Sunday, April 22, 2012

LEFT INSIDE: Cryptic Notes on a Slip of Paper

When I found this inside a book last year I couldn't help but hear strains of The Twilight Zone theme.  I know my last name is hardly an uncommon one - especially in this part of Illinois where a wealthy family named Norris once lived who gave a  lot of money to have their name put on some buildings on the campus of Northwestern University and elsewhere.

Regardless, it was still a tad eerie to find it.  There is no one named Norris living at 255 S Marion anymore. It happens to be the address for a YMCA in Oak Park, IL.  The other address in England., but just who KW might be is unknown.  The list of strange numbers and the probable left and right references for the Ls and Rs is an utter mystery to me.  An exercise regimen perhaps?


  1. Nifty idea for a mystery, don't you think? Finding your name and mysterious jottings inside a used book?

  2. John: I am not much of an internet detective. I have no suggestions on the meaning of any part of the paper.

    It looks like you to retain:

    1.) A document examiner to examine the writing;
    2.) A forensic scientist to test the paper and check for any DNA;
    3.) A genealogist to consider Chicago connections;
    4.) An English postal historian to determine the English connections;
    5.) An Engish genealogist to work out the English background; and,
    6.) A co-ordinator to handle all the experts for you.

  3. HA! Bill, I have no budget for that kind of "investigation." I like guessing and surmising. Much cheaper.

  4. Are you sure you want unsubstantiated guesswork and vague surmises? :)

    The book that contained the note was the property of a policeman and the scribbles were penned during the four days that this unknown officer was part of a stakeout team to observe the home of Norris, a well-known, but almost uncatchable, thief (specialized in pinching rare and valuable books) and the notes (his own version of short hand) were mnemonics for his reports.

    For example: April 11 1-2 (L) probably means that the suspect left his home at 1:02 and April 12 3-5 (R) that he returned the next day at 3:05, etc.

    The circles around the L and R probably denotes that the time of departure or return was during the day or the night. I suspect that the first three were late-night returns/departures while the last one (10-12 = 10:12) was probably early in the morning – which is probably when they arrested him when he came home with the loot of his latest night-light adventure.

    E. Yoriss is obviously an alias of Norris and the address in England probably one of his hidey holes or even the address of one of his fences.

  5. On a whim, I googled that British postal code and found a Sporting goods business (Humber Runner) at 229 Boothferry Road, in the city of Hessie, county of North Humberside (isn't there a Smiths song that refers to Humberside?)

    As for the cryptic numbers, I'm guessing they refer to 12 tasks, broken down to three tasks per day over a four-day period. The 12 labors of Hercules perhaps?

  6. TomCat -

    I need to come up with a some sort of prize for you! Loved that. Although I hate to be killjoy and ruin a bit of your detection by telling you that is not E. Yorris but "E Yorks" for East Riding Yorkshire.

    Deb -

    It's Hessle in East Riding of Yorkshire. The postal code HU13 9BB gave me that. Google maps gave me further proof.

  7. Here's what I could find:

    --The address in England is a home that last sold Sep. 2011.
    --Reverse lookup is not permitted in England due to privacy concerns.
    --There is also a Norris Recreational Center at the same ZIP code in Illinois (any connection?)

    Other clues:
    --A circle around an L or R is found in medical shorthand, so the writer may have been a physician
    --There a 6 "things" designated "left" and 6 designated "right". Does this suggest pairing ?

    Perhaps someone in England handmade ivory peg-legs and these are the days they arrived in the mail at the Y?

  8. Doc -

    Who knew that this anonymous slip of paper would genreate such creative thinking and diligent Googling? I told you that Norris family had their name plastered on everything around here. But that center you mention is in St. Charles (60174), not Oak Park (60302).

  9. Is there anything on the back to give some context? And in what book was it left and what was the publication date of the book?

    /Puts on tech-writer's hat from many years ago.

  10. Todd --

    Esoteric SF allusions will not sway me from me the belief that this was a sign from the world beyond! The Illuminati are everywhere! Pass me the Kool-Aid!

    "All things are connected." -- the Chain Letter in The Water Engine

    Deb --

    It was in some mystery novel I bought last year. Can't recall the title. One of many I bought at my annual trip to Renaissance Books in Milwaukee. The publication date of the book would have nothing to do with the slip of paper which most likely is very recent.