Memories are gilded in gold, burnished with the passage of time.
For some, memories are rekindled by turning the pages of a local newspaper or looking at the photographs of a high school yearbook. For many Batavians, the memories of our community are vividly brought to light through the Facebook page, "If u grew up in Batavia."
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"Rhonda Staley-Runge started the group," said Carolyn Olson Naughton, one of the site's administrators. "It's so much fun to recall all those childhood memories and to connect with classmates whom you might not connect with on your regular Facebook page."
The page, only open to people who grew up in Batavia, has more than 2,000 members from across the country. It keeps former and present Batavians abreast of what is currently happening in the city along with regular discussions about what Batavia was like in previous decades. Members can view old class photos and see photos of proms, sports programs and businesses that have changed over the years.
One of the administrators, Linda Hoover Garrison of Vancouver, Washington, also keeps track of Batavians who have passed away and posts the obituaries.
Recently, Joe Richardson, from Ashton, Illinois, posted a request for help in finding the owner of a Batavia High School class ring found in his house.
"OK, friends and family," posted Richardson. "We found this class ring several years ago when remodeling our kitchen. It is a girl's ring with a pearl or opal stone from Batavia High School for the year 1965, with the initials DLB. Now, this girl would be in the 1963 yearbook because that is when she would have ordered the ring. She would not necessarily have graduated from Batavia, because they could have moved between 1963 and 1965."
That's exactly what happened to Joe Richardson. His family moved from Batavia to Griffith, Indiana, in September of his senior year.
"I would have tried to find the owner no matter where the ring was from," said Richardson. "But, I have always been amazed that this was found by a fellow classmate almost 40 years after it was lost."
Richardson posted pictures of the ring, showing the details of the owner's initials and class. The search was on. Soon members of the site were poring over old yearbooks looking for clues. Many speculated on the birth month of the owner since the stone was either an opal or a pearl.
It became apparent that the only girl with the initials DLB was Dorothy Beronich. Her sister, Carol, saw the post and verified that Dorothy had lost her ring years ago.
"She was traveling by bus in 1972 from Aurora to Ottumwa, Iowa, to return to our parents' home," wrote Carol Beronich. "She had recently left her then-husband and had everything she owned in a small black suitcase with her on the bus. In the suitcase was her jewelry box with the class ring and some other jewelry, none of it worth much in dollars, but it had true sentimental value. At some point during the trip, the suitcase was stolen. She arrived in Ottumwa with nothing but the clothes on her back."
How the ring ended up under kitchen cabinets in a home in Ashton, no one knows.
Joe Richardson packed the ring for mailing, insured it and sent it to Dorothy Beronich Throckmorton. She was happy to get the ring back and was thankful for Richardson's efforts.
"How did I feel when I heard from Dorothy?" wrote Richardson. "A mixture of joy (finally! after 4 years!) and wonder (is this really the owner?). I asked her to relate something about the ring's disappearance; again thinking it would indicate when she had lived here. Of course that was not the case. I was also looking for a time frame for its loss because we had lived in this house since 1983 but just found the ring in 2008; I wanted confirmation that the ring was lost before 1983."
With the value of gold, Richardson could have easily sold the ring and made some pocket money. Or he could have posted it on eBay or Craigslist in hopes of having the owner pay for it.
That never was a consideration.
Instead he did the right thing, found the owner and returned it.
Posting isn't anything new. In years past, a description of a lost or found item would have been posted on a telephone pole, or tied around a tree or lamp post. And people responded in kind, looking and searching to help.
Joe Richardson knew what it was like to lose a bit of that history.
"I haven't seen my class ring since the late 60s," he said. "And, even though I would no longer wear it, I wish I knew that it was in a jewelry box in our bedroom."