BREWER, Maine — Avid metal detector enthusiast Harley Jackson was vacationing in Maine with his wife, Phyllis, in 1991 when he unearthed a 1986 Brewer High School class ring at a campground in Holden.
“At the time, we commented we wished we could find the owner,” Phyllis Jackson of Coarsegold, Calif., said in a recent email. “Not having Internet nor cellphones in those days we went on about our trip. About two weeks ago I was cleaning out my storage unit and found a jar with some coins in it. When I checked out the jar I found the ring, and immediately went to the Internet.”
She quickly found Brewer High School and contacted school Superintendent Jay McIntire.
Coincidentally, around the same time that Jackson came across the class ring with the words “Brewer Witches” embossed across it and the initials “EPA” etched inside, Brewer High School graduate Ed Percy Arey of Bangor was having a conversation with his wife Carol about that very topic.
“Just a couple weeks ago I mentioned to my wife, after seeing something on TV with somebody who found something they lost 30 years ago, that I wondered whatever happened to my class ring,” Arey, 46, said. “I thought, ‘It’s just got to be floating around somewhere.’ And then I get a phone call from Brewer School Department asking if I lost my class ring.”
The 78-year-old California woman sent an email to McIntire on Dec. 27, saying her late husband Harley, who died in 2007, found a Brewer class ring with his metal detector when they were visiting Maine in 1991. They had visited Bar Harbor and stopped by the Red Barn Campground in Holden, which is where Arey had once worked.
“After checking a yearbook from 1986, I found two potential owners,” McIntire said. “One of them is now an employee of the school district, but he said he did not lose a ring. The second, Ed Arey, of Bangor, did.”
The superintendent put Jackson and Arey in contact with each other.
Arey said he lost his class ring in 1985, the summer before he graduated, shortly after it was returned to him by a former girlfriend when the two broke up.
The ring arrived back in Maine on Monday, but since Arey works nights, it did not actually get into his hands until Tuesday. McIntire, who was not available, sent administrative assistant Debbie Brooks to meet Arey at the Holden campground where the ring was originally lost nearly 28 years ago.
“It still fits, 40 pounds later,” Arey said. “I can’t get it off.”
The Bucksport millworker said the first place he was going was to see his dad, Donald Arey, in Brewer, who only learned last week that his son had lost the ring they purchased together.
At the time he lost the ring, “I thought my father was going to kill me. I never told him,” Arey admitted.
“I’m heading to his house now,” he said, clutching the ring and Jackson’s letter explaining how she found it and him and how she cleaned the ring with jewelry cleaner before sending it home.
“I can’t believe how good of shape it’s in,” he said. “That was out and about for five years before it was found [by Jackson].”
“She’s a very nice lady,” Arey said of Jackson, after speaking to her on the phone last week. “She said she had lost hers back in the day and thought it was important to find the owner of this one.”
Jackson said the mystery of the ring finally being solved would surely please her treasure-seeking husband, Harley Jackson.
“When I talked to Ed Arey, he said that about two weeks ago he mentioned to his wife that he wondered if someone had found the ring,” Jackson said. “Having found it two weeks ago I am sure that God made this happen. [And] Yes, I am sure my husband is as happy about this as I am.”