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HMJ Teacher Grateful for Return of Treasured Memories
09/29/2017
  Grace Wright, Karina Sanchez and Jesse Martinez, City of Baytown Public Works employees, look at the treasured photo album they returned to
Kristie Fudge ,Horace Mann Junior School teacher and her daughter Hannah, a seventh grader at HMJ.
Photo by Susan Passmore
(from left) Grace Wright, Karina Sanchez and Jesse Martinez, City of Baytown Public Works employees, look at the treasured photo album they returned to Kristie Fudge (second from right), Horace Mann Junior School teacher and her daughter Hannah, a seventh grader at HMJ.

HMJ Teacher Grateful for Return of Treasured Memories

By Susan Passmore

Although she had lost most of her possessions in the floodwaters during Hurricane Harvey, Horace Mann Junior School ESL teacher Kristie Fudge was just grateful she and her family had been rescued. Now, she has a piece of her life back thanks to several Baytown Public Works employees who cared enough to track her down.

Jesse Martinez, foreman of a Waste Water Treatment Plant, was talking to a lift driver at J.C. Hollaway Park across from Whispering Pines subdivision several days after flooding subsided when they spotted a small photo album on the street. Martinez took it to his office and set it down on the desk, asking lab technicians Grace Wright and Karina Sanchez to go through it to see if they could find the owner.

“They were baby pictures, and they were not digital, so they couldn’t be printed out again,” said Martinez. “I thought, ‘This is somebody’s child and somebody’s memories.’”

Wright and Sanchez immediately became detectives and set out to find the owner of the photos. Although some of them were damaged, they had a clear picture of a house and a house number, and they could read Kristie’s name on the back of a picture.

“We used a magnifying glass, and saw that the same name was on the hospital bracelet of the lady in the picture with the baby, so we knew the book belonged to her,” Wright said. “We also had a picture of a house and some dates in 2004 on the back of some photos.”

Sanchez posted some photos on Facebook, and they waited to see if anyone recognized them.

“I didn’t want to post faces, but I thought someone might recognize the house or the name,” said Sanchez. “I know that social media is the fastest way to get the message out to a large group.”

Within two hours, Amy Sims Bouillion, Fudge’s childhood friend, started trying to contact her because she recognized the house as Fudge’s childhood home. Eventually, Fudge’s mother Sandy Fudge called the Waste Water Treatment office, and her father Earl Fudge went by to pick up the album.

“It’s overwhelming the kindness that people show to find something like this and know this is special,” said Fudge.

Hannah Fudge-Adams, the baby in the pictures, now a seventh grader at Horace Mann Junior School, was grateful that her baby photo book, which had been tucked away in a drawer, had been recovered. The album contained pictures of many “firsts” for Hannah – going on a car ride, taking a bath and having a bottle fed to her by her grandparents.

“I’m looking at a picture of Mom and Dad bringing me home from the hospital, and I’m thinking that I could have lost these forever,” said Hannah. “My mom was super happy. It means a lot. I would never be able to remember this because I was so young.”

Although it has been a difficult time for the family, Fudge focuses on what she has instead of on what she lost. Fudge, her parents, her daughter and her dog were safely evacuated by three firemen from Fire Station 3, who picked her mother up in a kitchen chair and loaded her into a Baytown vehicle. Her mother’s electric wheelchair, which also made it out safely, was loaded into their vehicle.

“When we called for help, all we were able to do was grab the bags we had packed and go. A lot of memories were in drawers and in special places. We even lost my grandparents’ Bible. These pictures are some of my treasured moments, and I’m glad to have them back,” Fudge said.

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