Man receives congratulatory telegram 50 years later

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A man who graduated from the University of Michigan in 1969 has finally received a congratulatory telegram from family friends that was sent more than 50 years ago.

Robert Fink received the Western Union telegram this year. Western Union ended its telegram business in 2006. The Washington Post first reported on the telegram finally being delivered to Fink.

The telegram originally arrived in 1969 at an Ann Arbor apartment Fink shared with three classmates a day after he had left to attend graduate school in New York.

Christina Zaske rediscovered the telegram in December after removing the bottom drawer of an old filing cabinet now owned by Ann Arbor-based digital marketing agency ICON Interactive to retrieve a piece of paper that had fallen inside.

“I looked inside, mostly because I was curious to see an actual telegram,” Zaske told The Ann Arbor News.

Zaske saw Fink’s name on the paper and used the internet to find him and return the note. Fink is now a professor at Oakland University in Rochester, a Detroit suburb that’s about 45 miles northeast of Ann Arbor.

“I was surprised to learn that he had never received the telegram and was glad that I could reunite it with its intended recipient all of these years later,” Zaske said.

Fink said the letter has brought back memories and made him reflect on his old connections.

“The theme for me has been that the long arm of the past is reaching out and grabbing me, and I should take it seriously,” he said.

Fink said he’s regretful he never had the chance to thank Ben and Lillian Fischman for sending the telegram, noting that they’ve both died.

“It also left me with a funny sense of guilt that they had thought about me that way,” Fink said. “It took some effort to send a telegram — it’s not like texting someone. It touched me they had thought about me and made the effort to do so.”

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