On Nov. 22, 1963, Dick Hoagland’s father was in the process of building a new house for the family in suburban Fort Wayne, Ind.
“The next day, at the age of 13, I put the front section of our local evening newspaper, The News-Sentinel, in the wall of what would become my bedroom just as the wallboard was going up,” wrote Dick, who now lives in the District. The front page — with its story about the assassination of John F. Kennedy — “should still be there at our former family home on Maples Road.”
In May 1993, Larry Mansueti redid the porch on his 1924 bungalow in Silver Spring. As he worked one day, he found in the eaves of the porch roof a copy of The Washington Post from a day in 1933. The same day, actually.
“Kind of eerie was the feeling I felt,” wrote Larry.
Even eerier was the lead story, about Adolf Hitler and the rise of his Third Reich.
Larry took that day’s Washington Post, rested it atop the 60-year-old newspaper and put them both back under the eaves. I hope someone finds them in May 2053.
Bob Ebbecke left a message when remodeling his Silver Spring kitchen in 1994, a job that included bricking up one window and cutting a new window opening in a different location.
“The morning after the mason finished putting new bricks in the old window opening, I sipped my first coffee of the day while admiring the mason’s work that would soon be covered by new drywall, never to be admired again,” Bob wrote. “Inspiration struck. I ran to the basement, found a can of spray paint and did my best imitation of ‘COOL DISCO DAN’ before the drywall guy arrived.”
Wrote Bob: “My hidden tribute remains to this day, awaiting discovery by a future remodeler.”
That future remodeler may wonder whether the real “Cool ‘Disco’ Dan” — D.C. street artist Dan Hogg, who died in 2017 — really made it to a suburban kitchen.
A Herndon reader named Lauren tells me she’s lived in her home for 22 years. In all that time, the ever-rotating cast of over-the-range microwave ovens has been a constant source of irritation.
“So any time we’ve had to replace our microwave — which is more times than I’d like to admit — I’ve written an ‘I was here’ note with the date,” wrote Lauren. “Needless to say, there are a lot of dates on that wall.”
René Johnson’s Arlington home was remodeled during the summer of 2000. “Before we laid the wood floor, we traced one hand of each of our three sons, my husband’s and mine on the subfloor in the spot we were going to put the dining table,” René wrote.
And then her husband added one more hand: a very tiny one.
Wrote René: “A year later, son number four was born.”
The predictive power of home messages!
While remodeling her Rockville house this year, Liliane Blom slipped notes under the new floorboards. But she saved the biggest surprise for the bathroom, in the space behind the mirror. Before the new mirror went in, Liliane and her daughter, Sophie Cabrera, installed a pair of dioramas. One depicts a bathroom where a Smurf doll is alarmed by an overflowing sink and the other an artist’s studio, complete with a portrait of a cicada.
Wrote Liliane: “We had a lot of fun, and spent way too much time on it!”
In 1958, David Romanowski’s parents moved the family into a newly built ranch-style house in a suburb south of Buffalo. It remained the family home until 2001, when David’s father sold it and moved to California.
On their last visit, family members inked their names on a wooden post in the attic, and David typed a six-page letter about the history of the house and neighborhood, recounting the changes that had occurred over the years.
“I titled the letter, ‘This House, This Home,’ ” wrote David, who lives in Bethesda. He put it in an envelope and left it in the attic for the new owners to find.
At the end of his document about the house’s life, David wrote: “So much living took place within these walls. Two of us arrived as newborn infants; one of us passed on here. We grew up, fell down, got sick, got well, got angry and grew distant, reconciled and grew close, moved out, moved on, but always looked forward to coming back.”
The letter concluded: “A house is what you move into. A home is what you leave. This house was our home for forty-three years. Now it is yours.”
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.