Custom Sim Daley mandolin finds its way home after 25 years

This article is a contribution from Missy Renee Daley, a delightful story about how the custom mandolin her husband made for her back in 1996 found its way back to her after having been stolen shortly after she received it.

Today I had the best news in my life, but I must start from the beginning. I met my husband to be, Sim Daley in January 1995. We met at a jam session as we are both musicians. I play fiddle and Sim plays banjo. We met in Nashville, TN, but Sim was visiting the music scene with his mother, from England.

We became friends, but I had no idea he liked me as much as he did. Sim and his mother visited for a month, and we played lot of music together at many different venues including SPBGMA, a big bluegrass convention in town. Towards the end of their trip we had a going away party for them. After the party I took Sim and his mother back to the hotel where they were staying. It was a rainy evening and I’m a bit of a huggie person, so I hugged his mom quick and she ran in to the hotel, and then I hugged Sim. That was the spark of relationship. He swung me back in his arms and kissed me. We kissed in the rain for what seemed like forever. I had no clue he liked me in that way. We said our goodbyes and I said I’d pick them up and take them to the airport the next day. And so that was the start of our relationship.

We kept in contact for the following months, long distance, via phone and snail mail. There was no Facebook back then or SKYPE. Sim came back to Nashville a month later to visit again, and we got to know each other more and played much more music together. He stayed with dear friends, Paul and Joan Connor. We had wonderful visits together and it was always sad when he had to fly back home, but he soon was back again.

Little did I know that he was going to propose to me, and that he built me a gorgeous mandolin. He gave me a beautiful white mandolin with my name on the fingerboard for my birthday. It was one he built himself. I couldn’t believe it. I had met a guy that was handsome, talented, and highly skilled, and he built this beautiful instrument for me. I play fiddle yes, but I also play mandolin. I actually played mandolin first, and my father wanted me to switch to fiddle for the band I played in with him, years ago.

A few days after my birthday, Sim proposed. I was the most happiest girl in the world. We planned a wedding for a year to the day that he proposed to me. In the meantime, we bought a house together in Joelton, TN, just outside of Nashville. We were so excited. It was a little house that needed some work, but it was ours. We took possession in January 1996, and worked on it as much as we could when we were not working at our jobs.

We were in the house not quite 5 months when it happened. It was one of the worse days of my life. Someone had broken into our home on May 22, 1996 and stolen everything!! The took the usual, TV’s, VCR, jewelry, money, small appliances, but also stole all our instruments including the mandolin Sim built me, that was the symbol of his love. I was heart broken, devastated. I never thought anything like this would happen to us. Lots of things could be replaced, but not that mandolin.

A year went by, and all the time, I was perusing the paper and calling pawn shops for the instruments. I soon came across one of my fiddles. I couldn’t believe it, but there is was in black and white. I went to the police and met with the guy that was advertising it for sale. He didn’t steal it though. I got it back, and I was over the moon, but still hoped that mandolin would eventually show up. I was starting to think it was thrown in a dumpster because it had my maiden name on it, Renee Radeke. Who would want that, besides me?!

Sim and I have been married now for a while, and more years went by, 6 to be exact when his banjo came back to be worked on. Sim is a luthier and has gone in to business himself repairing and building mandolins and guitars. A gentleman came in with a Gibson bella voce banjo. It was Sim’s. Luckily, banjos, guitars, and mandolins have serial numbers to go by, fiddles and handmade instruments that were gifts, do not. Sim got all the information he could of where this banjos new owner now lived. We called the police and since it has now been 6 years after our break in, there are no records of it anymore. The women that had his banjo was kind though and gave it back. Sim wanted to build her a banjo to replace it, but she didn’t want anything for it. So happy that we now have 2 items back. The fiddle and banjo. It gave me hope that maybe my mandolin might still be around.

Many more years went by, 21 years now, and Sim and I decide to move to his home town in Looe, Cornwall, UK. He’s been missing home for so many years now, and I said yes, let’s do it. It took a while to sell our home that was now in Goodlettsville, TN, but we eventually did. We had to sell so much stuff it was like we were starting over yet again from when we were broken into.

I have been in Looe now for a little over 3 years, and one day I got a message on Facebook. It was from a guy named Trent Logsdon. I didn’t know him from Adam, and I was a little leary of opening the message, due to hackers. I could read a little bit of the message and seen that he was “sorry to bother me,” but….. I opened it. I read the message and was shocked.

He was asking if I was Renee Radeke, and that he found a mandolin in a pawn shop with my name on it. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I started crying. Could this really be my mandolin after almost 25 years??? I quickly messaged him back and said yes, that’s me! I sent him the only photo I had of it where Sim and I were holding it. We soon were chatting like long time friends. Such a nice guy. Trent was at work and asked his friend Andrew Oller if he could go to the pawn shop and see if it was still there and get it. I’m crying my eyes out that after all these years, it’s still out there, in a pawn shop in Kentucky. Trent and I chatted for a few hours and he popped up and said Andrew bought it. He had it!! OMG!!! Andrew took some photos of it and Trent sent them on to me. It was mine, for sure. A bit worn and dirty, but no mistaking it was mine.

Trent is one of a kind, a young 29 year old who is an honest, caring, hard working guy. He proceeds to tell me that it is mine now and he wants nothing for it. “It was just the right thing to do,” he said. I’m in utter shock, to think that there are still good folks in this world. I had a friend of ours arranged to go and pick it up for me as I’m now in England, and the cost of shipping would be too much.

So my friend Boge Quinn drove up from Tennessee and met with Trent and Andrew and got it. The 3 of them took a photo with it and sent it on to me. I was so happy. Boge, being the kind man he is tried to offer Trent money for it, and he still wouldn’t take one cent from him. I was gonna send a check, but if he wouldn’t take cash, I’m sure he wouldn’t cash a check. I hope someday I can repay him back.

Trent restored my faith in the youth today, in humanity, in goodness in everyone. We are friends for life.

What a truly heartwarming story, and we thank Missy so much for sharing it. Sim Daley is building instruments now in Cornwall, primarily mandolins and guitars. They are of the finest professional quality, and certainly worth a look when considering s new purchase.