John Kelly: These diamonds escaped their owners, only to be brought back

Columnist February 17, 2014

Because I’ve never bought My Lovely Wife a diamond ring, she’s never had to worry about losing one.

Other husbands have not been so considerate. And so, continuing in my series about lost and found items, we will start today with gaudy, sparkly compressed carbon.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

Many years ago, Springfield’s Judi Raaum lost the diamond out of her engagement ring. She searched high and low, to no avail. “Have you ever noticed how many little clear stones there are in driveways, service stations or streets?” Judi wrote. False alarms, all of them.

But several months later, Judi noticed a small, sparkling stone on her kitchen floor. “I picked it up and lo and behold my diamond,” she wrote.

She thinks it must have fallen into a kitchen drawer, only to be liberated when she pulled out a towel.

“I am a much better house keeper than to have not swept or mopped my floor for months,” Judi wrote.

Housekeeping — well, carkeeping — is part of Eileen Doughty’s story, too. Back when the Vienna mom had toddlers in car seats, one of them (“identity protected to save embarrassment,” Eileen wrote) got motion sickness so badly that a thorough scrubbing of the car was necessary.

“I had to thoroughly clean the seat, even lift up the cushion,” she wrote. “That uncovered all the cookie crumbs, gravel, and random bits that had collected underneath. Just as I was poised to vacuum out the detritus, one of the little bits caught my eye and I picked it up.”

It was the diamond that weeks before had disappeared from Eileen’s engagement ring. She figures she had snagged a prong on the upholstery while muscling a child in or out of the car seat.

“I had searched for it everywhere,” Eileen wrote. “Well, apparently not everywhere, till that moment. That was the one time I was grateful having a child prone to motion-sickness.”

Arlington’s Lisa Martin managed to lose her entire diamond wedding ring. It was a typical busy Saturday, with her three young sons involved in various activities and Lisa rushing around. The plumber was at the house, too, which was fortuitous, given that Lisa managed to drop her diamond wedding ring into the toilet just as she was flushing it.

“The ring was gone,” Lisa wrote.

The plumber snaked a camera through the pipes but failed to detect the ring. He had an idea, though: to drop a fishing net down into the manhole in the middle of the street.

Lisa wrote: “At the plumber’s direction, we turned off all the water at one side of the house and turned on all the faucets and flushed every toilet like crazy people, hoping to push the ring — and whatever else was there — through the sewer to the collection point in the manhole.”

Miraculously, it worked. The plumber snagged the ring in the net. “He got a generous tip — but it couldn’t have been enough,” Lisa wrote. “And the image of what you may go through in a marriage but what treasure is still there has stuck with me.”

Of course, less valuable things go missing, too. William E. Hopkins still remembers a remarkable reunion in 1986. Back then, he was the captain of Engine Company 18 at Eighth and D streets SE in the District. The firefighters were just sitting down to dinner when they were called out. “Back then it was customary for crews to kick off their shoes on the floor and jump into fire boots,” wrote William, of Silver Spring.

When the crew returned around midnight, William’s left shoe — size 101 / 2 — was missing. So was the size 14 left shoe of his sergeant. Some of the dinner that had been laid out was gone, too.

A week later, the crew was out on a call near the Marine Barracks. William wrote: “I got off the apparatus and tripped on something in the darkness: a size 101 / 2 and size 14 shoe — both left!”

Every summer when he was a boy, Roland Steiner’s family drove to Upstate New York to spend two weeks at his grandmother’s. “My parents would load the four kids, our clothes and toys, pets, etc., into the station wagon and make the day-long trip from Baltimore on roads as they were in the early to mid-1950s,” wrote Roland, of Ellicott City, Md.

“On the way home one year, my father forgot his hat in the restaurant where we stopped for lunch,” he wrote. “The next summer on the way to Grandma’s, we stopped at the same restaurant. Upon leaving, my father looked on the hat shelf — and there it was. He dusted it off and wore it back to the car.”

A lesson for us all: Lost something? Since matter cannot be created or destroyed, it’s still out there somewhere.

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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