The discovery of an old class ring sparked my Nancy Drew tendencies and led me on a journey where I reconnected with an old acquaintance and received a rare photograph of my parents as newlyweds.
Scrolling through Facebook this week, the date 1935 caught my eye in a post about a class ring found from Canton High School.
It immediately captured my attention, because that was the year my father graduated from old Canton High.
The poster described the ring as having the initials LIC engraved on the inside of the band. That was an important clue.
My father never had a class ring and those were certainly not his initials, but since his graduating class contained only about 45 students, I thought there was a chance I might know the person the ring had belonged to and that person’s children and grandchildren.
Happily, I was partially right on both counts.
My grandmother, in her wisdom, saved the copy of Canton High School’s newspaper, the Green and Gold with the photograph of the graduates lined up on the marble steps leading up to the old school, which is now City Hall.
She kept all such memorabilia in her cedar chest bought at old Jones Mercantile back in the early 1900s and which I inherited when she died.
I dug it out and began scanning through the names under the photograph. Some of them I already knew, like Smith Johnston of Woodstock. Back in those days, Canton was the only accredited high school in the county.
So, each day students like Smith rode the train to Canton and climbed the hill to the school to attend classes and get an education.
There were other names on the list that I recognized, but none that fit the initials I was
searching for. Then my eyes lighted on Lottie Croy. Perhaps this was the person.
I scanned through the newspaper to find out more about her, but the only other mention was in the class superlatives, where she had been chosen the Prettiest Girl. And, yes, she was lovely. But I could not place her as someone I knew.
I rushed back to my computer to offer my discovery to the world and see if anyone would recognize her name. I was in luck.
Rebecca Burtz Melton, the daughter of the late Superior Court Judge Sam Burtz and wife Bee Burtz, said it was her aunt, her mother’s only sister.
Other people on Facebook also chimed in, recalling memories of Lottie Imogene Croy McCurley, who for many, many years it turns out was the city clerk for Canton.
Lottie Croy was born in 1916. After graduating from Canton High School, she eventually got married and had a daughter, Mona McCurley Wright, who sadly died earlier this year after a battle with cancer.
I grew up with Mona, she was one year ahead of me in school. She lived with her mother in a large three-story white house on Brown Street in Canton.
Rebecca shared with me that when Mona was nine months old, her father died, and Lottie embarked upon the difficult task of raising her only child as a single mom.
“I have always admired her so much as she was a single parent her whole life. After her husband died when her daughter was just a baby, she persevered, made a life for herself and her daughter.
“She was a force, smart as a whip, a wonderful and dynamic person. My memory only goes back to the early ‘70s, and I don’t have much of memory of her early days, but she took charge and got it done,” her niece remembers.
“Her husband passed away and she had to go to work, and she did. I always admired her for all that. In the last several years I have come to understand what sort of life that would have been for her.
“And she was beautiful. She was a wonderful aunt and presence in mine and my brother Sammy’s life,” Rebecca said.
There was never an answer on Facebook about the status of the ring, but Rebecca is hopeful she might eventually get it back to the family.
Meantime, she gave me a lovely gift. A rare photo of my parents taken in 1948 at the Burtzs’ apartment at the time in the Palmer home on Jarvis Street, according to a handwritten note from Judge Burtz.
There are many photos of my parents after they had me and bought a Kodak Brownie camera that I think my father wore out, but few of their early married days.
I will cherish that photo. My sleuthing on Facebook led me to uncovering a wonderful, uplifting story and a photograph I love.
I also discovered Lottie and my father were in the senior class play together and was reminded my dad was voted the Most Mischievous and Wittiest Senior.
And I was reminded of all I appreciate about my hometown, the people that made it into the wonderful place it is, and the memories it holds.