MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - When newlywed Ransom Jones lost his wedding ring nearly 55 years ago in his parents' backyard, he never dreamed he'd see that band of gold again.
Over five decades later, Murfreesboro homeowner Doug Cook was able to fulfill that dream.
"The possibility of bringing that back to somebody ... is overwhelming. And ultimately, the value is priceless," said Cook, who found the ring in late April.
'A REAL EMOTIONAL BLOW'
Jones lost his ring while cleaning up after woodworking at the Apollo Drive home of his parents, former Murfreesboro Mayor Jennings Jones and wife, Rebecca Jones.
"As I threw a bunch of shavings out the door into a little garden patch, the ring went with the shavings," Jones said.
The Jones family searched diligently for years to find the ring.
"When the kids came along, they grew up looking for my ring. My son, who is now 51, thought it was all a spoof to keep them busy," Jones joked.
Jones said he thought about the missing wedding ring at least once a week over those 54 years.
"I was always so disappointed I lost it. It was a real emotional blow (to lose it)," Jones recalled.
Eventually, Jones got a replacement wedding ring, but "it wasn't the same" and he didn't wear it much.
The ring remained on Jones' mind so much that he mentioned the story on a final walkthrough with Cook, who bought the Jennings Jones house with his wife, Samantha Cook, in 2006.
PANDEMIC LEADS TO NEW HOBBY - AND RING
Cook never forgot Jones' story and looked for the ring occasionally while gardening in the patch beside the woodworking shop.
"It's always been in the back of my mind," Cook said.
The homeowner even practiced tossing items from the side door of the shop to gauge where the ring could have landed. But it turns out, everyone was looking in the wrong place. Instead of going straight out the door, the ring flew sideways and ended up about 100 feet from where they suspected.
How it arrived at its final location is still a mystery. And there was no way it would have ever been uncovered if not for Cook's new metal-detecting hobby.
Cook, a director of production for TV, stage and events, had time on his hands last year because shows and festivals were canceled due to the pandemic.
To stay busy, he bought the "lowest-level" metal detector available at Murfreesboro Pawn and Gold and started looking for buried treasures.
One afternoon in late April, he got a "real faint" hit on his metal detector and dug down about 4 inches before he found the treasure - a gold ring with initials "W.R.J." and the date, Jan. 21, 1966.
"As soon as I realized it was a gold ring, I knew it (was Ransom's)," Cook said.
MORE TREASURES FOUND
But Cook wasn't sure where to find the ring's owner. So the homeowner called the attorney who handled the sale, who in turn, looked up who signed the deed.
"In less than 5 minutes, Ransom called me," Cook said.
By 4:30 p.m. that afternoon, Ransom and his beloved bride, Wren Jones, were over to retrieve his long-lost ring.
As Cook handed over the ring, Wren Jones placed it on her husband's finger and joked, "Do you still want to marry me?"
Ransom Jones shows off his wedding band that was missing for over 50 years, on Thursday, May 13, 2021.
"I would do it all over again," Ransom Jones said, smiling.
"It was quite an emotional event to recover this ring. After all these years the ring back on my finger as of right now," Jones said. "I'm not a weepy kind of guy but I did over that ... It's been one of the most joyful experiences I've ever had."
Since starting the hobby, Cook has unearthed numerous Civil War-era bullets, a pocketknife, vintage buttons, coins - including a rare 1941 sterling silver quarter.
"It's pretty addictive," Cook joked.
Not long before hitting gold in his backyard, Cook found a wedding ring on an April trip to Sanibel Island, Florida, with "14K T Kurk" engraved on the band. He's hoping to connect with the owner of that ring. Anyone with information can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cook also hopes to make metal detecting a family thing.
"Now I have an activity to send my kids out into the yard and get them off their electronics. I think I'm going to go bury stuff," Cook joked.