Margie Clark held the shriveled orange in her hand and looked at it with a mixture of sentiment and wonder.

"It's almost unbelievable," she said.

Clark is a believer though. She said the shrunken, rock-hard, nearly petrified piece of fruit - which is no longer orange in color - has been in her family for 83 years.

She even remembers playing with it when she was a little girl.

Clark's heard the story of the orange's origins dozens of times. It's been passed down through the years like an heirloom and came into the family before she was born.

"In 1921, on Christmas Eve, the family had gathered together to celebrate," Clark recalled. "My dad's sister handed him this orange."

Wanting to save the orange to eat later, her father took it into his room and placed it in a dresser drawer, Clark said.

He must have forgotten about it, though, because when he remembered it, it had already passed the edible stage.

"The next time he saw it, the orange had started to get really hard, like a rock," Clark said.

Perhaps because it had been a gift from his sister, he decided to keep it.

"Back then, everybody had a trunk" where they kept things, Clark said.

Her father decided to keep the hardened orange and placed it in his trunk, Clark said.

That's where Clark first found it, during her childhood.

"When I got big enough to get in the trunk, I would get the orange and play with it," she recalled. "I'd roll it around and talk about how old it was."

Clark, who said she's nearly 80 now, had no idea then just how long the hardened piece of fruit would endure. When her father died, the orange came to her. She plans to pass it along to her children someday.

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