Just before Art Jaso moved from Providence, R.I., in 1974, his apartment was broken into. Among the things snatched was his prized 1961 Stratocaster. It was a distinctive electric guitar, with a dragon carved into the body.
Art dreamed regularly about the stolen guitar, which, as he tried to play it, would always disintegrate in his hands.
“One night I dreamed it held together, which to me meant I needed to go back to Providence and look for it,” wrote Art, who now lives in Silver Spring, Md.
So Art returned in his 1951 GMC pickup, visiting the police station and several pawnshops. No luck. As Art gassed up the rather distinctive truck before leaving town, a man came up and asked if Art had lived on College Hill and if he had been robbed recently.
Art answered yes to both questions.
“He then told me he knew who had stolen my stuff,” Art wrote.
Art said all he cared about was the guitar. He was in luck, the man said. The thief still had it.
“I gave him my phone number and he said he’d see what he could do,” Art wrote. “A few days later he called me and said he had the guitar, but the thief wanted $100. I headed back to Providence that day, paid the guy and got my guitar back.”
Of course, it’s possible Art would have retrieved his guitar without dreaming about it, but it was the dream that gave him a little push.
Karen Milanicz of Cumberland, Md., has also experienced productive dreams. There was a time when she was very involved in designing garden beds.
“I would dream about them, in color, and wake up with plant and color combinations I hadn’t consciously considered,” she wrote. What had been implanted in her dreams, she would now plant in the ground.
Lynda McClanahan of Columbus, Ohio, said she was in the middle of a “normal” dream when it was interrupted by a beautiful woman dressed in white who repeated a series of numbers in her ear. When Lynda woke up, she wrote them down.
“I don’t gamble and had never purchased a lottery ticket before, but my boss was a regular player and offered to help,” Lynda wrote.
She gave him $1 to put on the dream numbers and won $400.
Wrote Lynda: “My boss played them, too, but never told me how much he won, which is just as well.”
On the other hand, about 15 years ago, Jennifer Goode Stevens dreamed that numbers were posted on the sign board outside the gas station/diner in the tiny town where she grew up, Elon, Va.
“I wrote them down, and I play them sometimes,” wrote Jennifer, who lives in Clarksville, Tenn. “No winners yet, but it’s as good a ‘strategy’ as any for the lottery.”
A Minneapolis reader named Tamara, who asked that I not include her last name, said a dream helped her realize it was time to end her marriage. She dreamed she and her husband were crossing a street. Halfway to the other side, Tamara saw that a truck was barreling toward them both.
“As I turned back to my husband, I saw him running away,” she wrote.
Tamara can still picture the scene: Her cargo-shorts-clad husband sprinting from the scene, “but him never looking back, or bothering to tap me on the shoulder or call to me to run.”
Tamara woke up mad at her spouse. “And at some point I realized that I was mad because, in the dream, he acted exactly how I would expect him to in real life,” she wrote.
The marriage didn’t last much longer.
On a happier note, there’s an old wives’ tale that if you put a piece of wedding cake under your pillow, you’ll dream about your future spouse.
“Sure, why not?” wrote Kathy Flaxman of Chevy Chase, Md., who heard the superstition from her mother. “For years as a teen and young adult, I would take a piece of cake home from every wedding I attended. I never dreamed about anybody.”
In her third year in graduate school, Kathy attended a friend’s wedding, brought home a small piece of cake and dutifully placed it under her pillow.
That night she had a dream about a fellow student, someone she’d been casually hanging out with for a couple of months. The dream wasn’t romantic and neither was the time the two had been spending together.
“He was not someone that I had any long-term thoughts about,” Kathy wrote. “So then I really thought, ‘Boy, this just doesn’t work at all!’ ”
Except when it does. Kathy and David — her dream subject — just celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.