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Stolen Camera Returned to Teacher - 25 Years Later
Old 04-28-2006   #1
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Stolen Camera Returned to Teacher - 25 Years Later

Just an interesting, camera-related story. Thought you'd enjoy reading it.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

Friday, April 28, 2006

Byron Crawford
Victim of theft now has a smile for her camera
By Byron Crawford
[email protected]
The Courier-Journal

A mysterious package left in the office at Nelson County High School was marked only "FRAGILE" on four sides with art teacher Anne Zabenco's name on the top.

No one was sure who had left the package, but it had not arrived in the mail. Office staffers assumed that someone had left it on the counter during the morning rush when students were arriving.

"I'd had a really rough day that day -- and after I picked it up and was walking down the hall with another teacher on the way back to my room, I laughed and said, "It's probably a bomb -- because that would go with the rest of my day," said Zabenco, who is in her 28th year of teaching.

Back in class, after her students got busy, Zabenco opened the package.

'Quite a shock'
Inside she found a carefully wrapped old box camera, once owned by a great-uncle who was a photographer. The camera had been given to her many years ago, but had been stolen from her classroom at Old Kentucky Home, another school where she had taught in Bardstown, 25 years earlier.

"It was quite a shock," she said. "But it was a good shock -- that warm, wonderful feeling that just goes all over you."

An unsigned note was attached:

"Mrs. Zabenco,

"I do not know why I stole this from your class probably 25 years ago. I was having problems at home and was not thinking. I have never stole in my life before, or after this. I have taken good care of it and always wanted to give it back. You were a very good teacher and I have nothing but good memories of you. I am sorry. God bless you."

Zabenco remembered that she had brought the old camera to her ninth-grade class to use as a demonstration prop for a project in which the students were making "pinhole cameras." She was team-teaching a careers unit and had turned her storage room into a darkroom. One afternoon she discovered that her camera had disappeared.

"As far as its value goes, it's just sentimental," she said. "I know they must have been a dime a dozen back in the '50s and '60s, even though they were made much earlier."

She can't recall exactly what she said to the class about the camera's disappearance at the time it was stolen, but she is certain that the students got a lecture.

"At the time I was one of those little hot-headed teachers, so I'm sure I made an absolute fool of myself with the class over getting it back," she said. "I probably scared the person so bad that that's why they waited 25 years to return it."

Bruce England, the Nelson County schools' community relations director, said it's the first time in his memory of 31 years with the school system that he can recall any stolen item being returned.

Identity unknown
Zabenco has no idea who might have returned the camera, but she assumes the person still lives in the Bardstown area.

"I feel sure that they're a pretty good person," she said. "I want so badly for the person who kept the camera to know that I have it, and that I'm not mad about it and holding a grudge.

"They were so sweet to say that they thought I was a good teacher and that they had liked me. It was just very heartwarming to me, and probably at the time, that day, it was the highlight of my teaching career."
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