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Buried Treasure in a Bookshelf

Posted on February 08, 2012

By Bob Spoerl, for

Rogers Park handyman Michael Cain (no, not Michael Caine, the famous English actor) has helped renovate plenty of homes and fixed plenty of broken items in his nearly 25 years owning and operating “Mike’s Home Repair” on Chicago’s North Side. While every project is unique, one of his recent repairs sticks out like a diamond in the rough.

“Nothing like this has ever happened,” Cain said, referring to what he found on-site several weeks ago.

Cain and his crew were tearing down a bookcase in an old Rogers Park coach house. What happened next would have titillated your inner pawnbroker: six pistols, assorted jewelry and collectable coins were found stashed away inside the decaying book storage unit. It’s one of those eerie, exciting happenings when you don’t know if it’s appropriate to jump for joy or call the cops.

“He was a real nice guy, a very handy guy,” Cain said of the person who once lived there before the remodel. “I wouldn’t be surprised if those were his and who knows why he had them stashed like that.”

Those items stashed were collectable jewelry and an assortment of pistols buried in a bookcase in the Rogers Park coach house. The discovery of the collectables led to finder’s fee for Cain and the crew – a friend who collects antiques paid $1,800 for the goods.

While finding guns in a bookshelf is just plain strange, this isn’t the first interesting story Cain has under his belt. Four years ago, a neighborhood friend invited him over to her home to meet an up-and-coming Illinois politician. Cain said he wasn’t interested; he just didn’t want to see another politician at the time.

It wasn’t Dick Durbin. It wasn’t Rahm Emanuel. It wasn’t Joe Moore.

(I’ll give you a hint – he’s the current president).

Cain chuckles, shrugs off the opportunity to sit down and converse with now-President Barack Obama.  It doesn’t seem to faze him much.

The handyman takes it all in stride. He’s got a business that keeps him content. The most enduring part of what he does is the connections he makes every day.

“It’s a relationship of trust I have with my customers,” Cain said. “We appreciate, and depend on each other.”

A bit about Mike’s Home Repair business:

*He specializes in handyman work – accomplishing a bunch of small but necessary tasks, the type of work average Joe’s and Jill’s may not know how to do. In Cain’s own words, he saves customers the hassle of “calling a bunch of contractors.”

*Mike’s business is expanding. He has several current employees and envisions brining on more as he builds a client base and the economy continues to improve.

*His brother is designing a website for him at will let you know when it’s up and running. In the meantime, if there’s some issue in the home that begs for a helping handy hand, call Michael Cain at 773-203-5717 for an estimate.

* Bob Spoerl is a young journalist residing in Rogers Park. He attends the Medill school of Journalism and interned for the WTTW news hour ‘Chicago Tonight.’ Before Medill, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy from Loyola, where he developed an affection for Rogers Park. Read his contributions at

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