“Dirt fishing” unearths long-lost memento

Man uncovers 30-year-old lost class ring at old Invermere high school grounds

Jim Maione was “just wandering around swinging my metal detector” earlier this spring at the old David Thompson Secondary School site when the beeps alerted him to a buried treasure he thought was going to be a quarter. But his find was of much more value: it was a class ring from 1980 that was engraved with the long-ago owner’s name.

“I searched her up on Facebook,” he said. He made some calls and tracked down Mance Visentin in Cranbrook.

“The first thing I said was ‘this isn’t a crank call,’” he recalled.

Even so, that’s what Ms. Visentin thought.

“When he first called, I thought maybe it was like a scam or something. I had almost forgotten that I had lost it. Actually I had talked to my mom and she remembers me losing it because she had paid for it,” Ms. Visentin said with a laugh.

That reminder brought back memories of her own.

“I was pretty upset that I’d lost it,” she said. “It meant a lot to me, and back then it was the in thing to order a grad ring.”

Ms. Visentin bought a replacement ring, which was a better fit, but never liked it as much as the one that slipped off her finger on the ball diamond 39 years earlier.

When Mr. Maione met with Ms. Visentin to reunite her with her ring, he said: “She was doing a pretty good job of being excited… She didn’t stop grinning the whole time.”

Mr. Maione took up metal detecting several years ago after he got a sleep apnea machine and found himself suddenly feeling wide awake, refreshed and with more than enough time to start a hobby. Metal detecting – or “dirt fishing” – was going to offer some good exercise and incentive for him to get outside and be more active.

Over the years, he has unearthed lots of coins, around a dozen rings and a few lockets and medallions. Most of his finds don’t include the owner’s name or clues for how to track them down, but he returns his treasures to the original owners when he can.

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