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Writing on the wall: Homeowner discovers message under wallpaper

A sentimental message scrawled on the wall by a Charlottetown teen 50 years ago was revealed last week by the current homeowner. The author, now 65 was, invited back to see what he had written.

Donna Hurry invited the author, now 65, to see what he wrote when he lived in the house as a teen

Donna Hurry shows Cyril Armstrong the message he had written when he lived in the Charlottetown home as a teen. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Donna Hurry was peeling off a piece of wallpaper in her Charlottetown home when something caught her eye.

A word.

And another word. And another.

"So I kept picking at it and it just kept developing into this big message," she said.

The handwritten message spoke about how much the family back then had loved the old house and how they hoped the new owners would love it just as much.

"In this Last Testimonial, I, Cyril Beverley Armstrong, do hereby state that this household was well pleased with this sound lodging. I, my father HB, mother EG, brothers Nigel and Michael, my sisters, Wendy, Daphne, and Heather also share in my opinions. I wish that this coming generation of family will also fully reach enjoyment here. It does my heart good to see an old home have precedence over a new one.Yours, Home Sweet Home."

'Loved the house so much'

Hurry said she was touched by the discovery.

"It was very sentimental to me that somebody took the time out and wrote that, when we love this place so much and you could tell that this person loved the house so much, too," she said. "It really meant a lot."

A P.E.I. homeowner peels back wallpaper to find a message to the future 0:58

Hurry also liked the line where the author was pleased that whoever found the message under the wallpaper many years into the future must have chosen to renovate, rather than buy.

It was very sentimental to me that somebody took the time out and wrote that.- Donna Hurry

"I think the person that lived here knew that you had to put a lot of work into an older home to live here, so that that meant a lot to me, too."

Perhaps not surprisingly on close-knit P.E.I., Hurry actually knew the Armstrong family that had lived in the McGill Avenue back in the 1960s.

She decided to invite Cyril Armstrong, now 65, to see the message he wrote on the wall when he was around 15 years old.

Hurry says she plans to preserve the message, and won't paint or wallpaper over it. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Armstrong said he couldn't recall writing the message, though he remembered he would often help his mom wallpaper. "It's like something crazy I would do."

After reading the words aloud, Armstrong chuckled.

'Clean and concise'

"That would be typical of me. I couldn't just say, 'Date. Time. Cyril.' No, I'd have to have this long sort of Shakespearean soliloquy stuck on the wall.

"It could be something awful and scatalogical but no, I kept it very clean and concise."

Cyril Armstrong says he was 'flooded with memories' when he went back to see the message he wrote in the home 50 years ago.

When Hurry greeted Armstrong at the front door, and led him upstairs to the alcove where he got his first view of the scrawling on the wall, he was "flooded with memories."

"Well, I'm just about as much verbiage now as I was then," he said.

Armstrong says the writing was 'typical of me. I couldn't just say, 'Date. Time. Cyril.' No, I'd have to have this long sort of Shakespearean soliloquy stuck on the wall.' (Pat Martel/CBC)

Hurry told Armstrong she was overwhelmed by his message written so long ago.

"It really touched my heart because you're so sincere and I know when you wrote it so many years ago, you were sincere then, too, and you put a lot of thought into it."

Armstrong imagined he was probably helping his mother hang wallpaper in the alcove, when she left to go make supper. He saw his chance.

Cyril Armstrong reads the words out loud that he had scrawled on a wall 50 years ago as a teen. (Pat Martel/CBC)

"There was that free wall and I thought, 'My gosh, here's my time. Here's my place and I'm darn well going to do this."

Hurry said she's not going to wallpaper or paint over the writing. "I'm glad that it's here and I'm going to preserve it."

The best part of the message, she said, are the last three words.

"Home Sweet Home, because you really feel at home here and you knew somebody that lived here before you felt the same way."

About the Author

Pat Martel

Pat Martel has worked with CBC P.E.I. for three decades, mostly with Island Morning — from a writer-broadcaster to a producer. This year, Pat joined the web team with an eye to create great video. Pat also runs an adult coed soccer league in Stratford. He always welcomes great story ideas that are visually appealing. pat.martel@cbc.ca