By Lee Cataluna
The McKinley High School class of 1957 still gets together once a month for meetings and several times a year for parties. During their recent festivities, this is the "did you hear?" story that made the rounds:
It was the middle of November when Edwin Wada got the call from an Air Force captain, whose first question was, "Did you graduate from McKinley High School in 1957?"
Capt. Jim Steff of Hickam Air Force Base had been beachcombing with a metal detector at Ala Moana. He found a McKinley 1957 class ring buried in the sand in about three feet of water. As is his habit, Steff wanted to try to return it to its owner. He called the school and was given Wada's number as a contact for the class of '57.
The ring bore a single clue: the initials "R.K.Y." Wada enlisted the help of several classmates to dig up a yearbook and start the detective work.
"You always need the movers and the shakers in any group, and we happen to have a couple of them. They move and we shake," Wada said.
There were five R.Y.s in the graduating class, but the yearbook didn't give middle initials. The '57 Movers and Shakers were undaunted. They started poring over mailing lists and cross-checking with the phone book. They finally came up with a name: Ray Yoshioka of Mililani. Endo made the first phone call.
Yes, Yoshioka's middle initial is 'K' and, yes, come to think of it, he did lose his class ring. But that was a long time ago, about a year after graduation. He thinks it might have happened while swimming at Ala Moana Beach.
Steff had returned from Iraq a few weeks earlier. His family was moving to Misawa Air Base in Japan the middle of December. He wanted to find the ring's owner before he left.
Wada put Yoshioka and Steff in touch with each other, and on Thanksgiving Day, the two men met at the McDonald's on Valkenburgh Street near the Pearl Harbor Commissary Complex.
"Wow, what a gift," said Yoshioka. "And on Thanksgiving Day!"
Steff, 36, marveled that the ring had been lost longer than he has been alive. "He was stunned that after so long someone would find it, let alone return it to him," Steff wrote in an e-mail from Japan. "It's an incredible feeling to hand an irreplaceable item back to the owner."
Yoshioka says the ring still fits, though his knuckle got bigger. "My daughter asked me, 'What do you want the ring for?' and I said, 'Inspiration!' If I'm ever feeling down or depressed, I can look at the ring and say. 'Eh, you were in that water for (46) years, and you came out OK!'"
The McKinley Class of '57 members have been sharing this story and asking the question, "So, do you still have YOUR class ring?"
"Nah," says Wada. "I lost that thing years ago and I don't even remember where."
Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Reach her at 535-8172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.