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Lost ring resurfaces after four decades in Little Star Lake
By: Laurel Carlson
After spending nearly 40 years embedded in the sands of the Manitowish Chain of Lakes, a gold wedding band was reunited with its owner last month. "I was probably only married about four or five years when it happened," recalls Schroeder, a Cedarburg resident who calls the Rainbo Lodge in Land O' Lakes her summer home.
It was in the mid-seventies, during a game of water volleyball that Schroeder's wedding band departed from her finger and flew into the shallows of Little Star Lake in Manitowish Waters. Schroeder, who was visiting her father-in-law at his lakefront cottage at the time, said she was cognizant of the moment the gold band with black detailing left her hand.
Though a search ensued almost immediately, Schroeder and her fellow volleyball players were unable to locate the wedding band that day. And Marcia continued to search for her ring during return visits to the cottage, when clear, calm waters offered the best chances of a reunion. However, time passed, Schroeder eventually bought a new ring, and the happenings of that day became a family anecdote.
"It was sort of a family joke," she said. It was several decades later that the story would fall on the ears of the person who would later find the ring. "I heard about it about two years ago," Wasmer, husband to Meta, a relative of Schroeder's by marriage, said.
Intrigued by the story told by his wife's family and the larger historical context of Manitowish Waters that has been colored by the likes of the notorious John, Wasmer, a detector by hobby, decided to give it a go. "I wanted to help the Schroeders out," he said. "I was [also] curious to see what kind of other stuff I would find."
Wasmer, who owns several metal detectors and got into detecting in 2003, felt confident from the get-go that he could find Schroeder's lost treasure. "I started doing it on Civil War battlefields when I was in the Marines," Wasmer said. "I own a few of them - it's a hobby of mine."
After Wasmer resolved to begin combing the shallows of the Little Star Lake, it took him several attempts to locate the ring. "I would say I probably put in, at the least, a good 16-20 hours of hunting," he said. But one day in June while staying at the family cottage and after about one or two hours of searching, Wasmer's detector signaled what he had been looking for. "I found it about a foot down," he said. "One of the reason why I couldn't find it before is I had to turn the detector sensitivity up." Schroeder's gold band lay preserved under one foot of sand about 10 feet off of the shoreline in line with the cottage's fire pit, recalls Wasmer.
Once unearthed, the engraving inside the flaxen hoop, "R.S. to M.H. 11-14-1970," assured him he had found Marcia's ring. He left the ring at the family cottage and Meta made arrangements to return it to her family member. Shortly afterward, Marcia was reunited with her ring at a family cabin on Cochran Lake at Rainbo Lodge. Her formerly displaced ring had aged even better than her husband, Bob's, identical band.
"It looked like brand new," she said."I think just being in the sand it just stayed really well preserved." Wasmer, too, said the ring was in good condition when he plucked it from the lake bed. Though nearly 40 years passed by, Schroeder said she had always hung on to hope that she would see her wedding band again. "But I was still very shocked."