LINDEN, NJ - During renovations at Linden High School this past summer, administrators found a photo album containing items related to the Class of 1946. That sparked a hunt to track down its owner and ended with a beautiful gift to an alumnus on her death bed.
The album contained photos from the 1940s, programs from concerts, plays, proms and football games, as well as programs from class reunions as recent as 2001. How it ended up in a storage closet at LHS is a mystery.
Anthony Fischetti, teacher and coordinator of the LHS International Baccalaureate program, volunteered to try to find the owner of the album. Inside the front cover was written the name Helen (Brown) Veverka with a Clark address.
“I immediately made a correlation to photos and artifacts that were uncovered after my grandfather passed,” he said. “To me it was so special to review all of these relics and learn things about my family that I didn’t necessarily know about. After a few moments of flipping through the album belonging to Helen, I knew that there was a collection of photos, articles and memories here that were irreplaceable with tremendous sentimental value. I knew that the right thing to do was to attempt to reunite the owner with something they clearly curated for a lifetime.”
When Fischetti checked, he found that Veverka no longer lived at the Clark address. But he found a listing and a phone number for Helen Veverka in Apollo Beach, Fla.
Fischetti called the number and got some good news, and some bad news. He talked to Gerry Munger, who identified himself at Helen’s Veverka’s partner. He confirmed that the book was hers and that she often spoke fondly of her wonderful memories from Linden High School. He was happy to hear that the book was discovered and appreciated that Fischetti planned to send it.
The bad news was that Veverka was under hospice care at the time, and she has since died.
Fischetti sent the album to Florida on Oct. 8 after speaking to Munger. Munger wrote back to Fischetti with a letter of great thanks, saying that his “beautiful bride” had passed on Oct. 12, just days after the album arrived.
“While she was unable to read it, she knew that it had been found, and through your kindness, returned to her,” the letter said. “It was so thoughtful of you. In the days since her passing, her children and grandchildren have enjoyed seeing the pictures and clippings from an earlier age.
“Linden made a significant difference in Helen’s life. She remembered her days at Linden and was still able to sing the school song!
“Educators DO make a difference!”
Fischetti said he was speechless after receiving the letter.
“I am so happy that I could reunite Helen with this scrapbook filled with memories from as far back as the 1940s,” he said. “Having had the privilege to look through these pages and see how meaningful Helen’s time at Linden High School was really helped to reinforce how big the impact is that we as educators have on the future leaders of tomorrow.”
Among the items in the album are personal photos as well as a photo of Linden’s downtown featuring the old Plaza Theater and A&P on Wood Avenue. There are pages from a program of a performance of “Pirates of Penzance,” a cover from a Thanksgiving Day football game against Union, and a program from the All State Chorus and Orchestra signed by students from around the state.
There are also covers from class reunion programs, including one from the 20th reunion in 1966. The program notes that among the special guests in attendance were Lida M. Ebbert and Edward R. Cooper, two former principals who are now the namesakes of the school and athletic field, respectively.
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