Ringing in 50 golden years

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This past Christmas Eve, Judith Miodownik of Stratton received a call she never could have anticipated. After more than a year, and only days before her 50th anniversary with her husband, John Miodownik, her lost wedding ring had been found.

Just hours earlier, Guy Thomas, the owner of Zoey's Double Hex and Zoey's Deli, had gathered his grandchildren to assign them a task.

"At our Christmas Eve dinner he brought out the ring and said 'Here's a mystery!'" explained Thomas' granddaughter, Ella Papanek.

He explained that a gold wedding band adorned with a single diamond, and engraved "JHM and JWW, 12/29/66, Happiness," had been found on the floor of Double Hex on Sept. 30, 2015. The ring was initially found with a signed receipt and the last four digits of a credit card number, but the staff at Double Hex were unable to track down the owners of the ring even with the help of the Manchester Police Department.

The staff posted the lost ring on Facebook in an attempt to locate its owners and even contacted the credit card company, which was unable to provide the couple's names due to privacy policies.

While all avenues seemed to be exhausted, the group set out to solve the mystery under the leadership of Papanek, a 17-year-old high school senior from New York. Beginning with only a fairly illegible signature, the initials of the owners, and a wedding date, it became clear that they needed to work quickly as the couple's 50th anniversary was fast approaching.

Realizing that the ring was lost on a Wednesday, Papanek knew there was a good chance that the owners of the rings were locals. Eventually she tracked down a John H. Miodownik, matching the initials engraved on the ring, along with a Long Island phone number.

Though Thomas left a phone message for Miodownik, the group was not satisfied. They continued to hunt, and this time uncovered a local phone number with the initials "JWM." Thinking that "JWW" may have changed her last name after she married, Guy and his family called the local number and received an answer.

When her phone rang on Christmas Eve, Judith almost didn't take the call, presuming it to be from a telemarketer of some sort. Once Guy identified himself as the owner of Double Hex and explained the ring had been found, she was rendered speechless.

"When he described it I thought 'Oh my God, he's describing my wedding ring." said Judith, overcome with joy.

The Miodowniks have been living between Vermont and Long Island for over 32 years, and have frequently dined at Double Hex since it opened 17 years ago. Little did they realize that Thomas shared their wedding anniversary, and would be celebrating 54 years of marriage on the same night.

Cancelling their original anniversary celebration due to a snowstorm the night before, the Miodowniks were treated to dinner at Double Hex on Friday, Dec. 30, a day after their 50th anniversary. When they arrived, their table was set with flowers, a card from Thomas and his family, and the wedding ring wrapped in a new box.

Upon sitting down John noticed the ring box placed on the table, and presented it to Judith once again - placing it on her finger with a look of camaraderie and affection that can only develop after decades of partnership.

With both John and Judith beaming, the entire restaurant looked on with excitement. For Guy, his family, and his staff the moment represented the culmination of an exhaustive effort to return a ring that had been feared lost forever.

For John and Judith it seemed to be a serendipitous symbol of enduring love — though it was not the first. This was the second ring that Judith had received from John this year, as he resolved to give her the engagement ring she never had once he realized that her wedding band had been lost.

Judith, rendered speechless once again, admitted "I was lucky 50 years ago. I really got the right one."

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