I ADMIT: SOMETIMES I discover stuff I’ve long forgotten about. If I’m lucky, it’s a $20 in a jacket pocket.

But, for me, those “old” finds usually haven’t aged in place more than a year or two.

At Ripon Middle School, though, a teacher may have made a discovery recently that may have sat around a bit longer than that.

Not a year, or even a decade.

Try, more than a century.

Kathryn Dreifuerst, who started at Ripon Middle School a year ago, made this startling discovery over the summer during some “deep cleaning” of her new classroom.

There they were, tucked between a few other papers:

Artwork dated “Sept. 27, 1911.”

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “They were beautiful.”

She’s relatively new to the position, so she’s unsure how long they’ve been sitting around.

But, given where she found them — stuck in the middle of a pile of old, old papers — they may have been there a while.

THE MORE KATHRYN thought about it, the more the mystery deepened.

The teacher before her had been at the school just 10 years; before that, Dick Mucks taught in the room for 35. Had they not seen these mystery drawings before? Possibly.

And why were drawings from 1911 sitting around in a building built in the 1930s?

“I know the whole room was completely remodeled in the ’70s or ’80s,” too, she said.

Then there was the identity of the illustrator: Eva Chapman Faustman. Who was this lady?

“I tried to find out who this Eva Chapman was,” Kathryn said. “My first thought was maybe she was an art teacher. [The drawings] were the kind of academic drawings you would do in a classroom.” ...

While in Ripon, Faustman lived in an apartment building at 711 Watson St. She died in 1970 at age 77 in Northridge, Calif., where she had moved to live near her son.

But why were a handful of Faustman’s charcoals, pastels and other art pieces sitting in Kathryn’s classroom?

Kathryn doesn’t have an answer, but she’s hoping someone does — and that they step forward to give her some insight into where these drawings came from.

Given the beauty of the historic artwork, Kathryn hopes someone steps forward to help her give them the dignified life they deserve.

“It would be nice if somebody with preservation skills could mount them, frame them,” she said. “I just think we should do something with them.”

To read the entire column, see the Jan. 10, 2013 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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