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The Mystery of the Lost Ring

Published: Monday, April 15, 2013 12:01 p.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

Ten years or so ago, Ernie Corso of rural Albia (Hocking) was cleaning one of his rental properties, getting it ready for another renter. He came across a woman’s high school class ring. 

On the ring, quite plainly, was “1977 Point Pleasant.” Ernie had never heard of Point Pleasant, so he put the ring in his pocket and didn’t think much about it. That evening, while emptying his pockets before bed, he noticed the ring again. 

It was quite pretty in 14 carat gold with a red garnet stone. In tiny letters on the side of the ring, he could make out “Black Knights,” the name of the high school sports team, no doubt. 

He had never heard of that school team. Ernie hung the ring on a chain above his desk. There it hung for more than 10 years.

Recently, while at his desk paying bills, Ernie happened to notice that there was an inscription on the inside of the ring. Getting out his magnifier, he could decipher the name “Debbie Hammick.”

Ernie’s interest was piqued. Some details about Ernie Corso: He is 82 years old. With his wife, Loretta, they live in the same house Ernie went to school in. Yep. Ernie had his picture taken on the steps of that school when he was a student, and still has that picture.

Hocking isn’t a town anymore, but it once was a thriving coal mining town of 2,000 people, just south of Albia. Ernie was instrumental in getting the town’s name, Hocking, put back on the State of Iowa map. He is known as the “Mayor of Hocking” and can point out where mines and old cemeteries used to be. 

He and a friend located the cemeteries with the help of a “witching stick.” Some of Ernie’s most prized possessions are Hocking memorabilia. Therefore, it goes without saying that Ernie loves a mystery. 

The ring with a woman’s name on it, was a mystery to solve. With the help of his son, some exhaustive computer work that involved classmate.com, Google, and whitepages.com, they discovered that it wasn’t “Point Pleasant” but “Pleasant Point” in Gallipolis, Ohio, and that Debbie Hammic was now Debbie Barcus.

Through lots of phone calls and dead ends, he was finally able to talk to Debbie Barcus (Hammick). She is married to Rick Barcus, who is the pastor of the Addison Free Will Baptist Church in Gallipolis, Ohio.

Ernie’s son-in-law took a picture of the ring, attached it to an email, and sent it to Debbie. Yep, it was her ring all right.

Unbelievable. She has never been in Iowa and has no idea how her class ring wound up in Iowa. She lost the ring about the time she was married. Coincidentally, she had just been looking for the ring, because her high school class reunion is coming up and she wanted to wear it.

Of course, Ernie is sending the ring to Debbie, and she is very appreciative, not to mention amazed that the ring was found after all these years. In Iowa!

Do you know where your high school class ring is? What memories does it hold for you?

PS: After digging for several days, I found my high school class ring. Great day in the morning, I can still get it on!  I wish I could say the say the same about my high school jeans!

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