By Billy Wagness, CBS News
DULUTH, Minn. (WCCO) – In the digital age of email and social media, getting a letter in the mail may take a little longer than, say, getting a text.
But no one expects to suddenly receive a postcard dated all the way back to 1945.
When Tyler Scouton checked his mailbox on West 9th Street Tuesday, one item – a postcard, to be exact – stood out.
“And I look at the back, and it looked modern, it looked new. The name on there was somebody else’s – Ms. T. Gorkoski,” Scouton said.
Both Scouton and his partner Kelly Mullan automatically dismissed it as a hoax, or ad.
“People try and do advertising campaigns that are intentionally vague, so that you’ll have to go online and find out what’s what,” Mullan said.
But according to the postcard’s date, it was anything but new. The postmark on the card, which featured a picture of a World War II-era submarine, the U.S.S. Cuttlefish, was dated April 23, 1945. Scribbled on the back was a personal message.
“[It reads], ‘Hi, folks! So far I’ve survived two weeks of boat training. Boy Scout camping was more rigorous than this. The Navy might be alright, but not for civilians. The confinement is bad. – Len.’ [It's ] addressed to Ms. T Gorkoski, 117 W. 9th St., Duluth, MN,” Scouton said.
Before Tuesday was over, Scouton was busy going through family trees, census reports and the deed for his house, tracing the names backward on the mystery postcard. Mrs. Gorkoski, or Sophia, was the wife of Thomas Gorkoski, who bought the house in 1915.”
“So I ended up coming up to here [on the deed and found] Thomas Gorkoski and Sophia, his wife, and I’m like ‘that’s it! I found it,’” he said.
The writer was Leonard Alexander Nesgoda, Sgt. 1st Class for the U.S. Navy, trainee on the U.S.S. Cuttlefish at the Naval Station in Great Lakes, Illinois, and neighbor of the Gorkoskis.
As farfetched as this story sounds, Mullan says her friend had a similar experience with a years-old package that had apparently been stuck behind a machine at the post office.
“And when it was removed, they put a stamp on it and mailed it,” Mullan said.
Now Scouton and Mullan are searching for the postcard’s rightful owners, or at least descendants, since Nesgoda and the Gorkoskis have died, according to their research.
Scouton has since set up a website for the postcard, pictures included, along with all the latest information they’ve uncovered in their journey to unlock the secrets of this postcard from the past.
Want to get in on solving this mystery? Check out postcardfromyesterday.com.