I watched a commercial on television recently that was about people enjoying surprises. I’m one of those who loves a good surprise, and mysteries generally hold plenty of them, although not always good ones.
For the purposes of this week’s blog, I’m going to talk about clues, or what could be considered clues.
I’ve mentioned a few times in recent blogs that my house is for sale. Being the positive thinker that I (sometimes) am, I’ve started packing already. When the house finally sells, I’ll be ready to go.
It’s been interesting. There are a number of boxes that have been stored rather than unpacked. Now I’m having to go through the boxes to sort and throw out or repack. I’ve always been a “saver”, and there are plenty of things I’d forgotten I had. I’ll open a box and think, Wow! I forgot I had this. Other times I’ll think, I wonder why I saved this.
I’ve watched several television shows having to do with forgotten items. I used to watch If Walls Could Talk. People would buy an historic house or building and find amazing things in unlikely places. Recently I watched a show called Attic Gold which involves a small company who will clean out an attic, free of charge, but they keep what they find and remodel the attic. I’ve watched some of the shows where people purchase the contents of storage units and find amazing things. I realize that some “finds” are staged. After all, this is television. However, I also know that there really are some surprises out there.
I remember a show I watched a long time ago where the new owners were going to renovate an older house, and they found old movie posters that had been used as insulation in the walls. They were in pristine condition and valuable.
Where a mystery is involved, people will hide things in the most unlikely places. When a writer is developing a story, they can create a scenario wherein a character might find something of historic importance, or they might find something recently hidden – clues.
I wrote Old Murders Never Die, which had to do with finding a ghost town that no one had seen since the late 1800s. All Sandi Webster had to work with were things she found in the town. The people had left suddenly and many homes and businesses were found just as they were left, with plates still sitting on dining tables and merchandise still in the general store. It was fun to dream up what a modern day person might find and coming up with an old mystery. The clues were all there, just waiting for her.
I found a letter that a soldier had written to my grandmother during World War I. He wrote it on Armistice Day and described what was going on. He was in the Argonne Forest when this took place. Fascinating. He included a few comments about what was going on in her life, which made it even more personal and interesting. (She’d recently been in an industrial accident and lost her arm. This would have been in 1918. It’s difficult to know how long it took her original letter about her arm to reach him.)
Another unexpected, and shocking, find was a photograph that was mixed in with family photos. I know I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but it’s difficult to forget. My grandmother gave me a large trunk filled with photos dating back to the 1800s through around 1980. There were so many to sort through, and as I looked at them I found a photo of a firing squad shooting people. The Officer in Charge sat astride a horse, the troops were in the background, and you could actually see the smoke coming out of the rifles. The people being shot appeared to be starting to fall. For clarification, no one involved was American. I sent the photo to a retired military historian and he believes these were possibly Asians. Even more startling, or to add to it, it appears that my grandfather took the picture. This would have been between 1904 and 1907. I won’t include the photo in this post because it would shock too many people.
Clues? They can be found in the darnedest places. Maybe you’ve found something of interest mixed in with the ordinary, everyday things. Tell us about your most surprising find.
Until next time, try sorting through some of those old boxes that have been stored and forgotten. You may find things that make you smile, or that make your mouth pop open in surprise.
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