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Finding and Returning a Class Ring

By: Tyler J.

Saturday, March 4th, 2016. Started like any other day for me. I woke up and took care of the animals, grabbed a drink and headed out to do some door knocking. First stop was a house right down the road from me that was built in 1903 and is undergoing a full restoration. Luckily the property owner was there. He told me that I could, but, I had to wait till they at least got the siding up for insurance reasons. while he was giving me a tour of the house he mentioned that he grew right down the road on an old chicken farm that his family had run for 88 years and said that it might be worthwhile to look around over there. He also told me his grandmother had lost a diamond ring under one of the persimmon trees by the pond. I thought "how cool would it be to find this ring for this guy?" and I headed over to the property to seek permission to locate it. The owners wife was all for me finding the ring and thought it was generous of me to spend my time trying to locate it for him. I stayed out there for about an hour when she came out there to check to see what all I've found so I showed her the three wheats, old pocket knife, and the trash. Then I showed her a 1942 British three pence that I had found. She thought it was so neat that she decided to text a photo of it to her husband and that's when he responded with with exciting news that translated to "my husband said that you're not allowed to detect anymore and that you need to leave." She apologized and said she doesn't know why he's being such an ass about it and I left without finding the ring. "Now what?" I said, and got in my slowrolla and headed to the oldest part of the town next to ours to do some door knocking. Finally after many attempts I came across a home built in 1880 and the owner said the four words that I love to hear most, "you won't find anything." So I explained how different people use different machines that all don't do the same thing and he said "I've been here for 25 years and the place has been detected at least 5 times since I've been here, but, you're more than welcome to give it a shot. Just fill in your holes." "Even better" I thought, I couldn't wait to see what the others had missed. Another hour passes by and apparently the others hit this place hard because all I had found was two gears out of a transmission, about 20 cents in clad, and about 10 pull tabs. At this point I was ready to call it quits but as any detectorist knows one does not simply walk to the car. Swinging back to the slowrolla was pretty quiet until I got another one of those dang 'ol pull tab signals. I almost didn't dig it. I had walked about another five feet before my gut told me to go back. I'm glad I did because that's the moment I found my first class ring and this is also my first gold ring! At this moment, I'm pretty stoked and the home owner had left me there cause he had to go run errands and I couldn't ask him about it. When I got home I cleaned it up and that's when I found it was 10k. Also, it revealed the initials B.L.W. Now I've got the graduating year (75), the initials, and the high school he graduated from so I wondered if it were possible to find this guy, you know, cause of technology and stuff. The search began! I ended up finding an alumni page on Facebook so I requested to join. For some reason they accepted me and I made my first post that said something like "hey I'm looking for someone with the initials B.L.W. who graduated in 75 and may or may not have hung around such and such street". I got a response from a lady who was confidant that the man I was looking for was Billy Lee White. She said she had went to school with him. Google Time! One result with that name in the area. No contact info or anything. Every website on all of the internet wants you to pay for it. Back to Facebook. There are 10,000 Billy lee whites in the world but none in the area of where I found the ring. A few days later I get another message from a guy who said that he lived on the street next to the road where I found the ring and he said that he remember the Whites living there and said they had two sons, one's name was Alan and he couldn't remember the others. So now I know Billy has to be my guy. The hunt begins again with be trying to find his brother. I found him through one of the members of the alumni groups friends list so I sent him a message stating what was going on. No return. While browsing his Facebook a few days later I found out that he has a daughter so I sent her a message as well. Again, no response. A couple days go by and I make a post in the alumni page with the info that I've received and I get a response saying that Alan works at a place in my area so I Google it and give them a call. Alan works 3rd shift which starts at 11pm. "great" I said. I figured I was going to set an alarm and call around 3am and in the meantime I'll try to find a yearbook to see if I can get an idea of what this guy may look like. I literally found every one of them up until about 1970. Then the lady who contacted me with the name of the initials told me that he didn't graduate from the school that's on the ring because halfway through '74 they were all forced to move to the brand new school they call "Eastern". So there wasn't a yearbook for that year anyway ha ha ha. She also told me that she could probably find his info through some of her friends so she was going to try and get me a phone number. A day passed and she came through! I now have a phone number to the owner of the ring! I call him and confirm who he is and all his answers were very short and monotone. Then I tell him I have his class ring and all he had to say was "okay." WHAT?!?!?! THAT'S IT?! THAT'S ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY?! I couldn't believe that he wasn't even halfway exited or surprised. So I then ask when and where he wanted to meet and of all the places in the world he chose McDonald's. Whatever, I'm ready to give this ring back and end this. I finally get to McDonald's and I meet this giant of a man (the ring is a size 12-13) and I introduce myself and tell him that I can't believe that I actually found him and he kind of halfway smiled. The moment came and I dropped the ring in his hand and at the moment he laid eyes on it I saw the biggest smile id ever seen. He couldn't be more excited! He went around the building to everyone he could find and explained what I had done. He had even called the newspaper after he had gotten off the phone with me and asked if he could get my contact info before I left. We sat and chatted a while and I found out that he lost the ring in 75 (41 years ago) while mowing the grass. It had vibrated off because it was a little too big at the time. He was so upset about it that he went inside after he was done and told his dad that he hoped that all the grass dies and never grows back ha ha ha. He offered to pay me for all my hard work and I politely declined and said "If I wanted money I would have just scrapped it for its gold content" and he laughed and said, "Ha Ha I guess you're right". We talked a little more and eventually parted ways. It's amazing what we can do with social media, I mean, think about it, a week ago all I had were B.L.W., a high school name, a graduation year, and a street name. My father was telling me about all the class rings he's found over the years and had no way of finding their owners cause he never found them in a yard. They were always at schools and parks. He said "the only way you would be able to find the owner is if you found it in a yard where the family still lived there." and he's right. I just think its crazy how far technology has come and how it positively effects the metal detecting community.