He was hoping to find a rare baseball card or maybe some $100 bills.
Instead, Keith Moser found hundreds of crumpled newspapers from 1949 and 1950 stuffed behind the drywall in his Everett home.
Moser called the newsroom, excited about his discovery of epic old-news proportion.
“I have a 25-foot wall full of Everett Heralds,” he said.
What’s up with that?
For Moser, 69, an avid newspaper reader, it was quite a score, though not one he can cash in on.
“I don’t think they are worth much,” he said.
Worth a story, for sure.
“Would you like red snapper for 29 cents a pound? Fresh cooked crabs, 39 cents each?” he said, reading supermarket prices from the year he was born.
Even more jarring: The illustration of Santa merrily smoking a cigarette in a colorful ad for lighters.
The newspapers were on the outer wall of the garage and bedrooms, and not doing much to keep the place warm.
“We knew there wasn’t much insulation,” said his wife, Anita.
Maybe so, but the fake insulation was real information, served up just the way Moser likes it.
“I still believe in newspapers,” Moser said. “The tactile feel of it, to be able to open the pages up, fold them in half … listen to the rustle of the paper. It’s just not quite the same holding a laptop in the bathroom. Laptops are cold.”
He’s skeptical of digital news.
“Lot of people just look at the computer and swallow everything that’s on the internet,” he said. “I look at it, but it’s mostly like looking at the National Enquirer.”
His favorite part of the find was the color Sunday funnies, which were big broadsheets that took both arms to spread open when he was a kid. A family tradition was to wrap a few presents in the comics.
Back in the day, after the news was stale the papers weren’t banished to the recycle bin.
They were “cheap insulation,” said Dave Doolittle, a construction framer at the Mosers’ home. “It does have some thermal properties.”
Doolittle finds old papers on, and off, the job.
“My house was built in 1911,” he said. “There are papers in the ceilings. They just took the whole paper and laid it right between the rafters. They are full. You can open them and pull them out and go through them.”
Moser said a few others in the neighborhood of 1950s homes have found wadded newspapers stuffed between the studs.
His wall is coming down in a remodel of the home on a quiet dead-end street near Cascade High School, where he graduated in 1967.
The papers include Seattle papers from around the time he was born.
“They are all pretty old and brittle, kind of like me,” said Moser, a Boeing retiree who worked in flight test and delivery.
He bought the 980-square-foot house in 1990 on a first-time homebuyer’s loan for $104,000, “and it was overpriced then,” he said.
But it lacked closet space needed when he and Anita married 10 years ago.
“She says, ‘We’re moving,’” he said. “We compromised.”
The remodel that’s “kind of like camping” started in August. It will almost double the size of the home, giving him room to make model airplanes.
Meantime, he has plenty of reading material from when an issue of The Everett Daily Herald was 5 cents and $3 bought a case of Rainier beer.
A broadsheet measured about 17 inches wide by 24 inches long then, compared to the slimmer 11 by 21 inches now. The Nov. 3, 1949, front page had 19 headlines, including the end of a ban of the U.S. and Britain selling planes to Yugoslavia, the dedication of the new Jackson School on Federal Avenue in Everett and the hanging of a “Young Slayer” in Olympia of a 23-year-man convicted of double murder.
Moser likes the variety of news in the local rag.
“Blurbs from all over the country, even stuff like somebody lost a dog back in Minnesota. Who cares? But it was in the newspaper.”
Moser kept a footlocker of papers, mostly the color funnies.
If nothing else, he has plenty of wrapping paper.