Lost & Found

Most of my high school yearbooks hadn’t been dusted off in ages. The other assorted memorabilia like commencement exercise programs and assorted reunion booklets hadn’t been looked at in…like…never. Suddenly they’ve become my new best friends. Especially when the Class of ’62’s fiftieth high school reunion loomed on the celebration horizon.

Busy since last August, a small group of us have reserved an event venue, a caterer, and a photographer, opened a bank account, made deposits, written checks and balanced bank statements. And begun the detailed work of generating alumni contact spreadsheets, mailing lists, reservations lists, and finding lost alumnae. I took up the task of creating all these various spreadsheets for a couple of reasons probably. First, it suited some of my better obsessive compulsive qualities. And second, I somehow felt like I was getting to know these five hundred and fifteen plus folks in a way that I hadn’t when I went to school with them. I poured over their pictures, doubled checked addresses, searched Facebook, recorded middle and married names, listed divorces and deaths. I discovered who’d stayed put, who’d moved a little, and who’d moved a lot. I’ve learned about careers, retirements, hobbies, passions and migrations. In short, I’ve probably gathered enough material to write a novel entitled Reunion about the happiness, hurts and sorrows of a graduating class who came of age just as June Cleaver was waving goodbye to Beaver as he skipped into the world a wide-eyed innocent.

After the reunion invitations had gone out, and incoming reservations generated excitement at the mailbox daily, I turned my energies to finding some of the 102 names on our class’s missing list. It was slow going initially until the older brother of two twins in my class emailed me with some contact information for someone we were looking for. I still can’t completely remember how it happened, but suddenly I had an online fellow researcher who was able and willing to go several levels deeper in the databases of various search engines to find out those arcane bits of information that help connect the dots. The days often began and ended with emails from Pete providing astonishingly detailed contact information in response to my requests for assistance. The MIA list began to shrink. And I began to get curious. How was he able to find so much information from such a range of sources? What search engines was he using that I didn’t know about? What did he know that I didn’t know? I began to ask questions. Pete became a gracious tutor.

This went on for months. We exchanged frequent emails, mutually enjoying solving the mysteries of the missing. But I had never met this cyber research colleague face to face. My curiosity and gratitude grew in equal measure. After one especially satisfying lost and found episode, I was absolutely convinced I needed to meet this guy. Pete and his wife came to dinner last Saturday. We spent a long evening enjoying good food and good conversation. And I learned why he has been so amazingly helpful in our search for lost classmates. Though retired a few years, Pete spent nearly his whole forty plus years working for the State of California, in different agencies, as a detective! Well, no wonder he’s been so helpful!

Under his influence I’ve expanded and improved my research skills. To date, there are fewer than thirty-five names left on the missing list. And those names remain elusively hard to find. I am in praise of oddly spelled names and long term marriages. Those missing folks have been easier to find. I relish that someone with six degrees of separation who still occasionally emails me with a new, tantalizing tidbit that moves a stalled search forward. So that none would be lost. 

If someone has been lost to you, what story would you tell about finding them? Were there others who helped with the search? In solving that mystery, what have you learned about yourself? What would you title a painting or a poem you created to memorialize that experience?

Looking forward to your lost and found stories!



1 comment to Lost & Found

  • Jonelle Stevens

    Lynn, you are doing your classmates a huge service. I just returned from my 50th HS reunion in Iowa and it was such fun. One of my friends who now lives in Germany was able to rent her old house for the 7 of us who used to run around together. (originally there was 8, but one had passed away) We had such fun as the committee had planned a whole week-end of events.

    So much laughter and remembering. Of course none of us remembered the same stuff. 🙂 Many different trails our lives had taken. 4 out of the original 8 had been divorced putting us right there with the national average.

    The Internet is a big help to staying in touch. Keep at your search for lost class members as the more people who come makes the whole event so much more worthwhile. At least 2/3 of the alive classmates attended ours because of diligent efforts to find and connect with people. Go, Lynn, go! I’m so glad you found the assistance of a real live detective.
    Jonelle Stevens

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