Mary Lou Fioramonti had owned her class ring from Liverpool High School for three months when she lost it in the Jamesville Reservoir in 1963.
“I cried,” she said. “It took six months of babysitting to pay for that ring.”
Fioramonti (now Mailhot) said she and a group of friends had gone swimming in the reservoir one hot afternoon that summer. When she got out of the water, she discovered the ring was gone.
“I looked around on the ground, but I didn’t find it,” Mailhot said. “I thought it was at the bottom of the reservoir and I’d never see it again.”
So imagine her surprise when her daughter called her last month and told her it had been found.
“I was amazed,” Mailhot said. “I said, ‘What do you mean, you found it?’ I couldn’t believe it.”
The ring was found on the island in the reservoir by Irene Steigerwald, who owned the island. Steigerwald was clearing seaweed around the dock later that same summer when she found it. She brought it home and kept it in a drawer in her home, all the while keeping an eye out for a lost-and-found ad in the newspaper. When no ad appeared, she forgot about it until she was cleaning out the drawer last year. She gave it to Mike Moriarty of Camillus, a friend of her son’s, and told him he could sell it if he wanted.
“I thought it was more important to try to track down the owner,” Moriarty said.
That was no easy feat. The ring had initials inside — MLF — but no other identifying marks. So Moriarty did a little detective work.
“I went to the library at Liverpool High School and asked for help,” he said. “The librarian there was very helpful. I looked in a yearbook from 1963, and there was only one person with those initials — Mary Lou Fioramonti.”
But the search didn’t end there. Moriarty didn’t know if the ring’s owner was still alive, much less living in the area under the same name. He searched the phone book and, after cold-calling a few Fioramontis, found an aunt of Mailhot’s still living in Central New York. The aunt said Mailhot’s daughter, Barbara, still lived in Jordan and gave him her number.
“She thought it was a prank call,” Moriarty said. “She didn’t believe it.”
Barbara relayed the information to her mother, who called Moriarty a short time later, ecstatic.
“I just can’t believe all of the work he put into finding me,” Mailhot said. “I’m so grateful.”
In July, Mailhot, who has since moved out of state, got her ring back. She came to town for her grandson’s graduation and, while here, met with Moriarty and Steigerwald.
“We all had a very nice time,” Moriarty said. “It was a trip Mary Lou will remember for the rest of her life, and Irene found closure and realized that the ring had finally come home to its original owner 46 years later.”
And the best part?
“It still fits,” Mailhot said.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.