What is it?

What is it?
What is it?

I was cleaning one of my rooms and found an old tape case I converted into a briefcase I used for carrying player info for role-playing back in the day. I know I acquired the case from my sister, and I also know that I ripped the tape holder portion out of the container to allow books and papers to fit. Once this was done, I was left with a cardboard base for stability and a material holder that was a makeshift briefcase precursor to a messenger bag.

I know I had this bag sitting around, but had no idea what was in it until I opened it the other day. I was shifting things around, so I had better access to the rest of the room but made a path to the two bookcases that house all of my old role-playing books. Once I had access, I was able to reach the case and took it aside to open it.

Peeking in, I saw two books, a portfolio, and sheets of paper. I immediately realized what this was, and knowing that, took the top book out to investigate what the documents were.  As I held the book, I noticed it was covered with something. Having had papers in Florida for years, I realize that they are susceptible to being eaten by bugs or deteriorating due to age. Feeling the grit that was on the book did not please me, and I decided I would wait for another day to deal with this. Time would not change the fact that the books were damaged.

Today was that other day. I opened the case in my garage, in case there were bugs in there, they can roam in an environment I would not mind splattering them. There was a pack of cards in the receptacle that seemed the easiest to access. Pulling the cards out, I noticed that they were covered in the same grit as the book I felt the other day. It was all black and came off without much effort. Once wiping the blackness off the cards, they were as good as new. I had two dice in the case as well, and they were also covered. Doing the same thing as the cards, I cleaned them. Some of the pips held on to the dust and required a bit of air to clean, but they too were good as new. I repeated this with all the books and papers in the case and was left with the dust in the corner above.

I also realized that two sheets of paper that were in the case, once seen above, was now blank. I recalled that this was a place I was keeping my characters from role-playing and I used to write them in pencil so they could be altered as needed.

So, the question is: Is the black grit the remnants of what used to be on the pages? If that is the case, does this mean pencils are not as a permanent record as suggested compared to other forms of record keeping? What have you written in pencil that you thought might last forever?

Now I’m concerned about writing notes I took over the years. I know the pages had the weight of the books on top of them at some point and the impressions of writing were no longer there. I also know that they are now blank and whatever might have been on there is gone.

Comments are welcome. What do you think?

Default Comments (6)

6 thoughts on “What is it?”

  1. I think the grit was big poop and you left blank paper in the case. If you had written on the paper you would still see something on it even if it was faint. You would at least see the impression of the writing.

    1. Jack,

      It totally seems like graphite. I have seen bug and lizard “poop” and this looks nothing like it. Both pages that were in there that looked like they had writing on them, were completely blank and no traces of anything. I’m gonna scan them and check that way. Sometimes things show up again.

      Lates. . .

      1. You should taste it.
        You’ll know for sure if it is graphite or critter droppings.
        Let us know the results of this test.

  2. I just browsed some of my old papers from high school, and none of them were blank, but some of the ones written in pencil were pretty faded. I suspect that if storage conditions had been different, there might have been more fading. I’ve never seen a page go completely blank, but I don’t know which conditions might affect the longevity of writing.

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