By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • The News-Journal has a mystery on its hands that belongs on someone else’s hand.
In other words: hey, Joe, the News-Journal has your class ring.
It’s a lost trinket that’s been sitting around the newspaper office for a while now, tucked away in a drawer. Maybe someone out there, whether Joe himself, a classmate, friend or family member, can help reunite the memento with its owner.
It’s not easily clear to somebody without a jeweler’s eye – in other words, it’s not easily clear to a certain News-Journal writer – whether this ring is a 1974 original, or maybe a special purchase Joe made later in life to remember high school days gone by. But there are clues here and there. And like any good class ring it tells a story of teenage days, what mattered to Joe and what he most wanted to remember.
There are a few things we can guess about Joe.
First and most obvious, we know that his name or at least his nickname is Joe. Three letters, short and sweet enough to engrave on one side of his class ring.
Well, that part was easy.
Secondly, he was probably born around 1956 and would be in his mid-60s today. We know Joe graduated with the Hoke County High School Class of 1974. If he was 18 when he walked the stage, he’d be 65 or 66 today.
Joe must have enjoyed his time at Hoke High well enough, because he chose to have the class year put on the other side of the ring opposite his name. He probably didn’t know back then that it would be one of the big clues that might help get his ring back to him.
Joe must like the color blue, or at least he did back in high school. The smooth, oval stone set in the ring is not the classic Hoke High red, but a deep, dark sapphire color. The manufacturer’s website says the stone could be a blue spinel or a blue zircon if the ring were made today, but as an older ring, maybe it’s something else.
Around the stone, thankfully, is engraved “Hoke County High,” or this hunt for Joe would be a lot harder. Inside the band of the ring are the words “Gold Lance Trillium.” That’s the brand name of the company that made it, and the mix of different types of metals in the ring.
Joe picked a sturdy, wide band and classic design for his class ring. He probably wore it at least a while, if the mild wear on the inside of the band and the tiny dings and scratches on the outside are anything to go by.
It’s still in pretty good shape, though. May we all be so lucky as Joe’s ring when we make it to our 48th class reunion. Maybe Joe will be even luckier and get his ring back before 2024, which will mark the 50th Class Reunion for the Bucks of ’74.
Maybe Joe didn’t always take his ring off while working outdoors, or so we might guess, because Joe was a proud member of Future Farmers of America when he was a student in high school. On one of the two sides of the class ring, he chose to have the FFA emblem engraved. Besides giving a hint at his possible career as an adult, that also includes a clue that this ring is probably an older one, after all.
Under the eagle in the FFA emblem the engraving says in small letters, “Vocational Agriculture.” That’s different from the FFA logo used today, which instead says “Agricultural Education.” An internet search shows FFA changed its logo from “Vocational Agriculture” to “Agricultural Education” in 1989.
Based on the emblem design, even if Joe bought his class ring as a memento well after his actual graduation, it was probably made sometime between 1974 and 1989.
Finally, the last piece of the puzzle isn’t all that helpful in tracking down Joe, but it’s still special. Engraved on the side of the ring bearing his name is a large and powerful whitetail buck, antlers proudly raised and tail flying. Buck pride, you know.
So if you’re out there, Joe, do let us know. Or if you’re out there, someone who knows Joe, let us know. Email [email protected] or call (910) 875-2121.
Or stop by our office if you can at 119 West Elwood Avenue in downtown Raeford. We’d love to give you back your ring and talk with you about what you’ve been up to since 1974.
Now, we’re not going to hand the ring over to just any old Joe. A memento like this deserves to get back to its rightful owner. So if you come to see us, Joe, please bring some identification, and maybe your Hoke High diploma if you’ve still got it floating around, or an old yearbook or photo.
And if the ring fits, you’ll get to wear it again.