You know how, every once in awhile, there’s a news story about people who move into a new house and find things left behind by previous owners? Maybe it’s thousands of dollars hidden in a wall, or a trashy painting left in the attic that’s really an early Picasso from his Velvet Period, or human bones buried in the backyard that are uncovered when digging for the new swimming pool and may be the remains of a mobster gone missing in 1947.
We have something like that in our house. It’s nothing of value (of course), and nothing criminal (I hope). But it is somewhat mysterious.
On the door between the garage and the basement of our new house is a single calendar page from January, 1955. It’s from one of those giveaway calendars; the company name stamped on it is the Leonard H. Bruck Insurance Agency (of Tyler, Texas, no less).
One would think that a calendar page taped to a garage door would be intended to mark the month when the house was completed, or when the first owners moved in…sort of a poor man’s cornerstone if you will. But here’s the thing: the house was built in 1959. So why would somebody buy a brand new house and put up a calendar page from four years earlier? Unless, as my wife Barbara suggests, the garage door was erected in 1955 and it took four years to build the rest of the house around it.
As near as I can tell, we are the fourth owners of this house. There were the originals, back in ‘59. Then it was sold in 1977, again in 2001, and then to us. So the question is, who put up the calendar page, and why?
The people we bought it from didn’t look old enough to have had something significant happen in 1955, other than maybe being born. But a basic Internet search reveals that the husband is 60-64 years old, so, barring a data error, he wasn’t born in 1955. The wife graduated university in 1972, so a 1955 birth year for her would imply that she is a genius. Which, based on our dealings with her, she probably is not, unless she’s a genius in the same way that person from A Beautiful Mind was a genius.
But even if one of them was born in January of 1955, who moves to a new house in 2001 and puts up a calendar page from the month they were born…46 years ago? Or was it a memento that they’d been carrying around for decades and suddenly forgot to pack when they moved from here?
That doesn’t make much sense. So that means the calendar was put up by one of the first two owners and left undisturbed for at least 10 years by the people we bought from. This is somewhat believable because, after all, we haven’t taken it down either. Would you? What if it’s part of some sort of curse on the house (“The person who takes down this calendar page will live the rest of their lives in an alternate universe where Eisenhower is president and there is no Internet.”)? With my advanced knowledge of structural engineering, for all I know, that calendar page is preventing the entire house from collapsing into a pile of dust.
But wait–there’s even more to the mystery. Because the calendar page isn’t even the slightest bit yellowed! And the blue tape holding it onto the door looks pretty fresh.
Maybe, I thought, it’s a recent commemorative reproduction. Companies do that all the time. Perhaps the Leonard H. Bruck Insurance Agency of Tyler, Texas issued a limited edition January, 1955 calendar page and sent it randomly to people in Connecticut complete with their original five digit telephone number. And they did this in, say, 2005 for, let us suppose, their 50th anniversary. And they printed it on very nice, yellowing-resistant paper. And the people who owned our house then thought it was charming, and stuck it on the garage door with blue tape.
Or maybe I’m grasping at straws. Especially since another basic Internet search reveals that the Leonard H. Bruck Insurance Agency of Tyler, Texas, phone number 2-6506, has not existed since 1967, when it was bought out by the Hibbs-Hallmark & Company Insurance Agency, also of Tyler, Texas, a prospering concern with (according to its website) 150 employees and a 10-digit phone number.
Okay, so possibly the reproduction theory doesn’t wash.
Well, then, how long can a piece of paper hang in a garage without getting yellow or deteriorating in any obvious way? A couple of years maybe?
So, I have no choice but to apply Occam’s Razor, that principle which is often quoted in police shows, that says the simplest solution is often the correct one. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- The parents of one of the people we bought the house were from Tyler, Texas.
- They had another child in January of 1955, and lovingly kept a page from the Leonard H. Bruck giveaway calendar to commemorate the blessed event. They carefully wrapped it in a protective cover and stored it in a temperature-controlled, air-tight environment.
- This drove their first child crazy, because the parents had not kept a calendar page from their birth.
- After the parents died, the crazy child kept the calendar page from his or her brother’s or sister’s birth date until such time as they could use it to drive someone else crazy.
- Decades later the crazy person decided that the perfect “someone else” would be the people buying their beloved home. So they removed the 1955 calendar page from its protective cover and taped it to their 2011 garage door before moving out.
And there you have it.
Wait, I think I’m applying that other principle, the one from Sherlock Holmes that’s always quoted on science fiction shows that says when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
Yes, that’s the one.
But however far-fetched you think my theory is, what if I told you…dum, dum, dum…that the woman who lived here previously has the same birthday as my daughter?
Coincidence? I think…yeah, probably.
See you soon.