Old hope chest holds a surprise

A couple find some potentially explosive souvenirs while fixing up their closet.

Published July 21, 2007

PALM HARBOR - When Bill and Mardy Adams set out to fix up the closet in their spare bedroom, they never imagined it would bring a bomb squad to their door.

Or that they'd be evacuated for almost five hours while officials disposed of potentially dangerous World War II military explosives.

But that's what happened to the couple Thursday after Mardy Adams found a 6-inch mortar shell and a foreign-made hand grenade in her parents' old hope chest.

"They were definitely both live," said Bill Adams, 60. "One still had the firing pin in it."

The couple, who recently moved from Pennsylvania, believe the explosives were souvenirs from Mardy's parents, who were both World War II veterans. John McKenna was in the U.S. Army. His wife, Ruth, served in the U.S. Marines. Both died about two years ago.

Pinellas sheriff's deputies arrived at the Adams home, 795 County Road 1, about 2 p.m. and evacuated the family and a neighbor's house.

Deputies summoned Hillsborough County's bomb squad, which arrived about 3:30 p.m. Officials from MacDill Air Force Base then were summoned and removed the devices within minutes. The family was allowed to return to the home shortly after 6 p.m.

"They didn't know what it was. That's the scary part," Bill Adams said. "It was in this house 20 years."