When I read the note, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, although I did feel a bit guilty. It said “Dear God. I drowned a worm. I didn’t mean to. Please don’t let me go to Hell.” It was dated 1958.
I wondered why she was diligent about putting the date on the notes but never signed them. I know past generations often heard the phrase “a fools’ name, a fools’ face, always seen in a public place.” Maybe that was why but her artwork should have been signed. At least I thought it should.
I started looking through the attic, being careful where I stepped as only some of it had been floored. Near the front of the house was a small round window. Stuck around the window were more notes. The walls surrounding it, hid several more.
I remember thinking, “this is almost like the Wailing Wall.” I began taking them down and carefully put them into a wooden box that before I cleaned it, held the remnants of what appeared to have at one time been a rats’ nest. As I wandered through the attic, I found small hair ribbons wrapped around protruding nails. I unwrapped them and put them in with the notes.
While investigating the back wall, I found a doll hanging from a ribbon. Her hair had been cut off to the roots and band-aids were wrapped around her arms and legs. “Ah,” I thought. “Maybe our little author was playing both hair stylist and doctor.” She went into the box as well.
My curiosity got the best of me again, and I decided to open a few more notes.
The first one said “Dear God. Would you give me wings so I can fly away?” Dated 1958. First there was the wish to be a horse and now she wanted wings. “Why did she want to fly away?” I wondered.
The second said “Dear God. Are you there? Granny said you are everywhere. Please don’t let her die.” It was dated 1959. It was the second note, pleading for the life of her grandmother. They must have been close and I wondered if her grandmother was sick.
The third one I opened made me laugh again. It said “Dear God. I climbed out on the roof today. Please don’t tell daddy. He’ll whip me.” Dated 1958. How that little girl managed to climb onto the roof, I have no idea. Did she go out the window? Is that why it was nailed shut? Surely if there was a ladder somewhere, she would have been seen. The attic was three stories up.
I began to think that the attic must have been her play room or hiding place or maybe even her refuge. Maybe she played dress-up or maybe she pretended to slay dragons. I hoped the other notes would reveal more about her.
The rest would be read later while I was relaxing and drinking a much deserved cup of coffee but I decided to open one more box before I went downstairs.
In the box, I found a picture. It was a scene of trees painted entirely in blues and I couldn’t tell if it had been painted with oils or acrylics. It was almost hauntingly beautiful and like the picture of the horse and the notes, it wasn’t signed. I wondered if it had been painted by her or someone else. I searched for a date but was disappointed when I didn’t find one.
I thought it would look lovely in a frame and it would find a home on a wall somewhere, even though for reasons I couldn’t explain, I always had an aversion to the color blue. That color seemed to be so cold and lonesome, much like I viewed the ocean.
As I pulled out crumpled newspapers dated from the fifties and sixties, they were almost as intriguing and the treasures they covered. Scanning the advertisements, I was mesmerized. A 12 pack of Drewrys beer cost $1.79. French fries at McDonald’s were 12¢. Red potatoes cost 3¢ a pound. The cost of admission for an adult to Disneyland was $3.75. A child under twelve was $2.75.
The best was an advertisement for “Cocaine Toothache Drops.” Price, 15¢. I imagine a little cocaine would fix you right up, toothache or not and wondered if it really did have cocaine in it, like the old Coca Colas.
This house was holding so many memories and bit and pieces of the past, which I appreciated. So often, it’s out with the old and in with the new but I had a reverence for old things and yes, old people as well.
I took one more look into the box and found another picture. This one gave me chills.
To be continued____________________________