Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Haunted for 30 Years by Love Lost in High School

DEAR ABBY: When I was in the eighth grade I didn't "like boys." Building forts was much more interesting. But when my first love walked into our classroom, I knew I loved him the second I saw him.

We liked each other all during high school, although my parents told me I was too young to like boys. When he gave me gifts, I had to give them back. When he offered me his class ring I wasn't allowed to take it. It silently broke my heart. In all those years, I didn't ever tell him I loved him -- or how much.

He was the valedictorian of our class, and after high school he went on to Stanford University. I went to nurse's training. His life prospered; mine disintegrated.

At age 30, I married a man to please my father. That marriage ended in divorce eight years and two children later. After being a single parent for seven years, I longed for a husband and family. I married a man who had my first love's name. This marriage ended a year later after a lot of trauma to me and my children.

Two years ago, I realized that my true love was "missing in action" in my heart and that I hadn't been able to go on with my life. I located him through the Stanford Alumni register and after 30 years, talked with him -- for 42 minutes. He's happily married with four children.

After that phone call, I grieved for two days and then reconciled my love for him in my heart.

Abby, no other true love has come into my life. Perhaps one never will. Please encourage parents to take their children seriously. The heart is never too young to love deeply and eternally.

Thank you. I cannot sign this letter since I don't wish to expose my parents to the heartache they caused me so young in life, and the profound impact that forcing me to deny my love has had on me throughout the years. -- FINALLY RECONCILED, RICHLAND, WASH.

DEAR RECONCILED: Yours is a dramatic story. It's gratifying to know that you have finally found peace and resolved your first love.

When parents tell children that they are "too young" to be seriously in love, what they usually mean is that the children are too young to shoulder the responsibilities that accompany their turbulent emotions. I hope that the next time you find love, it brings you every happiness.

DEAR ABBY: My wife died two years ago. I know absolutely nothing about her side of the family. Although we had a wonderful trouble-free marriage of 47 years, she did not discuss her family.

Among her possessions is a photo album from 1880. All of the photos are excellent, taken in professional studios. The album is blue velvet, in mint condition. The pictures were taken in Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado; Los Angeles, Oakland and Pasadena, Calif.

Only one photograph is identified with a name: "Mrs. A. Hemenover, 1300 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, Calif., May 5, 1902."

Abby, I would love to return this album to any of her descendants. If anyone reading your column can help, I'm sure it will make the family very happy.

There are no strings attached and no thought of financial gain; I simply hate to see this beautiful album lost to the family. I am 77 years old and a totally responsible citizen.

Incidentally, my wife's maiden name was Jean Elenor Alameda. She was born in Oakland, Calif., and graduated from high school there. -- GAYEL G. CHEW

DEAR GAYEL G. CHEW: How generous of you. If a family member claims this album, I will contact you. Thank you for giving me your name, address and telephone number.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600