Monday, June 29, 2015

A Mystery Floating in the Water

Have you ever seen an intriguing object bobbing along in the water? Robert Townley, a web developer who lives in Washington, DC, was recently walking along the Georgetown waterfront when he saw a booklet of some kind floating in the water. He took the photo you see above and then borrowed a net from a nearby fisherman to retrieve the book.

It turned out to be a photo album, and it apparently documented the first week of a baby's life. Obviously, the photos are now water-damaged, but many of them are still heart-tuggers:

There's a much more detailed version of this story, along with more photos, on Townley's website.

Townley is now wondering, just as you probably are, "Who are these people, and how did their baby album end up in the Georgetown Canal?" He's set up a Facebook group to help investigate the album's backstory and, ideally, return it to its rightful owners. Feel free to join the group and contribute to the sleuthing!

(Big thanks to Mike Engle for letting me know about this one.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Message in a Bottle, Scottish Edition

The bottle shown above were recently found on a beach in Aberdeenshire, Scotland by a couple vacationing from Australia. They noticed a note inside, which indicated that the bottle had been tossed into the sea in 1971 by a 14-year-old boy named Raymond Davidson, who lived in Carlisle — 44 miles from where the bottle turned up.

The Australian couple posted a notice on Facebook, asking for help in tracking down Davidson. The good news is that their efforts were successful and they've now been in touch with him; the bad news is that Davidson has zero memory of having written the note or having tossed the bottle into the sea, which is a little disappointing.

Further details here.

(My thanks to reader David Sonny for letting me know about this one.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Hidden Trolley Lurking Within Old Building

We've often talked about find artifacts inside of an old house. Today's story puts a new spin on that concept.

Bill and Sharon Krapil bought some property last year in Weyauwega, Wisconsin. The lot included an old building that they planned to knock down. But as they began that process, it turned out that the building, as you can see above, had been built around a 1905 trolley, which served as the core of the structure.

There are lots of additional photos here (with a mildly annoying click-thru interface, sorry) and additional info here, along with a good video report below:

(Big thanks to reader/pal Jeff Ash for letting me know about this one.)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Classroom Discoveries

Permanent Record got its start with a set of old vocational school report cards. Now I've gotten involved with another set of school-related artifacts.

The photos you see above are from the Instagram feed of Miriam Sicherman, a fourth grade teacher at the Children’s Workshop School in New York City. The artifacts shown in the photos — old coins, 1940s candy wrappers, tickets stubs from a theater that used to be next door to the school, a 1920s baseball card, a 1940s student assignment, and a lot more — were all excavated by her students from a gap in the floorboards of her classroom's closet. One of the students, a 10-year-old named Bobby Scotto, noticed that gap a few months ago, reached in, and began pulling out interesting finds. Soon the whole class was joining in, and Sicherman turned it into a way for the kids to learn about archaeology.

It's a great story, and I had fun writing about it in a recent New York Times article. Check it out here.

Meanwhile, as long as we're talking about schools: There was a great find a few days ago in Oklahoma City, where contractors renovating a high school removed some chalkboards from a classroom wall and found an older blackboard with lessons that had been written in 1917 and were still perfectly legible and intact, including this Thanksgiving scene:

Here's a video with further details (if the video isn't embedding properly, and/or if you want additional info, look here):

(Big thanks to reader Paul Deaver for letting me know about the Oklahoma City story.)