Finding History Under the Floor

The newspapers under the floor…

Sounds like the title of a Nancy Drew mystery.

What my husband found one wintery Sunday afternoon was nothing short of amazing.

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He was in the process of beefing up the floor of his wood workshop on our farm. He wanted to lift up the old lino in the building and was getting it ready to put plywood down. The lino was tacked into place with tiny little nails, not glued and when he lifted it underneath was plain brown floor paper. Under that was the find that gave us a tiny window looking back on days long gone by. The whole floor was covered in newspapers and magazines dating back 90 years. It seemed like they were used as some kind of insulating floor paper. Copies of Macleans, Saturday Evening Post, The Country Gentleman, and the Vancouver Province. The dates on them ranged from 1927 – 1934. We spent the next hour carefully picking through them, some of them were in pretty rough shape and they couldn’t be saved. The ones we could salvage were in excellent condition.  We took them into the house, made a pot of coffee and spent the afternoon flipping through the pages of history.

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As I sat at my table all afternoon with my cup of coffee, leafing through 90 year old copies of the Saturday Evening Post I couldn’t help but think of the woman of the household doing the same on a Sunday afternoon in 1928. The ads for things like baby formula and floor wax are works of art, painted in vibrant colors. There are page after page of stories filled with romance and adventure. Articles on everything from household tips to the latest political scandals. Nice to see how some things just don’t change. 

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The Sunday Funnies from the Vancouver Province told the tales of Little Orphan Annie, Gasoline Alley and Dick Tracey.

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Advice columns for young girls gave us some good laughs! – recipes for everything from cakes (which I am going to try) to the many ways you can cook with ‘New Spam’ (which I won’t try) The Country Gentleman was a more practical publication keeping the farmers of the day up to date on the latest in the world of agriculture. Ads for new cars like the Packard and new tractors with rubber tires! One cover story in the Vancouver Province told of the provincial government putting $200,000 towards the building of the Burrard Street bridge.

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In an age long before television, the internet or even radio in this remote area, these magazine subscriptions were such an important connection to the rest of the world for these farmers. Filled with news of the day, articles and stories of adventure and romance I can just  imagine the family eagerly gobbling them up as soon they came in the post. The world has certainly changed and we are in a time when we can be instantly connected to anyone around the world.

This bit of history took me back to a simple time when all your entertainment and news came once a month in the mail.

A part of me longs for that simplicity. Don’t you?

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