LYNN — It took 49 years, but Paul Jodoin and his 1970 English High School class ring have been reunited.
Jodoin lost the ring while he and his friends were hanging around Kings Beach. Fortunately for him, in August, Lynn’s Jessica Neeley and her two daughters, Isabella, 12, and Adrianna, 11, were scouring the beach near Red Rock Park, searching for hermit crabs. When Neeley, 33, lifted up a rock in search of more crabs, she found a ring with a maroon stone. And it was in near-mint condition.
“Some people probably would have left it or kept it,” Neeley said. “If it were me, I would want it back. I saw it was from 1970 and figured someone would want all those memories back that come with it.”
During the process of trying to track down the ring’s owner, Neeley said it sat on her kitchen table for weeks. That was enough time for her and each of her daughters to try it on, she said with a laugh.
Her first move was to call English, where representatives immediately got in contact with the alumni association, Neeley said. The association found Jodoin’s cousin, who called his sister, who called him up near the end of September.
“When my sister first called me, I didn’t even remember I had a ring,” Jodoin, 67, said. “It was very nice of Jessica to go out of her way to return this to me.”
Jodoin can’t remember when exactly he lost the high school ring, but he knows where he lost it. The second staircase, close to Red Rock Park, was the hangout spot in high school. The former football and basketball player said that area of Kings Beach was swarmed with teenagers all the time.
“In the olden days, that was the meeting place for us,” he said. “We’d play cards, and games and go into the water. There were always kids everywhere. There are a lot of memories in this area. I haven’t stood here in about 40 years.”
Jodoin grew up on Goldthwait Street, right around the corner from Lynn English, until his mid-20s. He traveled the world before he landed a job working transportation for the federal government. He later got married and moved to Lynnfield, where he currently resides.
Neeley grew up in Clinton, graduating from Clinton High School in 2004. Before she moved to Lynn a few years ago, she too lost her class ring. She said she didn’t realize it was gone until her mother asked her about it.
“Now you know how it feels,” Jodoin said to her with a laugh.
After weeks of speaking on the phone, Neeley was finally able to return the ring to Jodoin. She works early intervention for kids at a daycare center in Lynn and, two weeks ago, she invited Jodoin to swing by and pick up his memorabilia.
Jodoin said he walked in and asked for “Jessica, the woman who found his ring.” Seconds later, all of her coworkers and students ran up to him in excitement because they already knew the story.
“I was having the worst week and he came in and it just made my day,” said Neeley. “Then later that night, he took me and my girls out to Prince Pizzeria in Saugus for dinner.
Isabella and Adrianna Neeley were ecstatic over the gesture. They said they thought returning the ring was cool, but the free pizza was even cooler. Neeley said she expects to text Jodoin once in a while and check up on him and the ring.
And hopefully, she said, the cycle of kindness will continue and her ring will be returned to her one day.
“It wasn’t about the ring as much as it was about the stories and the memories that are in something I lost when I was young.” said Jodoin. “Forty-nine years is a really long time.”