Imagine opening a drawer and finding the scribbled secrets, hopes, confessions, grief and joy of hundreds of strangers you’ll never meet.
If you happen to be seated at two particular antique tables inside Adam’s Mountain Café, and pull open the letter drawers, you’ll find a kaleidoscope of the human experience. Inside are hundreds of scraps of notebook paper, cafe receipts, paper napkins and the occasional business card covered with jotted-down notes to future customers.
There are poems: “A haiku about being an adult: I am so tired, Where did all my money go, My back is hurting.”
Cautiously happy couples on dates: “Betty + I just hit one month which has been comprised of about 15 dates or more. Betty is like a tall glass of water in the morning and she tastes delicious. I’m a giant goofball really + it feels good to feel wanted again.”
Philosophy: “Some of the best moments in life are the ones you can’t tell anyone about.”
Quotes: “If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is... I was made for another world,” C.S. Lewis.
There are details of what they ate, loved and recommend (“Sam was here and had really good French toast. You should try it!”), how they plan to spend their day, and hopeful flirts: “The guy who was the host was the cutest boy we have ever seen,” wrote “2 girls from Texas.”
And then there are the much more vulnerable scribbles. The person still getting over their ex-boyfriend, but feeling better. The woman who gave up a baby for adoption weeks before she bared her heart in the note. The 14-year-old leaving Colorado Springs because his dad got shot in a home invasion robbery. The person who moved to the area to escape an addiction and wound up finding love and getting engaged.
“I love it. It gives us a real sense of place,” says Adam’s owner Farley McDonough, who estimates the letter drawer collection stands at around 500 pieces. “It shows Adam’s has a very loyal following and that we mean something in the community, that somebody would take the time to leave something like this. And probably comes back to see if it’s still here.”
After beginning as a hostess in 1991, then working her way up to server and eventually night manager, McDonough bought Adam’s in 2001. About six years later, she decided on a whim to open the letter drawers in the two tables. Only one table is now in the dining room. The other is in the basement due to the pandemic’s limits on seating capacity. The contents surprised and delighted her.
“Oh my gosh,” she says. “I had no idea people had left notes.”
She enjoys watching customers open the drawers, find the treasure trove and quickly add their own memory to the growing stacks. Every now and then she and her staff have to sift through and remove the not so family-friendly scraps, such as crude drawings: “We want to stay PG,” she says.
Her favorite letter so far?
“It was from somebody who used to celebrate their anniversary here with his wife,” says McDonough. “She passed away and he came in on their anniversary and left a note. I think it was a note that they kept filling in. He said missing my wife on this special anniversary day.”
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