The Case of the Mysterious Box

I totally feel like Nancy Drew. I’m finally going through the boxes that I stuffed full of unsorted papers, photos and mementoes when my sister and I cleaned out our parent’s house. I even labeled the boxes “sleep stuff to sort” so I wasn’t even pretending to know what was in there. Now, eight years and two moves later, I am ready.

Some of the discoveries have been interesting –¬†my dad’s college degree was in industrial management! His army commendation was signed by Nixon, he had a bronze star… I had no idea. And then I found the box.

I have no recollection of ever seeing this box growing up, but based on the contents, it hadn’t been opened since 1980 but was indeed in my childhood home. We moved there in 1978. My guess is it was up on the top shelf of my mom’s closet. It was definitely hers.


I opened it to find a mishmash of photos and a few papers. The weirdest thing in there was an envelope of my sister’s hair, judging from the date, from her first haircut. I sorted the photos in to 3 piles: keep, scan and omg so blurry. After I had everything out, I realized the box had an insert/tray/false bottom.


I lifted it to find one thing – a folded and yellowed copy of the Chicago Tribune’s stock section from April 1932.


I have no clue why that is in there. My mom was a known antiquer/tag sale aficionado so maybe she bought it when we still lived in Chicago and the paper came with the box. Most of the photos in the box were from the Chicago years, before we moved to California in 1976.

Then my husband noticed that the bottom had small drawers on either side of the tray that held the newspaper. It took a little maneuvering, but he got them open. The drawers contained undated envelopes of photo negatives.


We joked for a minute that they were probably going to be historic naughty photos, but they were squares marked Kodak 126 and mostly contained photos of kids, which is consistent with the photos in the box.


So my mom knew about the false bottom enough to put the negatives in at some point in the 70s and therefore either put the paper in or left it in there. But why?? I will never know.


Found in the box: my sister rocking some serious plaid pants on the shore of Lake Michigan

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One Response to “The Case of the Mysterious Box”

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