When Leonard Zarychta of Garland, Texas, decided to attend an estate sale on his 76th birthday March 13, he had no idea it would eventually lead him to Cushing, Oklahoma.
Leonard accidentally stepped on a ring that had fallen onto the floor of the house where the estate sale was being held. After being told it was not part of the sale, he placed the ring in his pocket and left. Upon further examination it was determined the ring was from Cushing High School. More specifically, it belonged to someone from the class of 1943 with the initials “S M.”
He returned home and immediately got onto the Internet to do a search for “Cushing.” Leonard discovered the Downtown Main Street Program and called the number to see if someone could assist in finding the possible owner of the ring. Executive Director and CHS alumnus Rick Reiley was quick to help. He found the list of 1943 CHS graduates and emailed it to Leonard. Amazingly, there was only one person in that class with the initials “S M” – Sammy Jane Murphy (Smith).
The search began to find Sammy Jane. Leonard was put in touch with Class of ’43 CHS graduates. First was Oliver Kinzie, who in turn gave the phone number of Orvena Winkelman to Leonard. No phone listing could be found for Sammy Jane but Orvena did have the number of someone who might know how to reach her – Neil and Jane Armstrong of Roanoke, Texas. (Ironically, the estate sale where the ring was discovered was located on Roanoke Street.) Indeed the Armstrongs were able to supply the phone number for Sammy Jane.
Leonard called Sammy Jane and told her about his find. Believing her class ring was still in a safety deposit box, she told him she didn’t think it was hers – but that she would check to make sure her ring was in fact in the box.
Lo and behold – there was no class ring in the box. Sammy Jane, who now lives in Dallas, Texas, called Leonard to ask if she and her husband could come by so she could see the ring and try it on.
It was still a perfect fit!
After a lovely visit with Leonard and his wife Celia, Sammy Jane along with her husband Norman returned home – ring on hand.
“It’s a total mystery how it got to the estate sale in Garland, Texas,” Sammy Jane wrote in a note to Orvena. “He (Leonard) is a remarkable man. He was determined to find the owner.” She went on to write that she had taken the ring to her arthritis swim class where her friends were “amazed” at the story.
Unfortunately Sammy Jane is unable to travel to this year’s All-Class Reunion, but I’m sure her story will bear repeating again and again.