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Thrift store purchase uncovers UF, Georgia Tech memorabilia from 1920s

West Virginia woman finds treasures, plans to send them back to universities

Kathy Carney says the college memorabilia was inside a purple drum.
Kathy Carney says the college memorabilia was inside a purple drum. (Kathy Carney)

HURRICANE, W.Va. – A thrift store purchase uncovered hidden gems that Gator and Yellow Jacket fans will surely appreciate.

Hats and banners from the late 1920s will soon be making their way back to the University of Florida and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Kathy Carney, who found the treasures, told News4Jax on Tuesday it could be some of the oldest memorabilia to date for the universities. 

During a Skype interview, Carney said that it all started when she and her son went to a thrift store in West Virginia and their eyes set on three storage drums.

"We were looking for something cheap. My son offered $5 each for the drums. The guy said, 'OK,'" she said. 

When they packed everything up, they noticed the purple one had something inside. Carney opened the drum.

"On top -- a man's wool pants," she said. "I knew it was somebody's dirty old clothes that they'd put in there and forgotten."

But there was more. The pants were concealing hidden treasures: pennants, a banner with a UF seal, as well as an old "rat" hat with the student's graduation year, 1933, that they would typically receive their freshman year.

PHOTOS: Old college memorabilia discovered inside storage drum

"Ironton, Ohio -- that's where the kid was from," Carney said. "It says, 'Go Gators.'"

She said her son was excited by the discovery.

"He has so much student debt, he thought, 'Cha-ching,'" Carney said. "And I'm like, 'Ehh.'"

Carney contacted UF's historian and learned the memorabilia was from the late 1920s. She decided to donate it to the university. Also in the drum was a "rat" hat from Georgia Tech. She said that school's historian was less than excited to find out there was a Gator pin on it.

"We're going to take the Gator pin off, or at least they requested we did, and then they would take the hat at Georgia Tech," Carney said.

Carney said she's eager to pack it all up and send the memorabilia from West Virginia to both universities -- hundreds of miles away. 

"I want it out of the house. To me, it's a big responsibility and the drum smells. We've got to do something," she said, laughing. 

According to historians, these will be the oldest hats the universities will have on hand. 

Carney also found a Marine uniform from World War II, and was working to locate the family to which it belongs.