From childhood on, Nathan Stein always dreamed about becoming a doctor. But only one year into college, the Depression imposed its stark reality upon his family, as it did upon countless other millions. Forced to quit school and get a job to help support his parents and siblings, Nathan saw his dreams slowly dwindle away. Maybe one day a child of mine, or at least a child of that child, will be able to become the doctor I never could be, he sighed.
Decades later, Nathan began to pin his hopes on his grandson, Kevin Ladin, with whom he had an especially warm relationship. "Kevin," he used to repeat over and over again, "I hope you'll become the doctor I always wanted to be." Sadly, Nathan died when Kevin was only 9 years old. But the dream he had so passionately implanted in Kevin lived on.
For Kevin, like his grandfather, had committed himself at a young age to pursuing the goal of becoming a physician to heal the sick. But where to find the money for medical school?
When Kevin, 23, was a senior at Pennsylvania State University, he began to apply to various medical schools with a high level of anxiety. How would he pay the first year's tuition of $15,000? His parents both worked as real estate brokers, and they stepped up their efforts to bring in more business.
One day his father, Sherman Ladin, noticed an ad in a local paper placed by a home owner trying to sell his own residence.
"Normally, I don't call people who advertise on their own," Sherman told The Philadelphia Inquirer. But suddenly, he was seized by an uncontrollable urge to call the number, an urge he couldn't quite explain. It was uncharacteristic of him to pursue business in this manner.
The owners weren't very receptive to his "cold call," either. They wanted to sell the house themselves and forego a broker's commission. They told Sherman they would wait several days to see what kind of response they got to their ad. If they couldn't sell their house on their own, they'd eventually call him back--they promised.
And they did.
The owners arranged for Sherman to come see the house on a Tuesday. The appointment was formally set, and Sherman penciled it into his calendar. But when he told his wife, she reminded him they had a trip planned for that day. So he called back, and the appointment was rescheduled for Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. "Three o'clock it is, then!" he confirmed. But later that day, the homeowners called him and said that now they had to change the time. The third--and final--appointment was set for Monday morning at 11.
When Sherman approached the house, he experienced a minor shock. "I realized that this was the same house my in-laws had lived in 15 years before, and it was a very strange feeling," he recalled.
As Sidney and Dina Toporov, the current owners, ushered him into the living room, he began to tell them about the strange coincidence. But he barely had a chance to say a few words when the doorbell rang.
"No, I'm sorry, there's been some mistake," he heard the Toporovs tell the mail carrier at the door, who was holding a certified letter in his hand. "There's no one here by that name. We've never heard of a Nathan Stein."
Sherman Ladin jumped up from his chair. "That was my father-in-law!" he exclaimed.
Telling the mail carrier that his father-in-law was dead 14 years, he offered to sign for the registered letter, which happened to be from a bank.
It was a notice about a dormant account that had never been claimed. A dormant account of Nathan Stein's that no one--not his wife nor his daughter nor his son-in-law--knew anything about. An account that would be forfeited to the state if it was not claimed soon. An account that contained $15,000!
"I was put in that house at precisely that time to make sure Kevin would get the money for his first year's medical tuition," Sherman Ladin says.
And Nathan Stein's dream is coming true.