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Associated Press
Town officials Anne Clark and Tony Mincu look through the town safe in Milton, N.H. The combination had been lost for decades.

Small town cracks long-locked safe

– Milton is a small New Hampshire town that knows how to safeguard its secrets – namely by losing the combination to one very large safe.

No one’s quite sure when the safe was last opened, but the town’s administrator and selectmen were determined to end the mystery of its contents.

So they hired a safecracker, Seacoast Lock and Safe owner Paul Letourneau. Letourneau says it took him three hours Thursday to drill through and reset the combination of the safe.

“On a scale of 1-10, it was probably a seven,” Letourneau said.

The safe was immediately closed and relocked so its contents could be unveiled and inventoried publicly Saturday morning.

Administrator Tony Mincu says he could see that the safe was chock-full but resisted the temptation to rifle its contents.

“I didn’t want to ruin it for myself or anybody else, but it was tempting,” Mincu said Friday.

The mystery of the safe’s contents has been the source of much speculation. The town’s Boston Post Cane – a gold-tipped cane from The Boston Post newspaper given each year to the town’s oldest resident – has been missing for decades.

“It might be in there,” mused Selectman Tom Gray. “There’s talk around town that it’s in there.”

When about a dozen local officials and residents gathered Saturday and the safe was finally opened, there was no Boston Post Cane, but a host of historical records were found: mortgage records dating back to 1858, when some properties sold for less than $100; old town meeting minutes; records of local soldiers sent to fight in World War I; papers in which “intentions of marriage” were recorded.

Gray was hoping to find a pot of gold to underwrite the new fire station the town covets.

There was no pot of gold; instead on the financial front, there was a 1959 budget ledger showing town spending that year at $205,000. It’s $3.2 million now.