Living in a town like Hannibal, connections to its rich past are numerous, provided one knows where to look.
Although the best chronicled historical backgrounds are the structures overseen by the Mark Twain Home Foundation, most buildings in the historic district have a colorful past. In fact, in Hannibal it isn’t just structures that have links to the past. It’s not uncommon to find empty lots where at one time buildings of note stood.
It’s not just buildings that offer a glimpse into the past. Sometimes, if one’s lucky, connections area found to the people who called America’s Hometown home long before it carried that moniker.
Some of the most fascinating stories I’ve had the opportunity to tell during my tenure here at the Courier-Post have had to do with time capsules that have been dug up.
How did people view their world when their snapshot of history was taken? What was their expectations of the future? Answers to those questions and more could be discovered in a sealed container that was buried decades earlier. But as I found out recently, not all time capsules are buried underground.
On the evening of May 20, when a powerful storm blew through Hannibal, part of a tree in my backyard landed on my house and one of my family’s cars. But the most noticeable remnant of the storm was the water that started dripping through the ceiling in our kitchen.
The 100 mph wind not only took down part of our tree, it also blew a good deal of water through a screen-covered window in our attic. And as water frequently does, it found a path to a lower level – our kitchen.
Since the amount of water that came through the ceiling was not significant, once the dripping stopped I was content. Not so my bride.
Fearful that mold could be growing beneath the attic floor and above the kitchen ceiling, my wife, Nancy, was determined that the floor be taken up, the wet insulation removed and new insulation put down.
While our insurance company was willing to pay for the work, we couldn’t find one of the contractors recommended to us who was interested in the job. One, however, did say we should not waste any time in getting the old insulation out, in case mold was present.
Since during the summer our attic can get hot enough to bake cookies in, the decision was made that the project needed to take place sooner than later. Consequently, that’s what Nancy and I spent a portion of June 1 doing.
After removing the flooring and digging into the insulation, I was relieved to find that approximately 98 percent of the material was dry. That being the case, the decision was made to not take up as many floor boards and replace as much insulation as first envisioned, which did not break my heart.
Page 2 of 2 - As we removed handfuls of insulation, it wasn’t long before other items started turning up. Nancy uncovered a wheel that came off a toy of some kind. Later my bride found another remnant of a toy - a small clown’s head.
Mixed in with the insulation I removed was an old, blank receipt from the Hannibal Clinic. The address on the paper listed its address as Grand Avenue.
Folded neatly in the insulation was a child’s science homework. Because the assignment received an “A” grade, I was surprised to find it buried in the attic floor. Isn’t that where one would expect to find “D” and “F” papers stashed?
Who knew my attic was a time capsule? And while there was likely additional bits of another family’s history buried there, I wasn’t about to dig through more insulation to find them.