Sunday, January 14, 2007

How the records of a boxer from the 1920s ended up in the walls of our 1910 Portland house

I don’t know the how, but I know that with the renovation of our kitchen, the mysterious envelope from a life insurance agency covered in dust and debris was given to me by our contractor. As you know, the demolition has uncovered some great stuff, including this sweet little book. But this? This is the mystery of them all.
Meet Solly Burke. Also known as Sailor Burke, and possibly originally named Henry Dengel.
Solly Burke
Here’s Henry’s professional membership card:
Henry Dengels Membership Card

A collection of newspaper clippings, documenting the boxing fights around the country in the late 1920s and early 1930s of Solly Burke were carefully clipped or torn out of the paper, and eventually placed in the envelope. Take for example...his training with Joe Lewis:
Joe Lewis trained with Solly Burke
And the miscellaneous clippings...
Miscellaneous clipping
Clipping dated May 21, 1925
Another miscellaneous clipping
Here’s an article about Solly Burke..
An article written about boxer Solly Burke

But what’s proving to be really interesting, are the contracts, complete with signatures, dates, fees paid, and who Solly Burke fought. I even know what color his shorts were...
To be continued
P.S. Some of the documents also use the name Sailor Burke. Googling both Sollie and Sailor Burke turns up boxers. Including lots of information about Sailor Burke, and this great photo.
P.P.S. Making this even a little more eerie, I'm related to the name Burke.


Anonymous said...

Wow. LeLo, have you checked whether the Oregon Historical Society has anything about this guy in their biographical files? (In their library)

The only things I have found in my two old 1920s Portland houses or their yards are plastic toys from the 1980s. You are so lucky!

witchtrivets said...

Still nothing cool found in our remodel either. Unless you count pipes in the basement wrapped in newspaper and underpants -- men's briefs, to be exact. Nastiness.

Anyway, that is so cool. An entire history in your walls. I am jealous for sure.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just wow!

Yeah, I'd really want to do further investigating. Wouldn't it be freaky to actually find out you're related to him?

And let me be the first person to mention that that photo of him leaves very little to the imagination.

Kathryn said...

That is oh so very cool.

CrackerLilo said...

How awesome is that?!?!

I'm jealous. I hope I turn up something that cool in a remodel one day.

I bet it's in your hands for a reason.

Monogram Queen said...

Wow you have got to have the coolest remodeling ever! I am laughing at witchtrivets underpants.... hehe...

Anonymous said...

Hey, this is pretty neat.

And the concluding link to that great photo really puts a dramatic [ ! ] to the finish of your post.

He's got a fascinating face, and I think he even looks a bit like you...

-- Mitch

Anonymous said...

I just love the idea that there are little time capsules tucked away in walls of older homes. This is how a great novel or movie would start.

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Sailor/Solly Burke is packing some heat if you get my drift.

Anonymous said...

Apparently, I am not the first (or weirdest) to notice the package- Holy cow Batman, be very afraid!

MissKris said...

I live in a 1912 bungalow in SE and when we had a remodel job done, an envelope postmarked 1941 was found in our dining room wall. Also, when we first bought this house and I was out digging up flowerbeds that hadn't seen the light of day in decades, I found two beautiful old marbles buried deep in the dirt. I sat back on my heels and pondered them as I rolled them around in the palm of my hand...what little boy -- and when? -- had dropped them in play and forgotten about them? Like that HGTV show says, "If Walls Could Talk". Amen to that!