Builder discovers note from 1941 hidden in roof with advice for future generations

By Staff

It’s not everyday you stumble across a hidden note from over 80 years ago, but that’s exactly what happened to one builder when carrying out renovations on a historic monument

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A note from the past has been discovered – and people say its message rings truer than ever.

A builder wasn’t expecting to stumble across a handwritten note from over 80 years ago when he started his work day. But as he was carrying out work on St. James’ Church in Antwerp, Belgium, he found a strategically-placed matchbox placed inside an ornament than hung from the ceiling.

When he opened the box he found a note detailing the poor work conditions employees like him had to suffer through, as well as some advice for the future generations that follow. It was dated July 21, 1941.

The incredible find was shared by the City of Antwerp’s official Instagram account back in 2022, with the caption: “Unbelievable. This workman found a note from 1941 in St. James’ Church with a catchy message.”

It was signed by four men; John Janssen, Jul Gyselinck, Louis Chantraine, and Jul Van Hemeldonck, who explain they had worked on the same ceiling 82 years ago. The message written on the back of a work coupon translates: “When this ceiling will have to painted again we will no longer be on this Earth.

“We have to tell the following generations that we didn’t have a happy life. We’ve lived through two wars. One in 1914 and one in 1940, that counts for something eh? We’re working here nearly starving from hunger, they extort us for mere cents for almost no food at all.

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“I want to advise the next generations for when another war comes along. Have a sufficient amount of food in excess like rice, coffee, flour, tobacco, grains, wheat, to keep you alive. Enjoy life to the fullest and if necessary take another wife. The ones who are married: Look after your home! Salut men!”

The astonishing find racked up hundreds of likes on social media as people took to the comments to say they hoped the families of the four men were being traced so they could read the note themselves. One said: “Puts things into perspective when everyone was complaining about 2020.” A second wrote: “What a beautiful story!” While a third joked: “So hoard food and find a mate. Different circumstances, same advice.”

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