In 1969-70, when Jim Pappas was a senior at Sturgis High School, he was in the building trades program and earned the Gold Hammer Award.
Students were building a house near the high school, at 303 Pioneer St.
Ashley Brewer, a 2004 graduate of SHS, purchased the house in 2018 and started renovating. It had been a rental for years, and it showed.
While Brewer and her father were gutting the home, they found a variety of things left by previous owners — but only one with identification. Lying atop the foundation was a 1968 DNR hunting license, tucked in a plastic holder with a large pin that allowed a hunter to fasten it to the back of a coat.
Brewer misplaced it until a few weeks ago.
“I got excited when I found it again,’” Brewer said.
This time, she was determined to find Jim Pappas, to whom the license was issued.
Using social media, Brewer learned that Pappas is alive and well in Sturgis.
With the help of his daughter, Wendy Pappas, Brewer surprised Pappas, meeting him in the driveway of the home he had helped to build a half-century earlier.
Pappas didn’t remember leaving it there, but since it was the previous-year's license, he hadn’t missed it.
"Don't try to use it," Brewer warned. "It's expired."
“Mr. Kirshner had quite a crew to do this house,” Jim said. “I must have put it there. Why I was doing something like that, I don’t know. Maybe everybody thought they’d leave something somewhere.”
Brewer mentioned finding all sorts of "time capsules" in the house.
“I hope you didn’t find the nails in the window sill,” Pappas said.
He remembers fellow student leaving their mark by pounding in excessive nails.
Oh yes, Brewer said, she found many messages from the building trades students.
Using nails they had hammered in messages into door frames — words such as “sucker,” “I was here” and “Cool.”
When his grandson handed Pappas his Golden Hammer Award, stating “Jim Pappas Outstanding Senior,” he dismissed it with a wave of his hand.
“Oh yeah, they gave those away,” Pappas said.
Remembering it all while standing in the driveway was enjoyable. A few classmates had responded to the post. Some wanted to reconnect. Some assured Brewer he is a good guy.
“The whole town knew about this before you,” Brewer told him.
Pappas agreed. “Yeah, I never go on Facebook.”
Pappas, his daughter and grandson chatted with Brewer until it was time to leave for a grandson’s baseball game.
Pappas said to Brewer, “Thank you for having the courage to do that and having all these people around to protect you.”
After all, safety can be an issue with a social media posting.
One of Pappas' grandsons, Zander Pappas, followed in his footsteps by going through the SHS building trades program. He left a "Happy Meal" toy on a rafter, Wendy said.
This article originally appeared on Sturgis Journal: Time capsule pieces found in Sturgis High School building trades home