Couple Restoring Old House Find WW2 Scrapbook in the Trash Revealing Tragic Love Story

A couple stumbled across an incredible scrapbook from the Second World War, in a home they're restoring, which detailed a tragic love story.

Kevin and Laine Berry have been carefully restoring properties for 20 years, and have six active projects, as well as their own 1909 house, in Conway, Arkansas.

One of them is in Monticello, built in 1896, which the couple bought with plans for a "full rehabilitation" over 18 months.

Despite transforming homes for two decades, Kevin told Newsweek they'd never come across anything as comprehensive as the contents of a trash bag they found in the residence.

A bulging scrapbook detailed the life of Marjorie Mae Ingram, born on February 1, 1921, according to her obituary in the local paper, Arkansasonline.com.

The Berrys found photos, newspaper clippings, telegrams and letters spanning her early years, her education and her relationship with Clifford L. Fluitt, who became her fiancé.

But before they got their hands on the keys, Kevin claimed a court battle dragged on for years regarding the house, which was eventually put up for auction and its contents sold.

By the time they owned it, Kevin described what was left, saying: "After the estate sale anything that remained in the home was pushed into a large pile in the dining room which we were told was trash.

"We were told to rent a dumpster and just throw it away, but we've been doing this too long to do that. We picked through each piece of 'trash,' and made TONS of discoveries, one of which was a trash-bag labeled 'Ingram Memories.'

"When we opened it we found the items you see in the TikTok—and yes, we had NO idea that there had been a first love in Marjorie's life; we assumed it was a memory book about she and her eventual husband Elza, who we knew had also served very briefly in WW2."

Screengrab from @ourrestorationnation’s video.
Screengrab from @ourrestorationnation’s video. Marjorie Mae Ingram was born on February 1 1921, and passed away aged 90 on April 9, 2011. @ourrestorationnation

A TikTok video shared to their account, @ourrestorationnation, detailed the incredible find, which included a haul of sentimental jewelry, including Fluitt's pilot's "wings," which Ingram was pictured wearing.

The first clip, posted earlier this month, was seen more than 800,000 times as Laine summarized the contents.

She said: "Inside this abandoned house, in this huge pile of trash, we found this trash bag. Inside the trash bag we found this scrapbook, which belonged to Marjorie Mae Ingram.

"What we discovered is this scrapbook is filled with her memories, of her first sweetheart, and their engagement during World War 2.

"She was engaged to Clifford LaVerne Fluitt, and he was an Avenger pilot, here we have their wedding announcement. You'll note the date is left blank, as no one was quite sure when he was going to get leave to come home and marry his best girl.

"It was later determined they would marry on September 1st." A newspaper clipping indicates they became engaged on August 6, 1944, with the wedding scheduled the following year.

Screengrab from @ourrestorationnation’s video.
Screengrab from @ourrestorationnation’s video. Ingram kept treasures given by Fluitt, including her engagement ring. @ourrestorationnation

Fluitt was one of five brothers fighting in the war. He was the only pilot, and part of a bombing raid that sank a Japanese ship, the Yamato, which went down in April 7 1945.

But Ingram received word her husband-to-be had gone missing during an "important tactical mission" in the North Pacific, on July 14, 1945, just weeks before their wedding, and the end of the war in the Pacific. He was 24, according to FindaGrave.com.

Laine went on to say the documents revealed Fluitt received the Naval Cross for his "bravery in action."

In a follow-up video, Laine, who also shares the couple's restoration to their YouTube account, Our Restoration Nation, added: "At this time Marjorie Mae spent hours at her piano, playing Clair de Lune over and over in her grief."

It seems Ingram kept all the correspondence relating to her first love, and as the Berrys delved deeper, they also uncovered she had kept his dog tags, his wings, his Anchor and his second lieutenant bars.

"And most surprising of all, her engagement ring, which she kept for 70-plus years," she added.

Screengrab from @ourrestorationnation’s video.
Screengrab from @ourrestorationnation’s video. A scrapbook uncovered Ingram’s tragic first love, pilot Clifford Fluitt who died weeks before their wedding. @ourrestorationnation

Laine speculated Ingram and Fluitt began their relationship around her high school senior year. "She waited seven years before marrying Elza Bond, and they were married 62 years," she added.

Ingram passed away in 2011, aged 90, while Bond, later becoming Judge Bond, passed away in 2014, aged 86, according to his obituary in Arkansas Online. The pair didn't have any children.

Kevin, who's been married to his wife for 25 years, told Newsweek: "We were stunned when we found the items.

"Laine spent days going through each scrap of paper and marvelling over the extent of the archive. There isn't time or space to list everything we found: we truly found a full lifetime of memories from someone who kept everything.

"But, in regard to Marjorie and Clifford we found a scrapbook that contained newspaper articles about each battle in which he was involved (most notably the sinking of the Japanese Destroyer the Yamoto), telegraphs from him during his initial training, Christmas and Valentines cards during service, their engagement announcement, their wedding invitation, letters and photos from his family, and then the letters from the war department both telling her about Clifford going missing and the determination that he was lost in action.

Screengrab from @ourrestorationnation’s video.
Screengrab from @ourrestorationnation’s video. Ingram eventually wed Elza Bond. They were married for 62 years. @ourrestorationnation

"His medals (Purple Heart, Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, WW2 Victory Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, etc) are all with his family.

"However, Clifford had given Marjorie sweethearts wings, his Anchor, his ensigns bars, one of his dog tags, multiple small pieces of jewelry, and her engagement ring.

"Interestingly there are no personal letters from Clifford; only a few telegrams about training or visits he plans to make home to see Marjorie."

Kevin explained the majority of items will eventually go on display in the house once it's restored. An only child, Ingram, had no living relatives when she passed away, while Bond was survived by numerous cousins.

He added: "The items actually extend through Marjorie's life beginning in 1921. However, the items in the war scrapbook begin in 1942 and continue until the 15 Aug 1945."

The trash bag also contained memorabilia from Ingram's younger years, with the accomplished and award-winning music teacher valedictorian at 16.

She was named homecoming queen—twice—at high school and college, with her senior year class ring from 1937, and University of Arkansas class ring, which she graduated from in 1941, among the items left behind.