Lana Jane Ratliff was the first girl I ever loved. We were six and in the second grade at Irving School in Joplin, Missouri. When she did not return for the third grade, I learned that she had moved…to California, or so I was told, but that was incorrect. In any case, I resolved to find her no matter how long it took. I would propose marriage and somehow, we would find a way to survive on my dollar-a-week allowance. So I have now been searching for her (on and off) for 65 years. At this point, I only want to say “HI” and see how her life turned out. I truly hope that she is well and happy and enjoying her grandchildren. It would give me peace of mind to know this.
Recently I was able to unearth a lot about Lana Jane using Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com. After our second grade class let out for summer vacation, I never saw Lana again. Her father, Gregor, was in the Navy and involved in training and recruiting, so he moved around a lot. Eventually, the Ratliff’s wound up in Hutchinson, Kansas, where Lana finished high school (Hutchinson High School, Class of 1962) and then attended Hutchinson Junior College, in 1962 – 64. She was the editor of the college yearbook.
I have determined that the lovely woman on the right is indeed the Lana I knew in grade school, and have corroborated this with research. This picture on the right is how she looked at the end of the school year in 1964. Unfortunately, all traces of her after that date are missing. Perhaps she married and has a different last name, but I can find no marriage records and (thankfully) no death records either.
I hope Lana is alive and well “somewhere out there.” If anyone knows, please let me know. She would be 72 years of age if still among the living.
Lana’s parents were Gregor and Katherine Ratliff. After Kansas, they went to Southern California, living in San Dimas, San Gregorio, and finally Fullerton, where they passed away. I have not been able to locate their final resting places.
UPDATE: Shortly after posting this, I was able to communicate with Lana’s cousin on FaceBook. Lana is alive and well, I am happy to say. She sent me a note, and it was great to see her feminine handwriting in green ink, yet! Sadly however, Lana has become a bit reclusive and I was informed that she is not interested in reconnecting with anyone from her past, that she is both a very private person and very present-moment minded. Sad.