Over the summer, one of our Forum interns found a postcard lying on the sidewalk. “Dear Justin,” it read, “Charley was happy to finally hear from you. I know he misses his own ‘father figure.’ Please come home. P.S. I am still in love with you.” It was just the kind of note you might come across in Davy Rothbart’s FOUND Magazine, a collection and celebration of fascinating forgotten and discarded items. Rothbart, a longtime “This American Life” contributor, author, and filmmaker, joins us to discuss his favorite found treasures, from love letters to old family photos. What is the weirdest or most interesting item you have found?

Davy Rothbart, co-founder of FOUND Magazine, contributor to "This American Life" and the author of "My Heart is an Idiot"

  • Susanna

    Two found items: the first a posting by my ex-husband on our 40th high school reunion website. We had not communicated since our divorce nearly 20 years earlier, and I had not attended the reunion. He wrote in his autobiographical notes for the reunion that his behavior toward me during our marriage was unforgivable. It was a sweet note to find, almost like a letter in a bottle.
    The second was a carbon copy of a letter my mother wrote to my father in their 60s, begging him to end an affair he was having, referring to other affairs in the past, and offering him the opportunity to divorce if he no longer loved her. My mother had destroyed all correspondence between them before she died, and this letter, folded double in a file of unrelated papers, was, I am certain, never meant to be found. It was a terrible blow to find it, as I had never known or suspected that my father had been unfaithful, and oh, how it would have helped me in my own marital difficulties if my mother had shared hers.

  • Stephanie H

    Funny you should ask! Just YESTERDAY I was at a local university library seeking a book. I literally had to go to the farthest corner of the library for my particular book. Very isolated from the rest of the patrons. Once I got to the right shelf,while I was flipping through a text, I found a slip of paper left between the pages with these words in bright red ink – “I lost my virginity right at this spot!” That’s it. No more details. I am not even certain about the gender, given the hand-writing. But given the location in the library, I believe that a university student did indeed lose their virginity in that very spot. I hope it was a positive experience for both participants.

  • reeta

    Voicemail messages left on my answering machine used to make my imagination run wild …and inspired me to write a piece called “when a stranger calls.’
    Note that this was written 13 years ago, when we had landlines and answering machines.
    Now, cell phones, spam texts and people calling the wrong cell number repeatedly…these just annoy me.:-)

  • Jon Gold

    I appreciate these found notes, but why!? Is there a value, or lesson here? Perhaps an anthropological record for research? I don’t know…help me want to read these!

  • thames

    Very difficult listening to this guy. So many people today talk fast and don’t say anything of substance and I find Davy to be completely uninteresting. I have no interest in his stories. Certainly, KQED can do better than this.

  • tymcode

    Do you have a system for organizing all this stuff? Can you just type “San Francisco” into a search box and get all the items you brought today? Or do you just rely on memory?

  • Sadie McGarvey

    This is lovely. I think it reminds us that everyone’s story has value.

  • Sylvia Hughes

    We were on vacation in Antigua about 10 years ago. At English harbour, a charity was selling old books, and we found one by Dean Acheson. My husband is a historian, and wanted to purchase it. Then we found a letter from Dean explaining why he could not visit his friend in Antigua as usual. Various committments, including a meeting, I think in Venice, with heads of state. But principally, because of the Bay of Pigs fiasco–a quote, regarding the Kennedys, ” Intelligence is no substitute for common sense.”

    Very acerbic comments re:various heads of state and current events. We have given the letter to Yale

    PS I made him pay $20.00 for the book

  • Joanne

    Enjoying show and concept of some sweet finds. But I feel embarrassed for you to have shared the guy in new Yorkshire nite from Julia who only wanted to be his friend. It felt intrusive and a little mean

  • ami zins

    when i was a kid i lost my copy of the book The Red Balloon, about a balloon that follows a little boy in Paris. a few years later my sister’s summer camp councilor pulled out my book to read at story time. we knew it was my book because it had the inscription from my dad’s friend who had given it to me!

  • William Robathan

    This is primarily an urban phenomena. Notes drop like detritus. We don’t tell the strangers we pass our passions and sorrows. These notes found grimy in gutters evidence our souls to strangers.

    Each an intimacy. I save them in a covered straw basket, each singing a song, each song an old song, the same song, and all the songs our chorus.

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