Found ring spurs memories of ’74
The desk phone gave that two-ring signal that lets you know the call is coming from inside of the building.
The voice on the other end said, “There’s a woman out here who said Steve Wildsmith referred her to you about the ring story.”
“The what?” I asked.
“She said it’s the ring story.”
Puzzled doesn’t even describe my state of mind when I heard those words.
I stopped by the Wild Man’s desk. He quit typing long enough to notice me, pulled the sound plugs from his ears and said, “Yeah, boss?”
“Did you refer a woman to me about some ring story?”
Puzzled doesn’t even describe the look on his face, but his eyes showed a hint of recognition.
“Oh, yeah! She found a class ring and I thought, ‘This one’s for Frank.’”
I meandered out front and there stood a genteel woman, all alone.
“My name is Buzz Trexler. Can I help you?”
Her eyes sparkled as she pulled out a crumpled napkin. Inside was a class ring, and she began to tell me the story.
I invited her back to my office and she went on, recalling that she and her late husband found it in the mid-1970s.
“We pulled up to grocery store in Pigeon Forge. There were two or three cars in the parking lot. There was a nice little sports car,” she said, remembering bits and pieces. “A nice young man got into the car and left.”
She and her husband had a “cabin” in Pigeon Forge but allowed that it was really more than a cabin. “That’s just what we called it.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “I understand completely.”
“A lot of college kids come in after Labor Day; normally hikers and bikers,” she said. “He was tall, slender and good looking.”
I took that comment to mean the young man in the car. But, then again, she may have been remembering her late husband.
She offered that she would soon be 83 years old.
I liked listening to her talk.
At some point, I turned the ring over in my hand and saw the year: 1974.
My ADD kicked in, and my mind began to wander nostalgically.
That was the year I graduated from Elizabethton High School in upper East Tennessee.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t send her to the Classified department, where we normally run Lost & Founds.
Maybe it was because I was reading “Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon,” by Theodore H. White. Nixon resigned in August 1974.
Maybe it was because that was the year I joined the Navy ...
I snapped out of it and heard her saying, “I made phone calls. I wrote letters to the school districts. They gave me some leads,” she said. “I centered on Michigan, but it could have been anywhere.
I looked at the school name: “Salem High.”
“Maybe it’s Salem, Virginia,” I suggested.
Looking at the ring more closely, you can see what seems to be a wildcat, which is probably the school mascot.
Looking on the Internet, there appears to be Salem (Ill.) High School Wildcats, and Salem High School Wildcats in Tylertown, Miss. http://Classmates.com notes there are 54 “Salem High Schools” in its database.
I decided against registering and doing a full database search, leaving it to someone to stumble upon this column on the Internet.
Here’s some hints:
The designer appears to be a “John Roberts.”
The owner ... well, I won’t give the middle initial, but the name is “Jerry _ Walker.”
I went through two high school class rings, which is why I decided not to get a college class ring.
The first one was damaged when a mad-as-hell girlfriend threw it and chipped the stone.
Sometime after that, it disappeared and I reported it as lost.
Insurance replaced it, but then as a young husband and father, I sold it for scrap gold when prices were about $400 an ounce.
Never fear: Even at today’s astronomical price of $1,700 an ounce, Mr. Walker’s ring is safely put away until the finder (who wishes to remain anonymous), or original owner, decides to pick it up.
Here’s to you, Class of ’74!
Frank “Buzz” Trexler is managing editor at The Daily Times. If this is your ring, email him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)