Backwoods Home Magazine is a little publication out of the 2,000 person town of Gold Beach, Oregon. It’s all about rural living — canning, cheese making — and it also has a bit of a survivalist bent to it, with articles on how to protect yourself in a terrorist attack. And in 1997, simply because they had space to fill in the print edition, John Silveira contributed a now infamous classified ad. 

WANTED:” the ad read, “Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O.Box 322 Oakview CA, 93022. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.

Silveira says the ad was the opening line of a long-abandoned sci-fi novel, and that he expected to get maybe three or four responses from people who were in on the joke. What he got instead was a deluge of responses. People were really, really into it. And they had all kinds of questions. From the basics:

How are we going? Why is it dangerous? Why do we need weapons? What kind of weapons should I bring?

To the smallest details:

Will there be toilet paper or should I bring my own? 

There were people with elaborate backstories:

We saw your ad recently while here in jail. We are all felons and would like to go back and not get caught. Can you get us back in time from where you are or do we need to travel to California? If so, that might pose a problem since we are stuck here for a while. But maybe you could go back and change things for us.

And people who — well, who knows what some of these people were up to:

Yes I want to time travel to 1984. My time machine was stolen and I am stuck in 2010. Thank you.

Silveira expected that the letters would taper off, but they didn’t. In fact, they only increased in frequency over time. After a while, he figured out where the traffic was coming from.

“It became an Internet meme,” Silveira says.

It’s hard to pinpoint the first place it appeared on the Internet, but it seems like the flashpoint was a YTMND page that paired the classified with a picture of a mulleted man with a deadly serious look on his face and “Push It To the Limit” by Giorgio Moroder and Paul Engenmann playing in the background. 

These days, it’s a classic meme. Everyone has seen it. Hell, there’s even a movie (very very very) loosely based on the ad. And it feels like everyone’s in on the joke. But Silveira says that along with all the letters he received that were silly or clever or knowing, there were some that were steeped in regret. People who were writing on the off chance that they might actually be able to hitch a ride back in time to undo something that has forever changed them. 

“Some of them were people that asked me to go back in time and there would be like, ‘My son committed suicide, can you go back to such and such night and stop him?’” says John. “Or, ‘My daughter was killed in an auto accident, can you go back to the day before and stop it?’”

Of all the letters he received, there was one that stood out:

I have read your advertisement to go back in time and that’s in quotes. I am extremely interested in this, and would not even require payment. I will not need a weapon, and in fact would like to travel back to 1991 or previously to change the events leading to the death of my husband, for which I am in prison. I don’t care about my safety, in fact if I cannot change the events of the past, I would prefer not to even survive. Please contact me by return mail with further information about this possibility. 

The letter came from a woman named Robin Radcliffe at Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah. What was it that Robin wanted so badly to go back in time to do, or perhaps undo? And how does John deal with letters like these? Listen to this week’s episode to find out. 

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41 Comments

Duraid David · January 29, 2017 at 9:49 pm

No problem

John Smith · January 29, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Take me back to the night I was conceived lol.

Alexandru Mihail Marian · January 29, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Let me know when you want to go in the future. I need some lottery numbers.

Subodh Kumar Keshri · January 29, 2017 at 4:22 pm

Yes,I want to go

Bradley Cook · January 29, 2017 at 2:54 pm

Fuck it I’ll go . I’m in the wrong time any ways lol

Brian Carpenter · January 29, 2017 at 10:44 am

I’m in

Monika Gerc · January 29, 2017 at 10:15 am

Me 2

Shannon Lee · January 29, 2017 at 7:55 am

How far back???? They got the picture wrong tho.. this is from enders game.

Terry Guthrie · January 29, 2017 at 1:13 am

Been there done that

Jeja Khan · January 29, 2017 at 12:13 am

Me

Norton Hardin Jr. · January 28, 2017 at 11:43 pm

Wanted: Someone to leave this planet with me

Julien van Herreweghe · January 28, 2017 at 9:35 pm

yes i like to go backe in time in egypt ramsess2 ok

Lorena Reeve · January 28, 2017 at 8:17 pm

Shane Tapley · January 28, 2017 at 8:06 pm

Let’s go

Shmerlin Osiris · January 28, 2017 at 7:05 pm

We out tho?

Harley Si Dain · January 28, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Fuck it, I’m in.

Tom Flores · January 28, 2017 at 6:24 pm

I’ll go with you…. when do we leave?

Refugio Campos · January 28, 2017 at 6:04 pm

Lets go

Steven Walls · January 28, 2017 at 6:03 pm

I go

Carmon Earl · January 28, 2017 at 6:01 pm

how far back in time? like the civil war, or the flintstones?

Mardie Blackburn · January 28, 2017 at 6:00 pm

I’m ready…

Kerry Guevara-Clark · January 28, 2017 at 5:45 pm

Let’s do this ♡♡♡

Anthony Daulton · January 28, 2017 at 5:43 pm

Me

Andre Hinds · January 28, 2017 at 5:43 pm

I’ll do it!

Heri Suazo Perla · January 28, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Ok im ready

Ziggy Sour · January 28, 2017 at 5:04 pm

I’ll go when do we start.

Amit Sharma · January 28, 2017 at 5:04 pm

I am in

Perry Strandlund · January 28, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Pick me I’m your man

George Waldron · January 28, 2017 at 4:51 pm

In all the movies with the that deal with time traveling there are little bits and pieces of details that got right , like traveling is generally referred to as up line means to future and down line means back to the past.
And if you come in to contact with yourself you will start to get sick and one of you will die and of the most important thing to remember is too make sure you don’t mess with anything that will change the future for you and everyone else. One other thing all the stuff in the abovementioned in for the movies , let’s get real for a moment in traveling in time , You can not go past your date of birth or you wouldn’t be around anymore . You can not go past the day you started building your time machine the reason for this is you would have to have had built it in the past in order to be able too go to the future in order for traveling back into the past, I know it sounds confusing . So when start building your own time machine you will begin to understand. Good luck in building it.

    James Von · January 28, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    Alternate time lines can run in multiple diemiensons. Time is a construct we use to measure our existance through rotations of the sun. Time dosnt apply to physics. Albert Einstein “you are as real as you were 5 mins ago as you will be 5 mins from now”

George Whalen · January 28, 2017 at 4:47 pm

when do we leave

Troy Anthony Machnicki · January 28, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Take me please.

Krishna Maurya · January 28, 2017 at 4:25 pm

Yes I’ll go

Alec Cap · January 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Alien Earth has often said can this be possible

Mc-Anthony Oriaku · January 28, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Am all in!.

Joseph Witt · January 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm

I’ll go….

Altair Adamson Azrael · January 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Not only going back in time but with the extra terrestrials and aliens too, I’m in!

Jeff Anteri · January 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Let’s go

Bronislava Andreeva · January 28, 2017 at 3:52 pm

whether it be a perpetual motion machine with a time machine 🙂 video implement attaching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91WZ3vIzr-s

Andrew Lincoln · January 28, 2017 at 3:45 pm

me to

Richard Dodged · January 28, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Im fucking going

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