I had been doing some research to find new areas to metal detect when I discovered a field behind a local supermarket that was a park from 1925, to 1980. I decided to try and get to the field with my metal detector and see what I could find. When I pulled into the back of the store I didn’t see any other cars. I got myself together as quickly as I could and got on into the woods before somebody from the supermarket could tell me I was trespassing.
Studying the site with old aerial photographs from the 1940s, and newer satellite imagery on Google Earth did not prepare me for how difficult it would be to get through the heavy tangle of brush and thistles. I really had to fight my way through thorn bushes and brambles that caught my hat, pants, sleeves, and skin with almost every step.
After a few minutes, some scratches, and a lot of cussing, I finally made it to the clearing. I took a quick look around the large field, turned on my machine, and dialed in my settings. I decided to start working my way to the far side of the field and turned around to start swinging my detector. Well, I almost jumped out of my skin!
There was an older man using a metal detector not 100-feet away from me. His back was to me as he swept his coil back and forth, and I was pretty sure he hadn’t seen me either. When he got over to the other side of the field and turned around, I waved to try and get his attention. He either didn’t see me or, just decided not to acknowledge me.
I shook it off and walked down to the east end of the field to give him plenty of room. I started finding some coins from the 1970s, and even a few silver coins from the 1950s and ’40s. I had pretty much forgotten about the old man when I heard a voice ask, “Finding anything?”
He was standing about 10-feet from me, with a pleasant smile and easy demeanor. I said, “A couple of silver dimes and a war nickel so far, how about you?” He told me he hadn’t found anything yet, but that he was really looking for his daughter’s lost wedding band. He seemed like a gentle fellow, probably about 70 or so, but in pretty good shape for his age. What struck me was his metal detector. It was an old Garrett machine from around 1975, and it looked brand new.
He said his daughter had bought a house around the corner and was down here playing with her kids when she lost the ring. He explained how it had belonged to his now-deceased wife before he had given it to his daughter. A sad look came over him as he said, “When I got it for my wife, I had it engraved with ‘R.I. Loves C.I.’ which is our initials. My wife died before our Daughter got engaged, but it turns out the initials on the ring were perfect for Ray and Cindy because his last name is Ingram, ours is Ivers, so I knew her mother was looking down on her, and I wanted her to have it.”
I told him I would give a holler if I beeped it. He touched the bill of his tweed cap, said he appreciated it and started swinging back toward the other end of the field. After a moment, I had the thought I should ask him how to get back out to the parking lot without getting all scratched up. I turned around and started to take off my headphones to ask him, but he was gone.
As I began swinging my machine’s coil over the grassy field again, I got a signal almost immediately. “Zip-Zip!” The signal was strong, and the tone was high and sweet. I turned 90-degrees to the target and swept it with the coil again. Zip-Zip! I dropped down on my knee and pulled out my digging tool, cutting a generous plug in the damp soil. As I folded the turf flap out of the hole, I saw it immediately – a small gold ring! For a second or two, I just knelt there looking in the dirt.
I did a little happy dance right there on my knees and picked up the ring to clean it off. It was a plain gold wedding band marked 18K and inscribed “R.I. Loves C.I.” A very strange feeling came over me. I was happy about finding the ring but, something about the old guy was still bothering me. I still couldn’t figure out how he had left the field so quickly.
After finding the ring I decided to call it a day. I thought I would take a look around and see if I could find the path the old guy and his Daughter were using. After about 15-minutes of frustration, I finally went back the way I came in, getting scratched up and bleeding like I had been in a fight with a herd of feral cats.
That evening I cleaned up my finds and laid them out on the kitchen table to admire. I had done pretty well for myself detecting several old silver coins, about $2.00 in modern coins, and the gold wedding band. After dinner, my wife went through the phone book, and found a “R. Ingram,” on a street about a block from the supermarket. I called the number and got an answering machine, so I left my name and number and said I thought I had found their wedding band. Over the next week, I left several more messages but got no response.
I finally decided to drive by the address and see if there was anyone home. After picking up my Wife from work that afternoon, we drove over to the house. There were a couple of cars in the driveway and the lights were on the inside, so we pulled up and parked. I rang the doorbell and an attractive woman in her 40’s answered the door. I asked, “Are you, Cindy?” The woman looked surprised, and then angry! She said, “Are you the guy that keeps calling here about a lost wedding band?” I started to say yes, but she didn’t give me a chance.
She stepped outside and closed the door behind her saying, “I don’t know what kind of scam you two are trying to pull on my Mother, but I’m here to tell you I’m going to have you arrested! You have caused a lot of pain in our family, and I will not stand for it!” Both my wife and I just kind of stood there with our mouths open in total shock. I finally said, “Hold on, miss, I’m just trying to return a wedding band I found over behind the supermarket. I don’t want anything from your Mother.” The woman angrily asked, “What makes you think it belongs to my Mother?” At that point, I was pretty sure this had been a huge mistake.
“Look, I apologize,” I said. “I met this old gentleman, a Mr. Ivers, I think. He was metal detecting over behind the supermarket, and he told me his daughter had lost her wedding band over there while she was playing with her children. Obviously, I have made a mistake.” The woman looked confused, almost dazed. My wife asked her if she was alright.
“Can I see the ring please,” she asked softly? I took the ring out of my pocket and gave it to her. As she looked at it, she began to cry. My wife put her hand on her shoulder and again asked her if she was alright. The woman was weeping now. A man came out of the house and asked her what was wrong. She put the ring in his hand and said, “He found Mom’s wedding ring.”
The woman looked at me and said, “What did the man in the park look like? What did he say?” I had a bad feeling about the whole situation and said, “Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but if that’s your Mother’s ring, then just keep it. I don’t want anything from you.” I took my wife’s hand and started for the car when the woman said, “I’m sorry, please, wait!”
“My Mom lost that ring in 1975. I was seven, and he was nine,” she said, pointing to the man on the porch who was still examining the ring. “We were throwing my Brother’s new football around, and she lost her ring somehow. She was heartbroken because it had belonged to her mother before her.” My wife was out of the car now with her arm around the teary woman’s shoulder. I said, “So who is Mr. Ivers, the guy that told me about the ring at the old park?” The woman began crying uncontrollably again.
My wife was trying to comfort her, offering a tissue from her pocketbook. I hadn’t noticed the man walking over to the car until he took his Sister’s hand. “Mr. Ivers was our Grandfather,” he said in a soft, gentle voice. Hugging his Sister, he continued, “Pop-pop had a heart attack and died in that park 36-years ago. He was looking for Mom’s ring with his new metal detector.” My legs suddenly became rubbery, and I sat down on the curb, stunned.
It had been almost eight months since my encounter with Mr. Ivers, and today we were guests at his Great Granddaughter’s wedding. We stood as “Here Comes the Bride” flowed joyously from the organ and filled the small church with music. A ray of sunshine came through the stained glass windows, illuminating the gold band the Bride wore on a delicate chain around her neck. I smiled as I caught sight of him standing at the back of the church. He smiled back at me, tipped his tweed cap then disappeared.