Stolen wheelbarrow belonging to late homeless Vietnam veteran returned

Published: Monday, May 27, 2019 @ 1:31 AM

VIDEO: Military Memorials

A wheelbarrow that belonged to a beloved homeless Vietnam veteran who died in December was returned Sunday, several days after it was stolen, the Pioneer Press reported.

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Mike “Bones” Hartzell was a fixture on Rice Street in St. Paul, Minnesota, for many years, the newspaper reported. When the 71-year-old Hartzell died Dec. 2, 2018, friends planned to use his wheelbarrow to build a memorial. 

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Gidget Bailey, who owns the Tin Cup bar, offered a reward on Facebook for the red wheelbarrow’s return. She posted Sunday night that it had been returned anonymously to Dar’s Double Scoop, an ice cream parlor and pizza restaurant on Rice Street, the Pioneer Press reported.

Kevin Barrett, who owns Dar’s, told the newspaper he plans to fill the wheelbarrow with plants and add a plaque with photographs of Hartzell, the newspaper reported. Barnett said he would display the wheelbarrow on the patio of his restaurant.

“It’s one of the last physical things we have of Mike,” Barnett told the Pioneer Press on Saturday.

A wheelbarrow belonging to a Vietnam was stolen last week but was returned Sunday.(Joe Raedle?Getty Images)

After leaving Vietnam, Hartzell decided to live on the streets, WCCO reported. He would meticulously groom the streets as a way to thank those who offered him food, the television station reported. Hartzell would sweep and shovel the sidewalks on Rice Street for his meals, the Pioneer Press reported.

Business owners on Rice Street were protective of Hartzell and bristled when media accounts referred to him as homeless, the newspaper reported. A reader’s comment about a story written after the state legislature honored Hartzell on his 70th birthday in February 2017 was typical.

“The writer missed the point,” the reader told the Pioneer Press.. “Bones isn’t homeless. Rice Street is Bones’ home!”

Now, Hartzell’s wheelbarrow has come home for good.