Kettering couple unearths real-life story behind letter found under Oakwood bathroom

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Credit: Amelia Robinson

Hidden things unearthed can lead down tunnels.

That's the case with a mysterious letter found under a bathtub when Frank and Kathy Hollingsworth renovated their then-Oakwood home, 420 Ridgwood Ave., in 2008.

The letter dated July 20, 1920, from a man named Will to a woman named Rose is the subject of "Fifth and Ludlow" a soon-to-be released podcast by freelance radio producer and podcaster George Drake Jr. 

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“In the letter, a meeting was supposed to take place with two people, the person who wrote the letter and someone else, “Drake said. “It seems almost intentionally vague. The person who wrote it didn’t want others to know what it was about.”

Two envelopes were also found under the bathtub, a fixture original to the five-bedroom, colonial-style home constructed in 1927.

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“It really is the content of the letter that piques everyone’s attention,” Drake said. “You could make up your own story.”

On and off over two years, Drake led a team that includes his wife, Ruth Reveal, and a farmer named Jessi Sievers on a quest to piece together the real-life story behind the letter. 

A public, interactive open house for the project is planned for 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, in the Dayton Metro Library’s Bassani Theater, 215 E. Third St.

The first episode of the five-part series is set to be released Dec. 2.

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The show includes interviews with a list of Dayton-area residents and representatives from Dayton History, The Requarth Co. and the United States Postal Service.


Ruth Reveal is best friends with Frank and Kathy Hollingsworth's daughter Torey.

Torey showed Reveal and her husband the  intriguing letter in 2014.

It was a novel item.

“They like to show it people,” Reveal, a Dayton native and director of education at Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, explained.

She and her husband, a Chicago native, met while in graduate school at Goldsmiths, University of London.

They now live in Kettering.

Researching the story behind the letter helped connect Drake to the community, his wife said.

“I was worried he wouldn’t like it (Dayton), but he loves it. He totally bought into everything about Dayton,” Reveal said.

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