I would like to tell everyone how we go about finding your current addresses and or email addresses.
The reunion committee provided a listing of all of the classmates of the class (both graduates and people who for one reason or another didn’t graduate with the class). This list included addresses and phone numbers obtained over 10 years ago (or even further back). The reunion committee also provided a list of classmates who attended the last reunion and their addresses. The overall list was a giant MS Word document which I turned into an Excel spreadsheet. I then turned the Spreadsheet into a Database.
From there I started my search. I used White Pages or Switchboard www.whitepages.com, www.anywho.com, Google Search, the SS Death Index (http://ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com/), and best of all, contacts with other classmates to check the address and telephone numbers for each classmate. I also used Facebook and even got a GOLD subscription to Classmates.com to help in my search. I then picked up the phone (cell phone for long distance , land line for relatively local) and called the numbers I had. I worked my way through the class alphabetically and to date have made it half way through the “M’s”. I did skip around a little if I got a hot lead from one of our classmates. I used the yearbook and the 1965 graduation program to determine full names (including middle initials).
Many times, I got a disconnected phone. Sometimes I got the wrong number. And yes… sometimes I connected with a classmate. Frequently, I got an answering machine. Since my name isn’t exactly someone you would connect with the Class of 1965 I would expect that some people just didn’t answer the phone when they saw my name on their caller ID (“just another telemarketer”). But many people may not have been home OR…. perhaps I was leaving a message at someone’s house who never heard of English High School before. I generally would jot down a comment on my Excel Spreadsheet about what I found and if I left a message. I used my comments later to make a second call if I deemed it possible that a classmate was at the number I was calling.
I deleted numbers that didn’t work and used hints provided by Whitepages.com where the person might be living. I frequently ran into cases where I was chasing the wrong person!
I sent out messages on Classmates.com (to well over 100 classmates who had names listed there). Unfortuately, people have to log into Classmates.com and then read their messages. If they don’t long in frequently (which includes most people) they won’t see their messages. And if they don’t read their messages when the log it, then it could be even longer before I got a reply. The same goes for Facebook, although I think Facebook is much easier to use and get messages than Classmates.com.
After a while, I had to make a decision to continue searching for someone or to move on. If I felt I was chasing a good lead I would continue… sometimes successfully, sometimes getting to dead ends. If the leads I had weren’t very good (like chasing a person with the wrong middle initial or in the wrong age group), I gave up… but not before checking the SS Death Index.
I always hoped I would get the response “no results found” when I went to the SS Death Index. Sometimes however, I found someone with the correct first name, middle initial and last name who was born around the 46-49 time frame, who’s SS number was issued someplace in New England. Generally, I then turned to Google to see if I could find an obituary (rarely). In most cases, I have had to contact a family member (if I could find one) or someone who knew the person who’s name appeared on that awful list. In a few cases, I found a family member who confirmed that the deceased person was, in fact, a fellow classmate of ours. In one case however, I found the deceased person did not graduate from our high school. If I am unable to confirm the death of a classmate, the classmate’s name will go on the Missing Classmate list.
I got laid off from Polaroid in May, 2007 when Polaroid decided to tear down its plants. I was the last manufacturing chemical process engineer who worked there. Unfortunately, there aren’t many chemical plants in the area surrounding greater Boston (not counting biotech), and unfortunately I got laid off at the very start of the economic downturn. Not great for me! BUT…. I did find myself with some extra time which I could devote to the task which I have partially described above.