This story was last updated in November 2020.
Stumbling upon a handwritten note in between crumpled pages of an old notebook or tucked away into a secret corner of a building can be quite an exciting find. One workman discovered a hidden note in the roof of a church from 79 years ago, and it surprisingly contains some words of wisdom for future generations.
While working on the restoration of St. James Church in Antwerp, Belgium, to protect the structure, a worker found a matchbox that was tucked inside an ornament hanging from the ceiling of the roof of the church.
On opening the matchbox, the worker discovered a handwritten note that was dated back to July 21, 1941. The message that was written on the back of a work coupon provided an insight into life back then and also has some useful wisdom for future generations.
City of Antwerp’s official Instagram account shared the note, which was signed by four men who worked in the past: John Janssen, Jul Gyselinck, Louis Chantraine, and Jul Van Hemeldonck.
The caption read: “This workman found a note from 1941 in St. James’s Church with a catchy message.”
Meanwhile, according to The Mirror, the translation of the message begins, “When this ceiling will have to painted again we will no longer be on this earth.”
The message further goes on to explain the conditions these workers had to live in. “We have to tell the following generations that we didn’t have a happy life. We’ve lived through two wars. One in 1914 and one in 1940, that counts for something eh?” the note reads. “We’re working here nearly starving from hunger, they extort us for mere cents for almost no food at all.”
Before signing off, the workers who wrote the note left advice for future generations, writing: “I want to advise the next generations for when another war comes along. Have a sufficient amount of food in excess like rice, coffee, flour, tobacco, grains, wheat, to keep you alive.”
They finally concluded by writing: “Enjoy life to the fullest and if necessary take another wife. The ones who are married: Look after your home! Salut men!”
Unsurprisingly, this rare find when posted on Instagram on Oct. 26 went viral garnering some 4,000 reactions and amassing lots of comments from social media users.
One translated comment read: “I hope they found the family of those men. Would make a nice family keepsake.”
While another wrote, “What a story! A moving message from the past …”
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