OCEAN CITY — Power drills whirled as construction continued inside Scott Fisher and Magdalena Kernan’s new Ocean City home last week.
The engaged couple said they were always looking for a fixer-upper, but they found something unexpected a month ago when they started their renovations.
A stack of 47-year-old love letters sat hidden above two layers of drywall in their hallway ceiling.
Fisher uncovered the letters, but he originally thought they were just part of the rubble falling around him.
“I started digging even further, and I’m reading a couple things. I’m reading a couple letters, and I realize there’s a pattern to things,” Fisher said.
The letters were addressed to an 18-year-old man who had just started training at the Coast Guard base in Cape May in 1972. Each one was handwritten and included correspondence from two different women at the time.
The letters ranged from mundane conversations to romantic musings.
“Without a doubt your love for me is a lasting love,” one of the women scrawled in pen.'
Some even contained Polaroid pictures that the women sent, which serve as a window into another decade.
In one of the glossy images, one of the women stands inside what looks like a living room full of ‘70s décor.
She faces the camera straight on, wearing a white peasant blouse and knee-length red skirt. Her hand rests on a wood-framed television with a large black dial. The glare of the camera flash bursts in the circular mirror behind her.
Kernan, who is herself a professional photographer, got a kick out of the simple pose, thinking about how photography has evolved.
She also likes the simple note that accompanied the letter. In it, the woman asks her love if he likes her new glasses.
“For us this is our first house that we’ve bought and finding the letter is just a sign for both of us that we’re in the right place,” Kernan said. “Especially as photographers, finding photos inside the letters was incredible because our job as photographers is to preserve moments.”
The two 27-year-olds both have professional jobs — Magdalena finished law school and works as a clerk for an appellate judge, and Scott is a counselor at an elementary school in Cape May.
But they also run their own wedding photography company based in Ocean City. They view their finding of these letters as a perfect connection.
“We love love,” Magdelanna said. “We’re a part of all these love stories all the time.”
The couple plans to get married themselves at the end of July.
They found other interesting items inside the stacks, including a 1972 postcard for Ocean City and stamps depicting President Dwight D. Eisenhower that only cost 8 cents.
“We’re mailing out our wedding invitations now. I wish we could use these,” Kernan joked.
The hole in the ceiling where they found the letters a month ago is closed now, but their obsession continues.
“I want to ask him so many questions,” Kernan said. “If he is ever open to it, I feel like that would be such a cool follow up story.”
Kernan documented the renovation and the discovery on her Instagram @magsymooo, which has more than 18,000 followers. She said she got countless messages asking her for more details about the letters.
Kernan wants to know how the letters ended up in the drywall and would love to hear more about the history of the house that she and Fisher plan to start their new life in. She’d also like to return the memories.
“These are so special. It was a time in their lives, and you didn’t have duplicates back then,” she said.
While she still searches for answers, she says that the letters have inspired them in other ways.
Kernan decided to go out and buy her own letter heads so they can start putting an effort into writing more letters.
“It was really special to see how much time people had to put in back then and how meaningful these things were. It’s pretty inspiring,” Fisher said.
The discovery also reassured Kernan about her choices as a photographer moving forward.
While she might have questioned her choice to shoot in classic film, these letters solidified her choice to use the medium she always believed would never go out of style.
“It’s timeless and lasts forever,” Kernan said.