Forty-one years ago, Margie Snow was wading around in the lake at Cardinal Park when her class ring from Magnolia High School in Lumberton went MIA. Fearful of what her grandmother, who was still making payments on the ring would say, Margie kept the loss a secret — for four whole decades.
Recently, Chester Rodriguez and Leilani Jones were running their metal detector over the sand near Cardinal Park’s lake when Leilani saw a glimmer and discovered Margie’s ring, right where she lost it 41 years ago.
Chester immediately kicked into detective mode. He searched a Magnolia High School Alumni Facebook group for anyone with the “MS” initials carved inside the ring.
Chester’s search narrowed down to Margie Snow.
“I sent her a friend request on Facebook, but she never accepted. I don’t blame her because I’m obviously a stranger to her,” Chester laughs.
Margie’s profile indicated that she worked at Stedman-Wade Health Services in Fayetteville, and Chester began leaving messages for her at work.
“I got the messages and I thought ‘there’s no way. This is just a scam,'” Margie says.
Margie finally decided to call Chester back. As soon as she looked up Cardinal Park on Facebook and saw photos of kids swimming in the lake, Margie says it “all started coming back to her.”
Margie graduated from Magnolia High School, which is now closed, in 1980. She was a part of a program that allowed her to attend what’s now UNC Pembroke (previously Pembroke State) early while she continued her education at Magnolia, and when summer rolled around, she lived on campus. During that summer, Margie recalls meeting up with some friends at Cardinal Park and swimming in the lake.
“I remember I wasn’t too far out and combing my fingers through the water. When I looked down, I realized the ring slipped off,” Margie says. “I searched and searched, dug through the sand and it was gone. I couldn’t tell anyone because my grandma was still paying the ring off, so I just kept it to myself.”
Margie moved away, joined the military and moved to Fayetteville in 2007, where she still resides.
Margie returned Chester’s call and after confirming the ring was hers from the little engraved basketball player on the side.
This past Saturday, she made her way to Cardinal Park to see for herself and was reunited with her long-lost piece of jewelry.
“I’m not going to lie — I was skeptical all the way to Pinebluff. When they gave it to me, I just couldn’t believe it,” Margie says.
One Woman’s Treasure
Chester and his partner, Leilani, live in Hawaii, but are in the area visiting while Leilani works on an engineering project in Lumberton. When approached by the couple for permission to search for hidden treasure, owner Mitch Capel told them that no one had ever run a metal detector over the park since its founding in the 1960s.
In the three months since, Chester says they’ve found close to 100 rings, 10 to 12 gold chains, $65 in quarters alone and a mercury dime from the 1940s.
“One thing about metal detecting is you’re rarely able to return lost items,” Chester says. “It’s considered a metal detector’s holy grail when you’re actually able to return something to someone that they lost.”
By looking at the ring, you’d never be able to tell that it was underwater for 41 years.
“It looks brand new. I wore it to work and showed everyone and they just keep asking ‘are you for real?'” Margie says. “I told them I’ll never lose this thing again.”