A subway, a Bible and an unlikely friendship

UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) — It’s nighttime on the D.C. Metro. A young woman rummages through her purse, finds what she’s looking for; the subway slows to a stop and she hurries to get off, and get home after a long day.

A young man boards; perhaps they pass one another, maybe they don’t. Either way he takes a seat, leans back and spots a white pocket Bible beside him.

The young man flips the Bible open as the metro speeds up. He can’t make out a name, figures lost and found won’t be able too, either, so he keeps the Bible, reads it daily for two years and then displays it on his Bible stand for nearly 40 more before finally reuniting the little book with its original owner.

It reads like a Hollywood script, but it isn’t. After 38 years, George Cominos, of Maryland, recently hand-delivered the white pocket Bible to its rightful owner, Linda Brownfield Bradstock, a Uniontown native.

“It was like we had been old childhood friends,” said Cominos, who met Linda and her husband, Jack, on a recent fall afternoon. “It was really a delightful encounter. We spent a couple of hours at her home, just exchanging the story of how we got to this point and how a little Bible connected us.”

How they got to this point is Oscar-worthy. George was 1½ years old when Linda received the pocket Bible.

“I don’t know whether the school of nursing handed out those Bibles to everybody, or whether friends of mine, a relative … I really cannot put my finger on exactly who gave it to me,” said Bradstock, who studied at The Uniontown Hospital School of Nursing in the early ’60s.

“I do recall having it,” she said.

After graduating nursing school and getting married, Linda and her new husband moved from Uniontown to Rockville, Md. That same year – 1966 – Cominos and his family emigrated to the U.S. from Greece.

From across the sea and across the northeast, Cominos and Bradstock moved close enough to run into one another, but decades passed before they met.

“I had just finished my undergraduate degree in the seminary and I was changing career fields into computer science,” recalled Cominos. “I was taking courses in the morning and working an afternoon shift. I usually came back around 10, 11 at night. One day … I found this on the seat next to me. It was a little white Bible with gold gilding around the edges, so I knew it must have been a special memento.”

Cominos said his first thought was, “Oh, my gosh, somebody’s missing this.” He flipped through the Bible, tried to make out a name. He could tell the book had been presented to a woman named Linda, but he couldn’t decipher much more.

Cominos didn’t think lost and found could do more than he – the owner might be a tourist, impossible to track down in the big city – so he kept the little book.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I’m meant to be looking at this very, very special memento.’ I knew it had to be more than coincidence. It was appropriate for me: I was in-between career fields and had some doubts. I was looking for direction. It kept me company for a while.”

For two years Cominos read the little white Bible on his metro commute. He’d say a little prayer for Linda before diving into the text – “It helped me appreciate the King James version a lot more,” said Cominos, continuing to wonder to whom the book belonged.

Meanwhile, Bradstock was busy working as a nurse at a hospital in Silver Spring, Md., and raising a family – she has four kids, all grown now.

“I suppose I maybe didn’t miss it right away,” she said. “I must have thought I misplaced it. ‘It’s probably somewhere in the house.’ By that time, I had several children. It could’ve been anywhere,” she said.

In 1987, while the Bradstocks enjoyed domestic life, Cominos joined the Navy. He left the Bible behind, but when he returned to Maryland as a civilian government employee, he found a prominent spot on his Bible shelf for the white book.

One day, Cominos flipped the Bible open to the dedication page. The name inscribed, Linda Brownfield, and address listed became clear to him. He jumped online.

“I played around with the name a couple times. I narrowed it down. It was a P.O. box, it said ‘Uniontown.’ I saw there was a Uniontown, Pennsylvania,” said Cominos. “I tried looking up Linda Brownfield and the searches weren’t helping me much.”

Cominos didn’t think there was a relation between the few Brownfields his searches yielded. And besides, he thought, “Brownfield” was probably a maiden name.

Then, he said, “The page of the Uniontown Herald (Standard) came up. It was like a lightbulb: These guys are reporters; they can do a little investigative reporting.”

Cominos had recently seen a local news story about people reconnecting through the internet and social media years after losing touch.

“That sort of inspired me,” he said. “We’re all interconnected.”

Cominos emailed the Herald-Standard. Editor Jennifer Garofalo – “surprisingly, and maybe more than coincidentally” – replied, he said. She had distant connections to the last name “Brownfield.”

“She said, ‘I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hopefully I’ll let you know if we got a positive ID,’” Cominos explained. “A few days later she said yes, she was able to make the connection.”

Shortly after Garofalo passed along his contact information, Cominos answered the phone and a woman’s voice said, “I think you found something that belongs to me.”

Bradstock described the Bible accurately and when Cominos offered to the mail the book back, he was surprised to learn she lived nearby.

“I thought she was in Pennsylvania,” he laughed. “She said, ‘No, we live in Maryland.’ I said, ‘That’s less than 20 minutes.’ We’ve probably seen each other in the supermarket.”

The pair arranged to meet.

“And we met Sunday … Oct 24,” Cominos said. “We met in the fall of ’21. I found it in the fall of ‘83. That’s 38 years, a couple wars and several presidents later.”

It won’t be that long until the pair, brought together by a little white Bible, meet again for a couple’s get-together that will include Linda’s husband, Jack, and George’s wife.

“He’s just such a nice guy,” said Bradstock, who added she and her husband, Jack, are looking forward to meeting Cominos’ wife, who couldn’t make the Bible reunion.

“I feel blessed and honored to have met them. They’re such wonderful people. I think we would be missing out if we don’t continue contact with them,” said Cominos.

Bradstock still can’t figure out why her Bible went missing that evening so many years ago.

“It’s a little bit of a mystery that’s where he found it. I can’t think why in the world I had it with me,” she said. “Maybe I just carried it with me like he did, for comfort.”

The comfort of that book helped carry Cominos through his young adulthood.

“It is a beautiful story. It’s a personal story. It’s one that means a lot to me. We’ve got a lot of Bibles, but that one held a special place for me.; it was my special companion. This is a very special Bible, but it doesn’t belong to me. I’m glad that it’s gone back to where it needs to be,” he said.

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Online:

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