It was a plain wooden box. But it contained something that was not just unexpected — it was almost like a journey to a bygone world.
She opened the box, nervous and unsure of what she was going to find. At first glance, it looked like an ordinary chest containing old trinkets and papers. But something inside told her that it was a lot more than that. She dug in further, and that’s when her instincts were proven right: it was a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. But what she didn’t expect was what this finding revealed about her family’s past.
The Michigan woman, who goes by the name ‘doggetofftheqcekmty’ on Imgur, hadn’t set out to find such a remarkable object. She had simply been rummaging through her grandfather’s closet in the hopes of clearing out some storage space. But when she saw the box, something about it caught her attention. So she set aside her chores and pulled out the chest from under the pile of items. Before opening it, she carefully inspected the outside.
The box itself was nothing ostentatious. It was very simple and minimalistic, made of wood and some iron accents. It had a thick layer of dust on the top, indicating it hadn’t been handled for a while. For a moment, the woman hesitated to continue with her endeavor, worrying that she might breathe in some toxic mold if she opened it. But in the end, she decided to take the gamble and see what was inside.
When she opened the chest, the first thing she saw was a bunch of rolled up papers on one side, all of them were old and yellow. On the other side, there was a shallow compartment — but it was empty aside from a few scraps of paper. Nothing too unusual so far, and she even felt disappointed. “It’s not a very good box,” she wrote. But as she unrolled some of the papers, her curiosity started to grow.
One of the documents she pulled out was an old high school diploma, torn in several places. It was from Grand Rapids Central High School, awarded to a man named Harry Ganes Messer, and dated 1922. That was almost a century ago! She wondered if this man could be her great-grandfather. She would have asked her grandpa, but they weren’t exactly on the best of terms. Perhaps this discovery could bridge the gap between them.
As she dug up further, she found even more family records. There were high school diplomas for other men in the Messer family, possibly her great uncles. Then she came upon her grandfather’s diploma. “This could be what I’ve been needing,” she thought, already planning to take the document with her to start a conversation with her grandpa. But then, she realized these records were only half of the treasure contained in the old wooden box.
After she pulled the diplomas out of the chest, she discovered the compartment drawer could be removed. She dislodged it from its hinges and took it out of the box, being careful not to damage it. Once she did this, she found another big stack of papers at the bottom of the chest. But these didn’t look like personal documents. When she finally realized what they were, she couldn’t hold in the anticipation.
“Jack-Frikin-Pot!” she wrote. The box was full of newspapers and magazines from many years before, seemingly detailing records of major events throughout history. As she spread them all over her couch, she marveled at the treasure trove she had inadvertently come across. It was not only a fascinating record of past events but also a glimpse into her grandfather’s life and what he found important. And when she started to look at them, one by one, her excitement grew.
She pulled out a special supplement of the Miami Herald that commemorated the bicentennial of the American Revolution. She also found a copy of the Detroit Times, dated August 6, 1945 — the day the Hiroshima bomb was dropped. But further inside the box, she found a copy of the New York Herald dated April 15, 1865. And the event that it heralded was one for the history books: the assassination of President Lincoln. It was an extraordinary find, but the next paper she discovered had a completely different kind of significance.
This one was a copy of the Detroit Free Press, dated June 30, 1891. But, unlike all the other newspapers she had unearthed from the chest, the front page contained no news of historical significance. However, she realized this paper could have a much more personal meaning: back then, people used to save the newspaper from the day they got married. So it could be one of her great-grandparents’ wedding date. Right then she knew this was the conversation-started she had been looking for.
Before heading out to talk to her grandfather, she finished looking through the rest of the newspapers. There were three editions from the World War I era, one of which announced the signing of the Armistice and the end of the war on November 11, 1918. The headline highlights the “drastic truce terms” Germany was forced to sign, which included their complete surrender and reparations but did not agree to release German prisoners nor relaxation of the blockade against Germany. Another newspaper bore much more joyous news.
A copy of the Chicago Daily Tribune, dated June 2, 1953, celebrated the coronation of Elizabeth Windsor as the new Queen of England, following the passing of her father, King George VI. She was 27 years old. A colorful sketch was featured on the front page, accompanied by news of heavy rain pouring over a crowd of 250,000 in Westminster and the Mall. A newspaper from 10 years later told a much more sorrowful story.
November 23, 1963 was the date on a copy of the Baltimore Sun, a newspaper that indicated her grandfather had also spent some time in Maryland. The headline reported the murder of President John F. Kennedy and the swearing in of Lyndon B. Johnson as his successor. The entire front page struck a mournful tone as it wrote of a world in grief. Another publication she found also covered the event but from a different angle.
A copy of LIFE magazine from 1966 contained an examination of the footage pertaining to Kennedy’s assassination during the motorcade in Dallas. The headline reads, “A Matter of Reasonable Doubt,” with a sub-headline questioning, “Did Oswald Act Alone?” This suggests that, so soon after the fact, people were already challenging the official version of events — and in national publications at that. A few more newspapers in the stack show how eventful the 1960s were.
Three newspapers that she found covered the events of July 20, 1969. The headline on the Miami Herald read, “Man Walks on The Moon,” followed by Neil Armstrong’s immortal line. All in all, the box’s contents proved to be an invaluable collection of records of world events, now in the hands of a new generation. But to her they were way more than that: a means to connect with her family in a way that no modern method of communication could.