Potomac Last Monday I received a message from my alma mater, New York University, to inform me that someone was trying to contact me about a lost school class ring. They also sent me a photograph of the ring showing my name inscribed on the inside. Yes, I had indeed lost my class ring … but that was in 1965, 49 years ago.
Let me see if I can reconstruct that distant memory of how the ring was lost. I was born in The Bronx and lived there ‘til after I graduated college in 1964. Upon graduation, I gave the girl I was dating at the time my school ring. It was to indicate that we were “going steady.” I know that term dates me because I don't believe anyone uses that phrase anymore. It was to signify that we had agreed to date each other exclusively.
One pleasant summer day we drove along the Bronx River Parkway in New York to look for a quiet park area to spread a blanket and enjoy the afternoon together. I can’t remember exactly where we stopped but I remember it being a large open grassy field. She wore the ring on her necklace. When we noticed it was missing, we thoroughly searched the area around where we had been sitting but to no avail. The ring was gone forever, or so we thought.
Anyway the ring was soon forgotten and life went on. I must have eventually forgiven that girl for losing it because two years later, immediately upon returning from a tour of duty in Vietnam, we got married. During the intervening years, we lived first in Connecticut and then, in 1974, moved to Maryland. We’ve lived in Montgomery County now for 40 years and have been in Potomac for the past 32 years. Our two children and four grandchildren just helped us celebrate our 47th wedding anniversary. So I guess even an unfortunate event like losing a ring can still have a happy ending.
Now back to the ring. Apparently it stayed lost somewhere in that field, undisturbed, for eight years until a man named Tony, who enjoyed exploring for things with his metal detector, located it about 1973. Unbelievable! Tony did try to find me but was not successful. Remember this was way before the internet made people searches a lot easier. In addition, my alma mater, NYU’s College of Science & Engineering, no longer existed. Its Bronx campus was sold, along with its engineering programs, to the Polytechnic Institute of New York (which eventually morphed into the current NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering in Brooklyn, N.Y.). That made finding me even more difficult.
So Tony tossed the ring into a tin box where he put all the other items he had unearthed over the years. He passed away seven years ago. Recently his widow, Ann, combed through the pile of pins, crosses and buttons in that tin box, retrieved the ring, and vowed to try again to locate its owner.
With the help of her niece, Maria, and Maria’s husband, Carey, the search led them to the current NYU Alumni Office, and then eventually to me. It took only three days from that first call ‘til, after 49 years, I had the ring back.
During those three days, by exchanging numerous e-mails and letters, I learned a lot about Carey and his family. He and his wife are raising two children, one who coincidently is graduating high school and ordering his first school ring now too. Like many families their days are filled with things like Boy Scouts, preparing for a new dog, long commutes and arduous work schedules. I learned that he was a Marine, an EMT on the streets of New York and is now an ER nurse working 24-hour shifts. In those three days I was introduced to a close, caring family that truly was thrilled to be able to return the ring to me. They took great pride in accomplishing this mission.
Just being afforded this very brief glimpse into the life of a complete stranger and his family, showed me how really terrific, inspiring and empathetic people can be. Bottom line is, I got a lot more than an old ring back.