The note.
The note. Steve White/Facebook

One evening recently, Steve White was going out for an evening walk near his home in western Pennsylvania. He came across a scrap of laminated paper, dated May 1987. The note had a message from Brenda Walters, a third grader—the note had been attached to a balloon and asked that if it was found, the finder get in touch with her elementary school, in East Leroy, Michigan.

East Leroy is near the center of southern Michigan, more than 300 miles from western Pennsylvania. The balloon that was released with Brenda Walters’ note three decades ago must have floated to Pennsylvania; the note lay there waiting for someone to find it.

White posted his find to Facebook, naturally, and the close-knit community of East Leroy started dredging up memories. Many people remembered the schools’ tradition of releasing balloons into the wild and Mrs. Bennett’s third grade class in 1987. Brenda Walters was a little harder, though. “I kind of remember the name,” one former student wrote on Facebook. “It sounds familiar to me too, but I can’t place her,” said another.

Soon, though, they were able to locate Brenda—her son showed her the note. “She thinks that [it’s] awesome that you had found it,” he wrote.