Mike Renovates his Bathroom: Words in the Walls

Finding a 43-year-old relic behind the plaster.

On Tuesday, Nov. 5, 1968, someone stood in my bathroom and experienced very much what I’m experiencing now, struggling with cracks in the turn-of-the-century plaster on the walls and cursing the room’s 1930s-era electrical wiring. That person also must have sweated over square foot after square foot of wall-lining, baby-puke-green tile — though for entirely different reasons from my own.

While I can only imagine exactly what he or she was thinking (“This tile I’m installing is horrible! Why the hell did we pick this color?!”), I know that date with some certainty. That’s because he — or she, or they — left behind in the wall a sort of journalistic time capsule.

When embedding a ceramic, in-wall toilet paper dispenser into the old plaster, this mystery home-improver stuffed the space inside the wall with crumpled pages from the Nov. 5, 1968 edition of the now-defunct Bethlehem Globe-Times. (About a decade later, the paper was bought out by the Easton Express of neighboring Easton, PA; the Bethlehem paper’s name lives on in that of the Easton-based Express-Times.)

While digging through the wall to install my own electrical wiring, I fished out as much of the yellowed, brittle newspaper as I could. I present it here without further comment; click on any of the images to see larger versions:

'Tuesday, November 5, 1968'

'FULL TIME GIRL - for general work in small office'

'Fortunately the cut was not large and only required two stitches.'

'Gilligan's Island'! In color!

'Pro Football On TV At Saturation Point'

Bonus videos from the bathroom project, posted on YouTube over the last month and a half:

Article © 2011 by Michael Duck