Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

May 5, 2013

Secret connects house's former, current occupants

SUTTONS BAY — A downstate family had a mystery on their hands after discovering a letter hidden in the ceiling of their Royal Oak home until clues in the letter and some online research led them to Sandra Serra Bradshaw of Suttons Bay.

It was Feb. 18, 1966, when an imaginative 12-year-old girl with a penchant for romance penned the salutation, “Dear To Whom It May Concern,” and went on to describe her life, her house and her affinity for history and dogs in general — her collie, Bonnie Lass, in particular.

“I was in the sixth grade when I wrote that,” said Bradshaw, now a writer by profession. “I guess it was my love of Nancy Drew mysteries that prompted me to ask my stepfather if I could put the letter in the ceiling before he sealed it off during a remodeling project.”

And that’s where it remained for 47 years — until this past January. That’s when the Veit family, who have lived in the house for 16 years, removed a ceiling tile to replace a broken light fixture in the nearly 100-year-old home and discovered the letter. Curious about who wrote it and why it was hidden there, Liz Veit searched the Internet, came across Bradshaw’s website and contacted her.

“I searched for the letter writer because I wanted to see what kind of person she’d turned out to be,” said Veit. “Hiding a letter inside a ceiling seems to be an activity tied to someone with an adventurous heart — someone who embraces mystery and romance. When I found Sandra, I was pleased to learn that she turned out to be an adventurous writer (with collies) after all.”

Bradshaw said she’d almost forgotten that part of her life.

“It’s a bit surreal to open something and be reconnected to that time in my life,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

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