ARCHDALE, N.C. -- A piece of Peggy Clem’s past, missing for 52 years, is back in her hands.
“It’s mind boggling,” said Clem. “It’s all done for a reason I guess and I don’t know what that reason is yet.”
In 1967, Clem was set to be the first in her eastern Kentucky family to graduate high school and she wanted to commemorate it with a class ring. But being one of nine children in a coal mining family she knew she would have to work to pay for it.
“It was rough but I did it,” she said.
She worked for 70 cents an hour at a local school to make $19.95 to pay for the 10k gold ring.
“I graduated on a Thursday, got married on a Friday and left home on a Monday,” she said.
Leaving home was hard on her younger sister who Clem helped raise.
“I let her borrow that ring to make her feel better,” she said.
A few days later, while playing in a creek, her sister lost the ring. But on April 2, while visiting relatives, an old neighbor shared what she’d recently found.
“She showed me a ring, and I said, 'Where did you find it?' She said, 'On the creek bed where it had washed up.'”
Five decades later and about a mile from where it was originally lost, Clem’s class ring was found.
“I just turned it over and saw my name right there,” said Clem, who can’t wait, after some needed repairs, to put it back on her finger. “I can’t wait, I want to put it on my finger so bad.”