MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — War updates, Nazi soldiers putting up last ditch efforts, Nixon’s resignation and Interstate 81’s dedication. These are all headlines that stretch above the fold of decades-old newspapers found inside a front porch wall accidentally by a local man.
“It is sort of a time capsule,” said homeowner Billy Hendrick, 86. “I haven’t bothered it, there is no reason to. (It’s) hidden in plain sight and amazing how well it kept itself.”
A large majority of the papers discarded in the porch are in good shape.
Some have became delicate and shredded throughout the years from weather and bugs. Hendrick assumes the original homeowner put the papers there after reading them. The Baltimore Sun and The Martinsburg Journal are the two papers that can be identified.
“Imagine getting home from work and sitting (on the porch) reading the paper and then just dropping them in,” Hendrick said.
Hendrick, sitting a wooden rocking chair, points to the east and shows the direction the sun comes up and to the west where the sun sets.
“I had a lot of good sit downs here after work,” Hendrick said.
The house was built in 1932. Hendrick, the third owner of the house bought, it in early summer 1957. He and his wife, Peggy, 85 lived and raised their five children there.
“We have six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren now,” Hendrick said.
The house sits on 28 arces of land near the Opequon Creek off Douglas Grove Road.
Hendrick said that since he purchased the house in 1957 he has only added two papers to the collection: The Martinsburg Journal’s August 8, 1974 evening edition with the headline “Aide Says President Resigning, Nixon to Air at 9,” and October 18, 1966, “I-81 Dedication Scheduled Tomorrow.”
“They were things that I thought was important,” Hendrick said. “I don’t know why I put those papers in there. I have other papers upstairs, but I thought these were important.”
Hendrick added that he has seen a lot of history being made in the area including seeing Interstate 81, Musselman and Hedgesville High Schools being built.
The first owner of Hendrick’s house also built the house next door, where his daughter currently resides, Hendrick said.
Hendrick, born in 1930, grew up in Bluefield, West Virginia. He attended a one-room school until the eighth grade.
“I like the idea of a one-room school, you learn by repetition,” Hendricks said. “You can make learning fun.”
Hendrick volunteered for the Army serving during the Korean War.
“I was in Alaska and I still remember my serial number, RA13338310,” Henrick recounted.
Hendrick said he believes history repeats itself with wars, elections, political scandals and people can learn from the past.
“The headlines on these papers are similar to today’s headlines,” Hendrick added.
Staff writer Todd Bowman can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 128 or on Twitter @todd_bowman87.