Old houses are mysterious places, filled with stories and history and artifacts and memories of all the residents who have ever called that house a home. Sometimes those mysteries are in plain sight, easy to see, easy to decipher. Other times houses hide their history under layers of paint and wallpaper, or inside walls, or under floors, only to be discovered when renovations are in full swing.
We’ve all surely read stories of homeowners finding jewels or money hidden under floors or in spider-web covered attics. People find household items and tools that were accidentally dropped inside unreachable crevices during building or renovation. Occasionally lucky homeowners discover old photographs and letters that were intentionally left inside a wall by previous residents who knew that someday someone would be tearing into that wall as their family grew.
We have done our share of renovations at Brown Road, but so far have not found a hefty bundle of cash inside any walls. Our contractor did pull a small, seemingly handmade hammer out of the inside of a wall during one stage of our construction and we found a picture of two young girls that appeared to be from the late 60’s or early 70’s. More recently we began updating my son’s bedroom. Under layers of carpet and linoleum type flooring, we discovered a section of the floor that had been insulated with layers of newspaper. We had known it was there from pulling up corners of the carpeting years ago to see what the wood floors looked like, but it was only now that we finally began to update this particular room.
These newspapers were Chicago Tribunes, from various dates in 1949. They were in amazingly good condition, preserved under layers of flooring and there were probably at least one hundred pages to look through. There were so many fascinating things to share, but in the interest of brevity, I picked just a few interesting items and photographed them to share below.
From the sports page… YES, that would be the BROOKLYN Dodgers.
In entertainment… Danny Thomas at the Chez-Paree.
and Al Jolson singing in “black-face” would be frowned upon today.
Before the bailouts, when Detroit was KING!
Back from the war? You can own one of these town houses for only $190 down!
For you ladies, here’s some fancy Gabardine suits for only $39.95!
and for Mom and Dad, keep your baby Dry and Comfy.
I could have gone on and on, there were so many interesting and unique articles and photographs and advertisements.
So, I won’t encourage you to go tear up some old flooring or punch some holes in your walls. But, you never know what might be hiding inside your house!
22 responses to “What’s in the News?”
What a wonderful treasure to find! You have a wealth of topics for future blog posts!
It was pretty neat to discover these. Things like this make you want to tear all the wall out. Not very realistic though!!
I LOVE this! How cool to find all of these! The Victorian house I grew up in in upstate New York is over 150 years old (I’ve mentioned it in a comment to you before) and has a carriage house behind it that holds things that were there before my parents moved in, 45 years ago. They left most of it in place as they added their own collection of antiques. Aside from being terrified to be on the 3rd floor by myself, I remember being fascinated by the chicken egg chart still hanging on the old wooden door. There are also pictures of people who used to inhabit the house 100 years ago that would mysteriously fall from in between pages of books. One picture in particular was of a woman in front of a stained glass window in our living room. My Father had recently moved the window to another room, and It was evidently very important to her that it was returned to it’s original location!
Hi Emily, yes I remember you describing where you grew up. I love old homes like that. We’re happy where we are, but it would be nice to be able to live in all of the great old houses around. The story about the pictures falling out of the books is creepy, but of course I do love a good ghost story!
That’s so cool! Makes me want to track down that house for $9990 and see what it costs today.
Would be interesting to know what they cost. In Chicago… I can only imagine!!
Typical of country folk to find a second use for everything. Newspaper and cardboard do make excellent insulation, but is poo-pooped by experts because it’s not laced with chemicals and fire retardant. It’s also good in the garden mulch pile and great for cleaning windows. But hold on, have you contacted the newspaper or a museum? Could be some money in it for you yet.
You are right about re-using stuff. Not just country folk, but everyone back then. I hadn’t thought about contacting anyone, I kind of want to hang on to them for posterity sake, maybe frame a few of the really neat advertisements or photos.
Wow! What a great find!
I loved the young Danny Thomas…what a time machine an old newspaper can be. Those suits for women are just so stylin’! – I’d still be wearing those today, if I could find them… my parents paid roughly $9,000 for their home, in about 1953, but a full-on house, with basement and all.
As a child, I wrote ‘books’. When it became evident my refridgerator artworks were disappearing into a trashcan somewhere, I began hiding things in the walls of my bedroom, including my first ‘book’, written in 2nd grade, and some favorite toys tossed into a dark black abyss, a hole in the closet wall before it was panelled over. Always considered that my Al Capone vault.
Looking forward to more posts from your awesome discovery!
What a great story about hiding your stuff in your walls. When we were working on a major renovation five or six years ago we put some stuff inside the wall of one of the rooms when it was only framing, a photo of us and some a newspaper with the date on it, I think. Someday someone will dig that stuff out and blog about it!
Fascinating stuff. What a cool thing to find! I never get tired of looking through old newspapers or magazines. The ads are what really get me. I’ll take a few dozen of those houses please…and to think I complained about today’s diapers!
I like the ads too, especially to see what things cost back then. There were tons of ads for booze, apparently there was a lot of drinking going on then! Of course, I don’t think those companies are allowed to advertise in the newspapers anymore.
That’s awesome.. My dad would love that…he buys stuff from yard & estate sales to sell on Ebay. Hell, he keeps trying to get me to take him inside those old buildings that I took pictures of on my photography blog.
Ha! I still think you should go in those buildings too. Just don’t get shot!
I love shite like that. In the old Plantation house and nearby slave quarters I used to play in as a kid (in the middle of NOWHERE–it had been abandoned I suppose since about the Civil War), anything “worth” anything had long been taken away but the hand-painted wallpaper on inner walls was still there (outer walls had even been torn off to reuse lumber over the years) and you can see where they insulated the slave quarters with corncobs and husks–whatever the poor people could find. Sad. Yet interesting to compare the two.
That’s cool that you had that experience as a kid. I love this stuff too. Interesting that whoever put those papers there was reading Chicago papers rather than something local.
What a cool find. Once we explored an abandoned house in the middle of a field and found an old travel trunk full of a sailor’s old time uniforms, like original pea coats and the button flap thick wool dark blue trousers they wore. Lots of other clothing, too, and all in great condition especially since they’d obviously been there for a very long time! I love ghost stories as well, so much so I wrote about two in my novel.
Great stuff. I don’t know how often I’ve driven past an old abandoned house and wanted to go inside, but never have the nerve to do it.
oooooh. nice! That is a treasure! I love old newspapers and magazines. Just bought one myself, this weekend. It’s the January 22, 1981 copy of Rolling Stone – the month after John Lennon was murdered, and with the iconic cover of John curled naked around a fulled clothed Yoko. I’ve barely opened it – it seems so fragile! But it’s filled with stories and memories and photos…all about John. $20 at an antique swap! Now to decide, do I give it to my musician son – or keep it for myself? LOL
Great article and I love the old ads!
Wow, I’m surprised someone let that magazine get away.
Old stuff, no matter where you find it, is always SO interesting!
Fun post, Steve! I love old houses…