The Gold Ring

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Betty Frazier 1953 Senior

Re-Uniting Betty and her long (ago) lost ring

by Scott Speer

1953 Girl's AHS Senior Ring Found!

              It all started on a cool, drizzly day in early October 2005.  I had arrived at the field just around 9 am that morning and I had about 4 hours of detecting time before I had to go to work.  From what I can remember of that day, I hadn’t found all that much.  The field that I was hunting had a lot of iron, rusted nails and old farming tools that were scattered throughout the field. 

I had never owned a metal detector in my life. One day in early August 2005 my wife said to me, “We ought to get a metal detector.  You and the boys can get out and try to find some old coins and jewelry.”  We decided around the middle of the month to go ahead and purchase one over the internet at Kellyco Metal Detectors.  We didn’t want to spend too much money in case we didn’t use it all that much.  After it was ordered, it was a week before it arrived.  Seeing how we were stationed in the United Kingdom, one week was quick shipping by anyone’s standard. 

Needless to say, my wife, two boys and I made our way out to a local field to see what we could find.  We didn’t have any amazing finds our first few times out, but I became obsessed with detecting.  I enjoyed detecting so much, I convinced my wife into letting me purchase another detector so the two of us could get out together with the boys.  We decided to get the Garrett GTI 2500.  This was, and still is the top of the line detector from Garrett Detectors.  Our first detector was the Garrett Ace 250 and while it was a great little machine, I wanted something with more “bells and whistles”.   

Within two weeks of receiving the GTI-2500, I made my best find to date.  On that cool October day, I was making my way back towards my vehicle moving along the edge of the field when I got a solid signal on my detector.  The detector was telling me that the object was 6 to 7 inches deep.  I dug down and at first I couldn’t locate the object.  I looked a little closer and I saw the object with mud still caked to it.  At first look, it appeared to be a button with gold coloring and I would have been truly happy with that.  Once I bent down and had it in my hand, I realized it wasn’t a button after all.  It was a gold ring!  This was my first gold ring and I was very excited.  I looked closer and found out that it was a woman’s class ring from 1953.  Once I got home, I used some warm tap water and a soft toothbrush to cleanse away the dirt.  The ring had the date of 1953 and in small letters I could make out Albany with what appeared to be an Indian.  The stone was a Sapphire and a small piece of gold was on top of the stone with the school name and the mascot.  Additionally, there were a set of initials on the inside.  (I’m not going to give all the initials due to privacy concerns, but the first one is a B for Ms. Betty)

I searched on the internet and found Albany high schools listed and I narrowed it down to a couple that may have an Indian as a mascot.  After sending some emails to the schools and not getting any responses, I gave up with the search.

Fast forward three years to 25 Jan 2009.  I woke up that morning and was surfing the internet on a metal detecting website.  A woman on the site had found a class ring and had located the original owner of that ring.  The gentleman had lost the ring about 20 years earlier and she located him with some help from the internet.  After seeing that she had returned the ring, I felt it was time once again for me to try and find the owner of the class ring that I had found.  

I found a website that brought my search to an end.  After finding www.albanyhightimes.com I sent an email to the webmaster.  I noticed that Mrs. Beverly Smith Herrington had graduated in the class of 1955 and that she may know the person who the ring belonged to.  Within a few hours of sending her the email, I received an email saying that she had narrowed down that the ring belonged to Ms. Betty.  No one else in the graduating class of 1953 had those initials. 

Three days later, I was talking with Ms. Betty asking her where she thought she lost the ring.  She wasn’t sure where she lost it, but she went through a list of assignments that she accompanied her husband on and one of the assignments was at Lakenheath Air Base, United Kingdom.  I informed her that she lost her ring while stationed there.  As it turns out, the apartment that she lived in between 1960-1963 (the time frame of when she was in the UK with her husband), had been torn down some years after she and her husband left the UK.  The apartment that she once lived in was located in the very field that I hunted.

I was pleased that I hadn’t let this get the best of me and I was able to finally locate the owner.  For over three years, I was the caretaker of this ring.  I had treated it gently during this time and it resided with other rings, earrings and jewelry that I had found.  Prior to going to the post office this week, I stopped by Crown Jeweler’s here in Altus, Oklahoma to see if they would mind cleaning the ring before I sent it back to Betty.   Not only did the staff at Crown polish it, they also straightened the ring out from a small bend in the band.  Top notch folks who appreciated the story of tracking Betty down. 

In all, this ring had been lost for at least 42 years from the time that I found it on that cool drizzly October day in 2005.  While I have made finds that are many times older and more valuable than this ring, THIS has been my best find to date.  Why??  Because I was able to do the right thing and return it.  The ring is back with the original owner after all these years and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I did ask Ms. Betty for one thing and one thing only—a picture of her with the ring on her finger.  She told me that wouldn’t be a problem and I look forward to receiving it.  When she first heard about the ring, she mentioned that she never remembered losing it, but from the email that I received from her after the ring was back in her possession, she is a very happy lady.

This has been the highlight of my detecting experiences.  I’m grateful to all the helpful folks along the way who helped me locate Ms. Betty.  Thank you to Beverly, Tommy Pattison and Ernie Frazier.  You have made this experience very worthwhile to me.   

Scott Speer

 


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