For some reason this morning I was thinking about newspapers, most particularly about the Daily Register. Two years from now this venerable daily will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Newsweek (the print version), Life, Look, Collier’s, etc. are past tense now. The Daily Register endures.

Looking back over the decades, I recall a column in the Register by one Timotheus T. Turner, a column that was probably read more than anything else in the Register except, of course, for the obituaries. As I recall, Mr. Turner’s musings appeared on the left side of the front page, and what musings they were, too. One time he reprinted ads from an old newspaper someone had found in the attic. Mostly, though, he wrote about the ephemera of the everyday, such wonders such the over-sized turnip or the latest cold snap.

Several years after he left the Daily Register I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Turner in Carbondale. (I believe he was connected in some way with SIU at the time). Did I tell the old man how much his column was read and appreciated in my parent’s household all those years ago? I hope so, but probably not.

Thinking about the Register leads to thoughts on another newspaper, one so strange any skeptic worth the name would write it off as a waking dream. Yet I will happily lay my hand on any number of Bibles and swear every word I’m about to share is as true as memory allows.

Years ago carpenters were hired to rebuild an old house that would soon be our new home. Sometimes I would help with the sawing and hammering, despite my having minimal skills with hammer and saw and that’s being generous. One day one of the carpenters said he had something at home he wanted to show me. Maybe I could solve a mystery that had been bothering him for years. Intrigued, I plied him for more details, but to no avail. In fact, for several days in a row he kept forgetting to bring whatever it was that captured his imagination. Finally, enough days later that my mind had turned from solving puzzles to hammering two-by-fours in place without bending nails or smashing thumb, the carpenter slipped from a paper bag what appeared to be an old newspaper of no particular interest.

The second glance said otherwise. Yellowed and rough to the touch as old corn shucks, each of the four folded pages measured two feet by three feet, and each was crowded with text copied entirely by hand. It was all hand copied in pencil and not a real newspaper at all.

There was a breeze that day, as I recall, and the broad sheets fluttered in the sunlight.

Concerning the articles on the four-page spread, I can’t recall even one of them after these many years, or even the title hand-printed at the top of page one;  but the document itself I can’t get out of my head. The strangest part of all, the more I think about it the less sense it makes.

As for my solving the mystery, ha! The carpenter would have done as well asking one of the dogs.

My best response was to thank him for helping further baffle my existence. At the time, puzzling documents seemed relatively insignificant.

Getting the house finished was what really mattered.