When Ruth Ann Lewis was a junior at Poland High School in Poland, Ohio, she traded her class ring with her steady boyfriend, Pete. They were an on-again, off-again kind of couple and a little over a year later, after they graduated, they broke up. Lewis asked Pete to return her ring, but he had lost it.
The pair graduated in 1946 and up until a few weeks ago Lewis, whose maiden name was Nicolls, had never seen the ring again.
But recently Lewis got a phone call at her home in Oakton. At first she thought it was a telephone solicitor. She almost hung up when the caller asked, "Are you Ruth Ann Nicolls?" But then the caller said he had found Lewis’ high school ring.
"I was speechless," Lewis said.
The man who found the ring, Ted Cikovich, currently lives in Poland and frequently searches the town with his metal detector. He was searching a local park when he found the ring. It was buried under two inches of soil, but was still in perfect condition with no dents or scratches.
"Poland has a little park with a pavilion," Lewis said. "My girlfriends and I would go there on Sunday afternoons. We would grill hot dogs and marshmallows. The worst thing we ever did was learn to smoke cigarettes. The boys would come over whenever they were looking for the girls."
Because they spent so much time at the park, Lewis does not remember the specific moment when her former boyfriend lost the ring.
WHEN CIKOVICH found it, though, he immediately started searching for the owner. The inside of the ring was etched with the letters RAN, Lewis’s initials before marriage. Using those initials as a clue, Cikovich visited the local library. He could not find a 1946 yearbook, but he learned that the high school recently published an alumni directory. The directory included Lewis’s married name, her current address and phone number.
"When [Cikovich] called I said, ‘I’m 73, I could have been dead.’ He said, ‘I thought about that.’"
And now that Lewis has the ring her former boyfriend, Pete, is off the hook. At every high school reunion over the 56 years since graduation, Lewis has mentioned the ring. She would remind Pete how much the lost ring angered her mother.
"Even after my mother passed away, I still gave him a bad time," Lewis said. "I would say, ‘My mother’s dead, but she’s still mad at you.’"