Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone But Not Forgotten

When we bought our old barn, I needed furniture tout de suite for the guest room. We found a five piece mahogany set in an antiques mall which I set to cleaning up before company arrived.

As I was putting a drawer back into the dresser, I felt a slight obstruction. I pulled the drawer out completely and this is what I found bunched up against the frame:


Some very groovy pantyhose still in the unopened packaging. Sixties? Early Seventies?

Let’s take a closer look at the traces of the spit-spot Mrs. Harold Diehl, Sr. who hailed from the Baltimore area. My keen sleuthing skills are at work here:


An entirely separate post could be written on the “Gone But Not Forgotten” department stores of yore.


Evidently Mrs. Diehl enjoyed shopping and was a meticulous record-keeper.


Not one of these receipts has a year. Several have a date written thusly: MM/DD/Y. The year is “6” Whether 66 or 76, I’m not sure.

In the days before we plopped everything into a gift bag….remember when we had to actually wrap things?


Neatly folded wrapping paper

And best of all this little notebook:



Nothing particularly interesting lies within and yet I find it rather moving:


Maybe she was a brunette?



The usually neat handwriting now a scribble….has something happened?


And perhaps one of the Diehls was a Mainer:


And that’s it. That’s all I know of Mrs. Harold Diehl, Sr.  Not even her first name. When I eventually sell the furniture, I will include all of this in the neat little plastic bag in which I found it.

Mrs. Diehl may be gone, but she won’t be entirely forgotten. At least not on my watch.

Oh yes, remember to check that furniture before you put it up for sale. It might have something to say…..

Thanks for reading,






About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
This entry was posted in Challenges, The Barn and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

95 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Gone But Not Forgotten

  1. Mary Ellen says:

    Loved this. When are you going to write a book?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this post. A time capsule from a not too distant time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. markbialczak says:

    Beautiful discovery, Barbara. What interesting clues!

    Mr. Diehl liked his slippers more comfortable than his work shoes!

    He had a large torso, short arms and a big neck!

    I fear that Mrs. Diehl had a stroke, don’t you? But she plugged on in her notebook, worrying about her friend Mrs. Knox who probably had a granddaughter who was an outpatient in a children’s hospital.

    And you are right, a friend or relative in Maine was going to receive a year’s subscription — only 10 issues, I wonder what months were skipped — of Down East magazine.

    Thank you for piecing together the family mystery and wishing to pass it onward, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. dorannrule says:

    How exciting to find something from the past hidden away like that! You could write a novel with that material. And it makes for a beautiful story right here in the blog-us-fear. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dor, I am still waiting to find the priceless artifact somewhere on the property. But so far it’s Mrs. Harold Diehl, SR., and a tarnished silver spoon in the walls of the house. Hope springs eternal, my dear!!


      • reocochran says:

        If you look up the lyrics, not having to even listen to the singer’s voice….it is really poetic. Vance Joy sang the song on the popular rock radio channel here in Columbus, Ohio. I am going off with Bill to see the Stephen Hawking’s movie, “Everything is Relative.” First Friday once a month ‘date.’

        Liked by 2 people

  5. reocochran says:

    This is so fascinating, Barb. I think you would be able to write a short story about Mrs. Harold Diehl! I enjoyed the ideas floating about, what happened to the handwriting? What happened to the woman who misplaced her new package of panty hose? I do love the details of a family, some far flung in Maine, while her husband’s size is rather large… smiles and good detective work. I loved this post and I am wishing to see the mahogany bedroom set… Nosy Robin! I will buzz around your head until you post a picture… just kidding!
    Have a wonderful weekend, my dear Barb! hugs xoxo
    I heard a song called, “Riptide” by someone


    • BZZZZZZZ, you are too funny!!! I do look at that furniture and imagine the Diehls in the little double bed. Remember when everybody slept in a double bed and now we’re all in Queens or Kings and doubles seem almost like a form of torture? Robin, part of your message got lost….”Riptide”…..


  6. nrhatch says:

    What? No money stashed away in secret compartments?

    Last week some guy bought a High Boy at an auction for $40 and found $127,000 in War Bonds stashed in a secret compartment. Here’s the story:


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Parnassus says:

    Hello Barbara, Typing a few keywords into the internet, I came up with a Dorothy W. Diehl, who was married to Harold W. Diehl Sr., of Baltimore. If this is the right one, then Mark is correct, because she died in 2005 at age 95 of complications form a stroke. Harold died in 1985. Mrs. Diehl seems an active and interesting person. She was a teacher, then went back to Johns Hopkins for a degree and became a vice-principal. Here is the link to the Baltimore Sun article:

    Isn’t the internet an amazing thing? So much information in just a few seconds. Although the article did not mention her preferences in hosiery, it did mention children who could be easily traced if you felt this was worth pursuing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. John says:

    This is a fantastic find!! One receipt has 7-something but it still gives an idea. Have you considered trying to find the family and send these items to them if possible?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow… bedroom slipper sizes! That seems a throwback. Thanks for the retro journey, Barbara. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Barbara Stevens says:

    What an fascinating find, my ever curious friend. I love to come across items that people use as bookmarks in library books. (remember those?) They range from grocery shopping lists, receipts, recipes, and my personal favorite, photographs. I want to hear the story of the silver spoon found in your wall.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Have your read “People of the Book,” Barbara. It’s along those very same lines….if you haven’t read it, do me a favor and do. I think you will love it…

      I recommended to a friend that she read a particular Muriel Sparks novel which is tough to find. We also discussed our mutual love of Nancy Mitford. Now here’s the cool part….she found the Muriel Sparks novel in a bin in a used book store and found tucked inside the yellowing NY Times obituary for Nancy Mitford! How about that!!

      As to the spoon. When we were doing demo to the horribly rotting siding and sheathing and….oh the mold and evidence of chimney fires….memories are flooding back….anyway, the contractors found a spoon and got all excited with visions of Tara, I guess, and people hiding their silver from the damn Yankees. I gently suggested that it might not be the case as the house was built in 1915, but I swear they still believe it was the case. Not a very special spoon, either. I’m waiting for the hidden cache of silver to show up one of these days when we’re gardening as there were Civil War-era houses all around us. Sadly all gone now!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jodi says:

        I LOVED People of the Book!


      • Wasn’t it great, Jodi? I learned so much from that book especially about the Spanish Inquisition. Just fascinating. In my next life, I want to be a restorer of ancient manuscripts! Have you read any other Geraldine Brooks novels? Her ‘Year of Wonders” about the plague?


      • Jodi says:

        I have not. Should I add to my list?


      • I would, Jodi. Also she wrote a book called “March” which is the last name of the “Little Women” sisters. You may remember their father was off to war through the Louisa May Alcott novel. Well, Geraldine Brooks wrote about Mr. March’s experiences in the Civil War and the Little Women characters are all sort of just secondary figures in the plot. But I would read “Year of Wonders” first. My personal favorite of hers is still “People of the Book.”

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Barbara Stevens says:

    As usual you have given me much food for thought Barbara. I will put People of the Book on my must read list. The Muriel Sparks (loved The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie) and Nancy Mitford story brought goosebumps. While you may not have found items of great value, (yet) your aforementioned curiosity about people and the world around you is priceless.


  12. PoshPedlar says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed your post. I wrote a whole thesis on ‘found objects’ some years ago and your blog brought back memories. Vintage and antique always has a narrative attached, whether real or imagined, something ‘the new’ can never claim. Thanks for sharing….

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes, what a delight to have discovered those remnants of distant pasts. A lot can be gleaned from those sort of items and can be further knitted upon by speculation and surmise even without supporting evidence. I often pick up abandened shopping lists from shopping trolleys out of curiosity, especially interested in their dietery habits. What to make of a list including1 kilo of Brussel sprouts and 6 leeks, against another list with six 2 liter Cokes? There is so much there as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. bkpyett says:

    What a charming glimpse into the life of Mrs. Harold Diehl Senior, with your sleuth like investigation skills. Have you ever put your skill into writing a detective story? I think you’d be good at it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love this! Based on gut feeling only, I’d say the era is the 70’s. The technology of the paper work feels more advanced than that of the 60’s. The hand writing on the invoice in the lower right – it strikes me as too flowery to be something of the 60’s. But then again, the 60’s were all flowery-powery, too, weren’t they?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed on all counts, Maggie. It’s interesting though about the handwriting. My sister’s mother-in-law, a woman pushing 80, writes in such an elaborate curlicue style that you can barely discern what the heck is on the page. I’ve never seen anything quite like it especially from that era. But I’m with you, I’m thinking early 70s.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. What a find…and just look at the information dug out by your commenters!
    And panty hose…which we knew as tights….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jumpers vs.sweaters and now tights? Tights for us were the thicker opague stockings like schoolgirls would wear. Sometimes it truly is a wonder we assorted English-speakers can communicate with one another at all!

      Agreed. Great info today from the readers!


  17. menomama3 says:

    What a cool post and I love all the insights from the readers. I wondered if the 2 handwritten notes were from 2 different people. The lettering is so different from each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. What a find! And what a marvel the internet is – not only for searching for the elusive Mrs Harold Diehl Snr but for the answers that came flowing out of the comments on your post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Oh, I love little scraps like that!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. joannesisco says:

    This post and all the comments have been so interesting!! It’s been a wonderful find for so many reasons 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Jodi says:

    How awesome! When did you buy this and take these photos? Such wonderful observations. I love what Mrs Harold Diehl wrote in her notebook, and then wonder what happened when the quick scribbles about Children’s Hospital were needed? I imagine the anxiety and fear… Wonderful post, Barbara. You do have a book in you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I took the photos today when I saw the photo challenge. I bought the furniture in 2006 and found the items then too. I’ve been saving them in the plastic bag I found them in and for some reason they popped into my mind today when I saw the photo prompt. I read the Children’s Hospital note a bit differently than Mark did. I imagined that Mrs. Knox was the nurse in the children’s outpatient unit. Who knows, though.


  22. How intriguing, Barbara. That must have been so much fun to find and then ponder.


    Liked by 1 person

  23. Behind the Story says:

    It gives one a sense of the layers of life. After tearing off wallpaper in a previous house, we read the notes the carpenter wrote on the wall. Somehow that really touched me, seeing his handwriting saved for us to find.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Sandra says:

    What a find! It’s a good idea to carry your husband’s measurements around with you – I do it these days. And it’s an even better idea to leave your find behind for someone else. Maybe you should add something of your own too? Great post – I know I can always rely on a good read when I pop round to your place.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Janis Grizzard says:

    Gosh….I could write a whole story on that stuff!


  26. What we leave behind can say volumes about us. A very interesting post, Barbara – the comments as well. Great detective work on discovering she had a stroke and who she was.

    This why I “edited” my journals this summer. 😉


    • Oh yes, so many of the great letter writers of history consigned their letters to the fireplace as they neared death….or had their spouses do it! The LOSS! But I don’t blame you for editing one bit. Were you picturing the girls reading it and saying “Mom!!”


  27. Excellent post for the challenge. And some fine comments, especially the detective work on tracking her down. Strange obit, unless I missed it, it didn’t mention her son’s name unless it was ….Jr.

    My mum saved similar bills for years although would periodically throw some out, but I was left with a few after her death. They were dated sixties. And given that Mrs Diehl was born in 1910, sh would have been in her sixties in the seventies, why buy new furniture then? And on dates, interesting you bought it the year after she died.

    Doesn’t all old people’s handwriting deteriorate too? With or without strokes. Mine is bad anyway, add a damaged wrist and tiredness and it’s illegible. Having sad that, there is a significant difference.

    I wonder what her descendants would think. A bunch of total strangers chatting and speculating about their mother/grandmother/great-grandmother? That’s the internet for you …


  28. la_lasciata says:

    People making similar discoveries in future decades won’t find handwritten notes at all, will they, Barbara ? – most of us have already forgotten how to write (or almost). So there will never more be such wonderful finds – just … objects. 😦


    • I was going to make the exact observation here, but felt I had already beat that drum to death in one of my earlier posts about letter-writing. So I’m awfully glad you brought it up, dear M-R. What will be lodged in future dresser drawers….obsolete cell phones? Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • la_lasciata says:

        At least it would be better for us all if they were put into a drawer, rather than chucked in the bin, eh, Barbara ?
        In fact, I simply can’t imagine what kind of wonderful little collections such as this one could ever be come across in a few more generations.
        How sad is progress !


  29. Phil Taylor says:

    I love to find stuff like that. I also love the little mysteries it creates. I’m sad though for Mrs. Harold Diehl. You were sharp to notice the change in handwriting and it makes me think that perhaps something medical and debilitating was happening with her, especially because of the notation that said “outpatient dept.” I hope Mrs. Harold Diehl is well somewhere in the world. Wouldn’t it be funny if she or one of her relatives read this and contacted you?


    • Well, Phil, the plot has thickened. Parnassus found Mrs. Diehl’s obituary and in it there is mention of a son. I’m going to write him and see if he has any interest in these items. Mark had surmised she might have had a stroke and darn if that isn’t what was the cause of death. If there’s any response from the family, I will let you all know. Thanks!


  30. Another captivating piece, Barbara, and a great example of why I love to pursue to vintage, too. It’s the prior lives these pieces have had.


  31. Such a great post!!! But who was in Children’s Hospital?


  32. What an interesting find. I love those kind of surprises.


  33. I’ve found this story fascinating since you first shared it. It’s strange isn’t it, to be provided such a small, but intimate glimpse into a stranger’s personal life…


  34. dorothy says:

    Speaking as an antique dealer, the most fascinating part of the hunt is finding items tucked away or gathered in a pile with no rhyme or reason except to just be done with it. That’s where those of us who enjoy the search come in. I once found a very valuable brooch in a stash of costume jewelry going to a yard sale. I would love to know about the owner and if this was a special gift or just what. It’s about the thrill of the hunt and trying to put the pieces together. Great post Barb.


    • That’s exactly the sort of thing those of us who love antiques malls and vintage live for, Dorothy! It takes a discerning eye to say “Hold on, what’s this?” when rooting through a pile of costume jewelry. I love that story!


  35. Well, those pantyhose WERE just fabulous! But then you hit the mother-load with the other stuff! I love how those receipts were from the kind of credit machine that made the carbon impression and not the electronic kind. And her notes were so sweet! What awesome clues! And how sweet of you to keep them with the dresser! ❤


  36. Sheryl says:

    I loved this post. This type of find is my kind of thing–I’m already creating a whole scenario about Mrs. Diehl and her family in my head.


  37. Pingback: Steve: The Apple (Orange) of My Eye | Ramisa the Authoress

  38. cat9984 says:

    The notepad reminded me of something I recently realized. Only expensive men’s shirts still have collar/sleeve measurements. The rest are s/m/l.


  39. This is a great post! Off the topic a little: I am excited to have discovered Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. You can paint upholstery and furniture fast! I’ve always liked Ms. Sloan but somehow missed this trick. Their website lists states and towns and shops where you can find the paint. My designer friends are raving since I posted on FB. New color recipe book in 2013. Cheers!


  40. Adored your story Barbara…love it when connections are made. Here is the post I was trying to send on IG..love little secrets. Best wishes from Saigon… Jeanne :). http://www.collageoflife-henrqs.blogspot.com/2014/05/between-pageslittle-surprises-and.html


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