New Hampshire

A woman lost her N.H. class ring in 1968. A treasure hunter found and returned it 55 years later

A man with a metal detector found Mary Proulx's class ring, lost 55 years ago on a night out with her boyfriend, in Manchester, New Hampshire

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The year was 1968. Marilyn Dakos was 18 years old and a graduating senior from Manchester Central High School in New Hampshire when she lost her class ring.

"I remember the night distinctly, like it was yesterday," said Marilyn, who now goes by her married name Proulx.

"It was new. My parents had bought me my ring as a graduation present," she laughed as she continued. "And my boyfriend at the time and I went parking. Those days you went parking, I don't know what young people do today. But anyway, I showed my boyfriend."

She said he tried it on and then dropped it when he stepped out to go to the bathroom.

"So we get out of the car, we go where we think he was, and we're searching all over the place. We don't find the ring. I went back the next day searched again and no ring. That's the last time I saw the ring," Proulx said.

Given the circumstances, she didn't dare tell her parents.

"My parents are gone, thank the lord, now that this story came out. Although they are probably looking down and laughing, hopefully," said Proulx jokingly.

Fifty-five years later, she received a call from her cousin, who had noticed a message online from a Manchester man named Norm Brown.

"Somebody's trying to find you on the Central High alumni page. She said something about a school ring," Proulx explained.

Brown said he picked up metal detecting as a hobby three years ago after he got a coupon in the mail for a company that was selling metal detectors.

"Obviously, there's a lot of trash on the ground. You wouldn't believe all the pull tabs and beer cans and nails and bullets here in New Hampshire, but it just amazes me the things you could pull out of the ground," said Brown. "You could pull money, treasure, stupid little things. I found a little cast iron fry pan, an inch and a half diameter with a pour spout — a simple little thing. It thrilled me."

Francesca Teal's Facebook post on a page for metal detector enthusiasts was shared over 3,000 times; eight days after Teal lost her heirloom ring at North Beach in Hampton, New Hampshire, metal detector hobbyist Lou Asci found it buried in four inches of sand.

This summer, he decided to search the grassy area near the parking lot at Crystal Lake.

"I was just doing a pass back and forth trying to cover the whole thing, and I hear the signal, I dug it up I was thrilled," he said. "It was a gold ring. I couldn't believe it."

It was a 1968 Manchester Central High School class ring, engraved with initials. He turned to the library and found a name that matched in the yearbook. He reached out on Facebook and eventually spoke with her by phone. Proulx moved to Florida 40 years ago, but happened to be in New Hampshire this summer.

"My husband passed away about a year and a half ago," said Proulx. "So, I went home back to New Hampshire and stayed with a friend at the beach."

She decided to spend the whole summer there and received Brown's phone call the last week she was there before returning to Florida.

"Going home and experiencing what I did there, and then the ring at the end of the year, was just sort of a blessing for me," said Proulx. "Just after what I had been through, it's hard. It's still hard, but I'm trying to make the best of it. And my friends and family have been so wonderful in helping me get through the hardest time in my life."

The lucky find — a blast from the past — brought a little joy to two strangers.

"It was one of my highlights of the summer," said Brown. "I'm really glad I brought her some happiness."

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