The year was 1979. The U.S. President was Jimmy Carter. The price of a first-class stamp was 15 cents. The Album of the Year was Saturday Night Fever by the Bee Gees and the Academy Award for Best Picture went to "The Deer Hunter." This was also the year when high school junior Mary Jo Rafferty sadly lost her beloved class ring in the dunes during a beach party in Surf City, N.C.
She had been sitting on the railing of one of the walkways above the beach when the ring slipped off her finger and fell into the sand below. It was dark and the immediate search for the ring proved fruitless.
"A couple of my friends tried to help me find it," Rafferty told a reporter from CBS affiliate WNCT. "We went back the next day and looked and couldn't find it. We went back a couple of times over the next few weeks and I figured it was just gone forever."
Well, not exactly forever.
Late in June, the class ring that had been tumbled in the North Carolina surf for 33 years came rolling onto the beach less than a mile from where it was originally lost.
Tricia Lewis was vacationing with her family at Surf City when the class ring made a surprise appearance. "I was just sitting on the beach reading a book when this wave came up [close], so I was going to move back a little farther," she said. "When I stood up, laying right there on the wet sand was a ring."
The class ring design revealed a number of clues, including the owner's initials, the Dixon High bulldog and a raised inscription surrounding the sapphire stone.
As soon as Lewis returned to her home in Virginia after her vacation, she used the Internet to find the school and contact its vice principal, who eventually assisted in identifying the owner. Apparently Rafferty was the only one in her graduating class with her initials.
Rafferty told WNCT that she was shocked when her mom called about the lost ring. "What are the chances of finding something after that length of time? That's a lifetime," she said.
The ring held up well after 33 years in the salty surf. Except for a few green discolorations, the 10-karat gold and sapphire ring was looking nearly as good as new.
“It made me think,” Rafferty told JDNews.com. “Maybe nothing’s ever lost forever.”