Sunday, August 3, 2008

The mystery continues . . .

No, this is not an ancient scroll dug up from my backyard that has a secret message lurking in hidden ink which leads to a grand treasure. I am not hep with that movie. These are scraps of paper found in a book once belonging to an Aunt of mine who passed away back in 1983. A little mystery is surrounding it, as you will read within the next photos.

So, those little scraps of paper were found in this book? Not exactly. It was found in another tome that my Aunt owned, but the papers involve THIS book. It took a bit of time for me to figure it out, but the words correspond to a few pages printed in this "Heart Throbs" book. If you cannot read the words or the picture did not appear on your screen, this is what the page says:

AUGUST 31, 1905

It gives me great pleasure to announce to you that The National Magazine has awarded you one of the 840 prizes for your ‘Heart Throb’ contribution.

Heartily congratulating you upon your success, I am,
Yours sincerely,
Signature of Joe Mitchell Chapple

The above award has been submitted and approved
Signature of Senator Allison and Admiral Dewey
For the Judges.

Signed by Senator Allison and Admiral Dewey - Each of the 840 Awards was Personally Signed by these Distinguished Friends of the National
Does this mean she won it, as the page suggests? I do not know. But let me show you the remaining pictures and then we can talk about it.

In the National Magazine for September, 1904, the following announcement was first published:


I am editing the NATIONAL MAGAZINE for what Lincoln loved to call us, "The plain people of America." President McKinley told me I could do it, and the magazine has been a success beyond all expectations.

Now, I want you to help me edit the NATIONAL, and I am going to give ten thousand dollars to those who will do it. What I want is real heart throbs -- those things that make us all kin; those things that endure -- the classics of our own lives. Send me a clipping, a story, an anecdote, or a selection that has touched your heart. It is in the American homes that I am searching for the literature that endures -- those things that touch and pulsate with the best and noblest emotions and sentiment.

It may be in that old school book in the attic; it may be between the leaves of the family Bible; it may be in mother’s scrap-book, yellow with age and hallowed by sacred memories; it may have been given you when you could scarcely read through the tears; it may be one of father’s jovial jokes pasted on the side of his desk, or in that drawer long since unopened; it may be that clipping well worn from taking out the pocketbook often to show a friend for a hearty laugh. Wholesome good cheer, humor, comfort, hope -- those things that make dark days endurable and sunny days enduring. In this way I hope to get those priceless little gems which you have always looked for in your favorite periodical.

Heart throbs -- yes, heart throbs of happiness, heart throbs of courage, heart throbs that make us feel better. Those things that appeal to you must appeal to others; that note of inspiration laid aside -- bring it forth and let us make a magazine that will speak the language of the heart as well as of the mind. I want you to send me these clippings to show me what kind of stories interest you, your mother, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters. I want to know what kind of short, pithy articles you would select if you were sitting here with me at my editorial desk. You are constantly reading stories and anecdotes in the magazines, books, newspapers, or religious periodicals. Perhaps you have clipped them or pasted them in your scrap-book, or you may have remembered where you have seen such a story, and said to yourself, "Well, that’s about as bright as it could be." That is the kind of story I want.

I have placed on deposit with the First National Bank, of Boston, ten thousand dollars ($10,000). This money to be held in trust until the time specified below, when it will be divided among those who help me. To ten persons sending in the best clippings, I will give each one


That is, if you secure one of the first ten awards, and measure six feet high, or four feet five, I will send by express as many silver dollars as will measure your exact height, one silver dollar placed flat upon the other. The others will be 10 awards of $50 each for the next best stories; 20 awards of $25 each for the next best stories, 200 awards of $5 each for the next best stories; 500 awards of $1 each for the next best stories.


Remember you may clip the stories or verse out of an old newspaper or magazine, or an old book, or you may remember a story some one else has told you, or you have read in years past but cannot give the source. Write it out and send it in, but I would like to know where it was published and when, so as to give due credit, but this is not binding, if your memory fails you. They may be bright, cheerful, humorous, pathetic or biographical, or anecdotal –- anything you would call a good story.

United States Senator Allison and Admiral George Dewey will make the final awards on behalf of the Judges.


"A Good Friend." This saying in the book is the same one as on those brown pages that are flaking apart at every touch I make on them. Could they be 103 years old? It is possible. These pages are VERY FRAGILE. The edges are crumbling away. I have them on a glass picture frame so they will not move around too much.

Did my Aunt win the prize, a stack of silver coins as tall as she was (which wasn’t very tall - maybe 5'3'?) If she did not win any of the prizes, then who did? Whose book is this? Who wrote the words on those papers?

These are questions no one has any answer to, and my deducing skills have gone as far as I can take them. All I know is that my Aunt would have been around 14 years old around 1905. She could have been old enough to send in the papers.

Did she? Who knows? The mystery will remain a mystery. But at least I have something to remember her by. This ancient scroll is more precious than any treasures in some silly movie. A look at what true friendship really is:

A Good Friend.

To have a good friend is one of the highest delights of life; to be a good friend is one of the noblest and most difficult undertakings. Friendship depends not upon fancy, imagination or sentiment, but upon character. There is no man so poor that he is not rich if he have a friend; there is no man so rich that he is not poor without a friend. But friendship is a word made to cover many kindly, impermanent relationships. Real friendship is abiding. Like charity, it suffereth long and is kind. Like love, it vaunteth not itself, but pursues the even tenor of its way, unaffrighted by ill-report, loyal in adversity, the solvent of infelicity, the shining jewel of happy days. Friendship has not the iridescent joys of love, though it is closer than is often known to the highest, truest love. Its heights are ever serene, its valleys know few clouds. To aspire to friendship one must cultivate a capacity for faithful affection, a beautiful disinterestedness, a clear discernment. Friendship is a gift, but it is also an acquirement. It is like the rope with which climbers in the high mountains bind themselves for safety and only a coward cuts the rope when a comrade is in danger. From Cicero to Emerson, and long before Cicero and forever after Emerson, the praises of friendship have been set forth. Even fragments of friendship are precious and to be treasured. But to have a whole, real friend is the greatest of earth gifts save one. To be a whole, real friend is worthy high endeavor, for faith, truth, courage and loyalty bring one close to the Kingdom of Heaven.

By Atmos.


  1. Very interesting, Michelle. Although it all remains a mystery, it's great that you have your aunt's mementoes. They speak volumes about the person she was.

  2. Most of the mementos I kept were books, although one is a library book she never returned. The library doesn't exist anymore, so I guess I don't have to worry about paying the past due amount. Can you imagine how much that would cost? Yikes!

  3. What a fun mystery to unravel. Seems writing is in your blood. What a heart-touching insight that is, to know you have this connection with your past. I hope it goes deeper and deeper...

    I posted a link to a very nice contest for women--it's on my blog. Danette Haworth told me about it a few months ago, and I hope you have the opportunity to enter. I'm trying to let ladies know because it really is a great site.

  4. Chris,

    Thanks for stopping by! I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this writing adventure I am on. Come on, agents! I am here, waiting! See, if my aunt can get published than so can I!

    *deep breath* Whew! I had to let off some steam.

    Thanks also for the heads-up on the contest. I'm coming over to check it out. Have plenty of dip and chips ready...

  5. Wow! That's great, fun stuff to find! 1905? Goodness! Just a wonderful bit of stuff! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  6. Suldog,

    I had to share. There isn't much left in memories about my aunt, and this one is spectacular! A 103 year old book needs to be recognized. The mystery surrounding it just makes it even more memorable.


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