80 miles per hour and coming from that direction.”
Anyone with information about the wedding gown’s owner can contact Haynes at Barbara_N_Haynes@yahoo.com.
“I would be so happy to see the person’s face,” she said of hopefully getting it returned. “I want to get it to them and see them look at this dress, just to see what they feel. I know it means so much to someone.”