For a few years now, I’ve been torturing visitors to my house with the myriad possibilities that could be contained in a letter that I once found in my house, postmarked August 17th, 1954, which never found its recipient.
While renovating my house on the 1100 block of Foulkrod St, my father and I came across a letter behind the baseboard of a partition wall that we were taking apart to reconnect the first and second floor living spaces.
From the first time I saw it, I considered the letter an artifact of history and the house. And brought it out for visitors to touch and marvel at. And seemly each of those visitors that held it, couldn’t seem to understand why I hadn’t opened it. But for each one who wondered, I dared them to do it. I turned on an inviting smile and tried to coach them into it. But I got no takers. They knew the message wasn’t for them.
For a long time, judging by the individual locks on the bedrooms of my house, and the oral history on the block, it was once a boarding house. And countless people must have travelled through there. It didn’t even cross my mind that I could find the letter’s owner, or heir.
And life went on. And I outgrew the house, or should I say, the 5 bedroom house(and cleaning it) outgrew me. And so this past march, I passed the house onto new owners, a family of three girls, a mother, a father and a baby boy on the way. That massive place was better suited to them, than a bachelor like me.
This letter was never mine. And as I started the process of leaving the scene of its discovery, I started thinking about finding where it really belonged. I was planning on searching for the owner.
I wish I would have written this post before I started searching, so I could fill it with worries about the perils of time and how people and families drift from place to place. And that it was likely I’d never find anyone. I would have liked to have built up my mission into some Homeric epic, where I battled records both paper and digital. But I didn’t count on Facebook, nor that I could search the recipient’s last name, and that they would ended up knowing a girl I went to grade school with.
So the search is over before it began. And I’m passing this letter back to it’s owner.