Jesse Taylor Mattos, 90, has been reunited with his class ring, after 72 years.
Growing up in Dunsmuir, Calif., he had lost the ring in a butcher shop almost immediately after graduating from high school in 1938.
"I knew I had lost it, but I had never really thought about it," Mattos said.
He never thought about it, that is, until Dunsmuir city worker Tony Congi noticed the ring while doing routine maintenance on the city's sewer lines.
Congi, 52, noticed the thin part of the gold ring in the top of a bucket of debris, cleaned it up, and started his detective work.
The ring had all the clues he needed. Written on the inside of the ring were "Class of 1938" and the initials "J.T.M."
"If it had been anything else, we wouldn't have been able to trace it back," Congi said. "Had it been a diamond ring, we wouldn't have been able to return it."
Congi paid a visit to Dunsmuir High School and immediately knew from the yearbook that the ring belonged to Mattos.
"It was a small class, Jesse was pretty much the first one in there," Congi explained. "He was the only one with the initials J.T.M.
"It was so simple to get it to him," he said. "There could've been others in the class with the same initials."
With the new information, Congi contacted a local member of the Class of 1938, a neighbor who lived only two blocks away.
The classmate happened to be a friend of Mattos' who had his number from past class reunions.
Congi contacted Mattos, who has lived in Vallejo, Calif., since 1940.