Lost Class Rings Returned 40 Years Later
By: Lorrie Sprigg
Never in my wildest dreams would I have believed that I would find two class rings while detecting on Daytona Beach, two weeks apart, and then find both owners as well.
It all started while I was metal detecting at Sebastian Inlet, looking for the elusive Spanish Treasure that everyone seemed to be finding. I got up very early to drive down to the famous "Treasure Coast." I knew I was in the right place at the right time, for my husband Jerry and I were finding coins, although not Spanish ones. Evidently, the area hadn't been hunted yet.
Soon I got a good hit and dug up what appeared to be a religious medal. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention when a wave came in and drowned my detector. I was sick. Now, after driving all that way, I had no detector. I went home.
Later, I researched the medal I had found, and learned that it is called a "Miraculous Medal." Whoever possesses it is blessed with good graces.
Well, the next day I went down to Kellyco, where I buy all of my metal detecting supplies, and got the Beach Hunter ID that I had in layaway. I wasn't going to be without a detector! We then went to Daytona Beach.
After getting down on the beach, and about 25 yards out and on the third try, I scooped up my very first gold ring, a 1964 high school ring. I was ecstatic. Wow! When you see gold shining back at you, it does something! Now finding the owner would be my next quest.
During the following weeks I returned to the same spot and found not only a man's gold ring and a silver turquoise ring but also another class ring from the year 1963. Here we go again!
I went home and started my search. I found the 1964 ring to be Clarkston High School from Clarkston, Georgia, the home of the Angoras. Finally, I got through to the school library, where Katanya J. Cobb, the assistant librarian, came to my assistance. Her students went through old yearbooks and found a name that matched the engraved initials L.E.M.: Larry Eugene Mitchell.
I was so excited that I contacted my boss, Tina Fairing, who just happened to be working late at the office. She put the name in the computer, and up popped several possibilities. We worked around the area of the high school in Georgia. I called each number in anticipation of reaching the owner. On the seventh try, in Jackson, Georgia, as I began describing the ring I had found, the person on the other end finished the statement!
I screamed, "I found you, I found you!" I think he thought I was crazy but it was a thrill. He said he had lost the ring during spring break, and that I had found it exactly where he thought he had lost it. What a trip. You gotta love the internet!
The other ring was from Christian County; I had no idea where to look. However, I noticed what looked like Colonel Sanders on the side and, sure enough, I found the school in Kentucky, the home of the Colonels. I then e-mailed the Kentucky New Era newspaper in Hopkinsville, and with the help of Stacie McCormick, the classified advertising representative, placed an ad in the Lost & Found section.
On the second day, I got a phone call. It was Jean McGee, the sister of the ring's owner, Elizabeth (Sanders) Townsend, who goes by the name Beth. She was calling from Kentucky. I just about fell off the couch!
She had received a call from her friend Ben Wood, asking "Where is your sister Beth?" When Jean seemed puzzled by the question, Ben said, "Have you seen the Lost & Found column yet?" Actually, Jean had been looking in the ads, but missed mine, for a found cat. "Sounds like your sister's ring," Ben added. The initials and the year did indeed match those on Beth's ring.
After having a great conversation with Jean, I was given Beth's phone number where she now lives in Columbus, Georgia. I called, and she couldn't believe the ring was hers. She wanted to check in the yearbook to see if it might belong to a classmate. As we talked, I learned that she had lost her ring during spring break, too.
I think that first find, the Miraculous Medal, really had something to do with these events. This has been a great trip for me, not only to find two gold class rings 40 years later, but also to be able to return them to their owners. Who knows? Maybe it really was a miracle!