They say every great story has a beginning, middle, and end…in this case, I will start in the middle.
Saturday the 6th of November being my birthday and the temperature being slightly above freezing with precipitation at near 100% I thought “what better way to spend my birthday than swinging my detector in the middle of a soybean field?” This day I was hunting a permission I gained this year which (later will seem) was oddly the site of a one-room schoolhouse from about 1865 to roughly the 1940s. I feel good now that I braved the elements for this hobby I love but knowing now that the next day I would start to develop symptoms of COVID thinking it was my yearly sinus cold…well hindsight is 20/20 but I might have reconsidered. In this case, I would soon come to be reminded that EVERYthing tends to happen for a reason.
I wasn’t finding much after about 40 minutes, a few copper or brass relics, buttons, toe taps, random bits of this and that. This and the driving wind made me decide I’d give it one more pass and then go home and warm up. I headed back to my car swinging low and slow but not terribly hopeful…but wait there it was a gold tone, repeatable signal. Wow I thought, I’m about to dig an amazing piece of compressed foil, I laughed to myself. I dug my plug brought my pinpointer out and realized my precious reward was in a dirt clump, I cracked it open and to my surprise, it was not foil, but a gold ring..and not a plated one it seemed…well, and not a complete ring but the entire top half of a class ring I could clearly read it said 69. Wow, 1969, at this site? Well, happy birthday to me!
I took a quick phone pic, put it in my keeper box, and headed home excitedly thinking wow, my first class ring, could this be my first return but at the same time doing the math I thought…there is a good chance the person who lost this may not be with us…but a better chance than not she was (I’d already figured it looked like woman’s design in 10K gold). Immediately I cleaned it ever so carefully and realized the initials KF were on it as well in extremely small font Caledonia and Scotts (Caledonia’s mascot), bingo. I knew the school, the year, and the initials. A quick Facebook post and some huge help from a friend from Caledonia who also happens to be the Admin. to a group I’m in and I had feelers everywhere returning to me the same name over and over from people that either remember her or people that were children of her classmates. Within less than 24 hours I had a name, a confirmation, an email address and was told she’d soon be contacting me…and she did, this is that first correspondence from Kathleen (FYI, she’s fine with being in this article, I asked her ahead of time 🙂 I have to give her any residuals coming from the made for TV “based on a true story” movie, however)
It seems as though you’ve found my class ring I lost over 50 years ago!
A mysterious message came this morning from someone I didn’t know suggesting he may have found something of mine and after a short back-and-forth with Joe Palamateer, we decided it must be the ring I lost. I recognized the picture and, for the life of me, cannot think of any other girls in my class with the initials KF. Small class, many of whom I was with since kindergarten.
My memory is that I lost it when I was a nurse’s aide during high school at the old Pine Rest mental facility. I probably hadn’t had a chance to wear it for more than a couple of months when I lost it, washing my hands I think…lots of handwashing in that job! Where the heck did you find it?.
I explained to her I found it about 11 miles away from where she’d thought she lost it in the middle of a crop field and I had a few theories about how it got there.
After talking with Kathleen one theory seems to make the most sense and having talked to a few farmers it actually pans out. In 1969 when Kathleen was a nurse’s aide she worked in the geriatric women’s buildings 3 and 4. These were very old and possibly had septic as opposed to sanitary connections. My theory was then that they’d pumped this septic system and spread it on to the field I found the ring in.
Well, actually it gets simpler or should I say weirder than that? Come to find out the state of Michigan as well as many states are allowed (for the time being at least) to take the sludge from wastewater treatment plants concentrate this and treat it and turn it into “Biosolids”. This biosolid material would normally be shipped to a landfill. A cheaper alternative to this is what municipalities like Grand Rapids does, work with farmers and spread this biosolid on farm fields to be tilled into the first 12 inches of soil…yep, this happens. Free fertilizer to enrich the soil (not without some possible issues I won’t get into in this article). In fact, in 2017 47% of all biosolids was “land applied”. So it is safe to assume, that somehow this little gold ring, went from sink drain to sewer system and then one way or another spread onto the field. And there I found it, over 50 years later. It is a strange world folks.
I have now sent the ring back to Kathleen as you can see by the recent of her smiling. The other photo is Kathleen’s Senior picture and a close-up of the ring. She’s a printmaker by trade, resides with her husband in New York State and as you can see is happy to have this find back in her hands 🙂 She’s told me she has been interested in what us “detectorists” do ever since watching the TV series by the same name. She’s also joined the FB group that helped to track her down and often contributes to the discussions in this group as she seems to like seeing and learning about what we find.
The end of this story…I’ve said it over and over, the best finds I make in this hobby are usually the relationships found enjoying it. I am glad to have met Kathleen and returned this ring to her just before Christmas. She plans on repairing it after Christmas using a ring she found swimming years ago.
I think that is a great idea, we’ve came full circle, using one person’s find to repair another’s.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Detecting Family!
Brian Tobias is a XP Deus user as well as a Garrett Fanboy still swinging his Garrett ATPro as well as a selection of older detectors, such as the White’s XLT. His venture into detecting started as a boy after randomly finding a few metal relics in the fields where he hunted Native American artifacts. His grandfather suggested he try to increase his metal finding odds and handed him his old Jetco Mustang metal detector. There was no turning back from there and a hobby grew from a boy of 15 to to now a “detectorist” at 48. Brian detects mostly in West Michigan and specializes in field detecting and researching old home sites dating from the mid 1800’s. He’s also heavily involved with his local detecting community in Michigan, belongs to several groups, mentors people new to the hobby, serves as the secretary to the Southwest Michigan Seek & Search Club and publishes their monthly newsletter. He also enjoys conserving the relics he finds using electrolysis to clean and preserve relics for himself and others. For him this hobby is about the history that each find represents and increasing the knowledge of that history for those people that seek it today.