Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lost High School RING Reunion (PICTURES BELOW)


Posted by Nolan Altman

The JGSLI (Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island) routinely receives requests from researchers and family members trying to find school photos and graduation information on ancestors through its online Yearbook Project.  But an email that was received in early August had a request of a different kind.

David Cosgrove, a metal detector hobbyist, sent in the following request:

While metal detecting in Noyac Bay, Sag Harbor, NY I found a graduation ring from Forest Hills High School from the year 1951 with the letters RNP inside. Is there anyway of finding the persons name and address if still alive? I would like to return it to the person. Any help would be appreciated.

Although searching for people who are not tied to a genealogical project is not something we typically do, genealogists are very used to using different resources in order to contact lost relatives and unknown descendents of relatives.  We thought it would be an interesting challenge to try to apply our “people finding” skills to see if we could facilitate the ring reunion.
In a phone conversation with Mr. Cosgrove, he told me, “I was using an under water metal detector in water that was up to my chest.  When the alarm went off, I had to reach down and dig for the object more than once.”  The ring he found was clearly in a place that no one would ever find it by chance since it was in a place covered by deep water even during low tide.  After retrieving the ring, Mr. Cosgrove cleaned it up and found the markings, “Forest Hills High School”, “1951” and the initials “RNP”.
Mr. Cosgrove described the area where he found the ring as a popular hangout in the 50’s.  Considering the amount of grime and sediment he cleaned off, he believed that the ring was probably not lost recently, but back in the 50’s.  He tried a few online searches and found the JGSLI website and sent in his request.
A check of the 1951 Forest Hills High School yearbook, as enumerated in the Yearbook Project listings (http://www.jewishgen.org/jgsli/yearbook_list.htm), gave us two leads on graduates with those initials.  However, the owner of the yearbook reminded us that the book contained only graduates from June 1951 and if “RNP” graduated in January, their photo would not be there.
I thought that anyone who would have purchased a class ring would have a strong connection to their school and might still be associated with the school through an online discussion group.  Further research using online alumni and social networking sites yielded another possibility.  One site, gives the opportunity to send an email to listed graduates and I did so, asking if whether that individual ever lost a school ring.
To my pleasant surprise, the very next day I received the following email from Robert Printz:
I don’t believe I know who you are, but, yes, I did lose my Forest Hills High School ring.  Have you found it?  If so, how can I get it back? I would surely appreciate an RSVP ASAP. T hanks so very much.

I spoke with Mr. Printz to check some facts to make sure this wasn’t a giant coincidence and he told me how he had lost his ring.  “Within a year or two after graduation, I went out east with my parents who had a house in Hampton Bays.  I was in shallow water when the ring slipped of my hand into the water.”  He tried in vain to find it but the more he tried, the harder it was to see anything and the ring was probably buried deeper and deeper.
Mr. Printz, who is now 76, remembers that he went swimming out east when he was a recent graduate and before he went into the army.  He figured that must be around 56 or 57 years ago!  He was greatly disturbed over losing his high school memento but never replaced it.  Although he’s thought about it over the years, he never believed he’d see the ring again.
“It’s so hard to believe that, after all these years, my lost ring may be coming back to me.  I’m looking forward to receiving a message via e-mail from the person who found the ring, and I’m overjoyed at what is happening”, wrote Mr. Printz.
“I’ve found rings and other items before, but I’ve never been able to return the lost articles to the original owner”, said Mr. Cosgrove.
We’re happy to report that the two gentlemen spoke to each other soon after the connection was made.  At the September 13th JGSLI meeting at the Plainview JCC, David and Robert met for the first time in person and the ring was returned to its owner after more than 55 years.

Mr. Printz summed up his feelings, “I am appreciative beyond words.”
 

If you would like to participate in the JGSLI Yearbook Project, please see the description of the project by clicking here. For more information on JGSLI, please visit their hompepage by clicking here


 
Ring Reunion (L-R Cosgrove, Printz, Altman)




Cosgrove Demo


 
Printz with Yearbook



 

Printz Yearbook Photo


2 comments:

  1. Hi,
    I enjoyed reading about the ring reuniting with its owner, but I'm wondering about the disparity between the owner's initials--RMP (yearbook indicates middle name was "Michael") and the initials on the ring--RNP.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah yes...the middle initial difference. :}

    The best we could all come up with was that the engraver, who does tens of thousands of these class rings each year, probably made an error. Robert Printz does not remember there being an error, but it was his middle initial and not his first or surname.

    The odds of two Forest Hills Class of 1951 graduates losing their rings in the same body of water were deemed so remote, that we all believe we have the correct parties.

    Nolan Altman.

    ReplyDelete

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