Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fish tales

The legends, fairy tales, and romantic accounts of rings being found inside fish are sometimes true! “This was the craziest story we’d ever heard but 100% true," says British jeweler Steve Gallagher, whose boss (2nd image), holds up a gold ring discovered in 2009 inside the belly of a fish caught off Fort Victoria, near Yarmouth. "The ring holds very little monetary value but it is gold. The stones are not diamonds but are very sparkly, which obviously attracted the fish. Goodness knows how long it had been in its belly.” In 2008, a man fishing on Sam Rayburn Lake in Texas found a tarnished blue-stoned class ring from Houston's Universal Technical Institute inside his catch - an 8lb bass. It was engraved with the student's name, so an Internet search helped him track down 41-year-old mechanic Joe Richardson of Buna. "My first reaction was — you gotta be kidding," said Joe, whose mother was irate in 1987 when he lost the $200 ring just 2 weeks after she had given it to him as a graduation gift.

Other "returned ring" stories do not involve fish, but do involve the water. A man using a metal-detector at Lake Michigan found the 1955 Ludington High School class ring that Jan Pedersen had lost in a park some 12 miles away, and returned it to her in 2008. A family in Bend, Oregon, recently found a wedding band in the Metolius River near the fish hatchery, but despite the inscription - "Rolf and Birgit Eternal Love" - have been unable to trace the owner. More exotically, a German man diving off the coast of Africa in 2007 found a 1976 Notre Dame College class ring in an underwater cave and tracked down its owner, a former undercover officer for the CIA who was stationed in Mauritius 20 years ago, and mailed it to her in Ohio. A Massachusetts man was more local when he lost his wedding ring on a dive in 2008: it was found several months later in the giant fish tank at the New England Aquarium on a piece of finger coral. As you can imagine, some of the tales are a bit more prosaic. Just this month, one of the workers who had helped search unsuccessfully through 12,000 gallons of sewage 2 years ago for the antique diamond ring that British widow Joan Spiers had accidentally flushed down a hotel toilet saw it sparkling up at him at the sewage works and returned it to her. The Paso Robles High School class ring lost 15 years ago turned up under similar circumstances, and the California sewer worker returned it to Cindy Koontz Woodhead in time for her to wear it to her 25th reunion.

The French inscription on the vintage April Fool's Day postcard I've cropped above (1st image) was kindly translated by my friend Kristina:
"Sweet fish, faithful host
Of the water that gave you life,
Will you know to tell the unfaithful
That my heart will keep its love
The site uses the card to illustrate a narrative in which a man proposes to a woman with a netful of fish. She rejects the offer as a poor substite for an engagement ring, but another woman gladly accepts, since a fish can at least be eaten. Kristina notes that the holiday is translated as "poisson
d'avril" and that as children they used to stick paper fish on fellow classmates' backs.

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