“Leave No Trace”

I recently bought and used hooks to hang the various workout bands in my personal “gym.” I tried out Command Strips(no I don’t get any money for saying this) which are designed to be removed without leaving a mark on the wall. They are touted as leaving no trace. I haven’t had to remove them so far, so I can’t vouch for their ability, but it did make me think about the idea of not leaving a mark.

People love to leave their marks. Bathroom walls fill with phone numbers, slang comments, jokes and initials. Lovers carve their initials on trees. Soldiers couldn’t resist leaving “Kilroy was here.” I recently saw a film about the Vikings which showed graffiti left by a soldier hundreds of years ago etched into a stone railing.

Throughout my school years, we were handed textbooks in the fall which we handed back before summer vacation. We wrote our names in the front plate and laughed about who had used the books in previous years. We signed each others’ yearbooks and autograph books. Over and again we were determined to leave our mark, signifying that we were there.

When we had to replace our bathtub, we found that the chestnut beams supporting the tub had pencil marks from the carpenter as he built the house in 1929. He died the next year, ice fishing down the road, but his mark remained, hidden for us to find 85 years later. And I did pause and think of him, realizing he too once lived in the house we now think of as ours.

40 thoughts on ““Leave No Trace”

  1. I saw some very old graffiti in Greece, and in Rome too. Most British castles have things written on the walls of the dungeons by prisoners, and they date back to the 11th century, in most cases. It is a strange connection through time to think of them occupying that same space, and scratching news of their fate on a wall for me to read almost a thousand years later.
    Now we have blogs. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. I love this story. When we moved to New England, we bought an old house. The original bookcases were left (lucky us), and on the back was the name of the owner, in beautiful script. No one today has that handwriting. Leaving our mark is very special.

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      1. Yes!! The script alphabet banner above the chalkboard was always there. My grandmother reminded us it was harder for her, as they used the script writing in the McGuffey reader. She still had hers from first grade! That would have been mid 1890’s. How cool is that!

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  3. What fun! I never though of leaving marks where you’ve lived.

    Many years ago I read that someday people will be able to listen to walls of houses and hear conversations of years past. The article said a scientist had put a stethoscope to lava rocks and heard screams of the people who had been killed by the volcano. I want to leave sound marks in this house. How I hope laughter and piano music will float back years from now to make someone smile!

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  4. What I find myself doing more of as I’ve got older is thinking about what kind of mark I’ve made to contribute something positive to the world.

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  5. On our basement wall are a series of marks made to record the height of a certain little girl, now 20 years old, as she grew up (along with the dates the marks were made). The first mark is dated 3/17/04. The memories are ageless.

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  6. When I attended mass before this lockdown, I used to sit on the same pew every time, and I always see these small carvings written with names and phone numbers on the pew. Marking church properties is a no-no for me, sadly though some people think it is a public property.

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  7. About the only marks I’ve left in homes is where I was trying to shift something…and scraped along the wall is either the torn wall paper or a dent in the paintwork. Now I have to be somewhat more careful as I live in a rented property although I can see where previous tenants have left a mark or two…

    I use command hooks as well, along with “bluetack”

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  8. Leaving one’s mark, such a wonderful idea. I signed the underside of my college dorm room desk for that very purpose, letting someone know that I was there. Leaving our marks is a wonderful concept.

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      1. But was it permanent? You don’t want your ‘mark’ to be erased. In my case, my ‘mark’ was demolished when they redid the rooms. Now it’s on a piece of scrap wood in a dump. But it still endures…😂

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