MIT has many unique traditions: pianos are dropped from buildings, hacks randomly appear atop the Great Dome, and students always go for a swim in their first weeks at the Institute. While many traditions occur on campus, one tradition leaves with graduates—the brass rat. Just as alumni leave MIT, sometimes their class ring leaves them.
While many brass rats have been lost, sunk, or destroyed over the years, some of those brass rats do come back. We recently shared the story of Stephen Meyer ’64 who lost his brass rat 50 years ago while washing a car. With the help of an Alabama woman, a local news station, and the Alumni Association, Meyer was reunited with his ring in August. After we shared that story, you chimed in with miraculous stories of your own. Here are just a few:
Glenn Nelson ’74 In 1974 a week before I graduated I lost my ring (class of 73, though). I thought I had lost it while on the trail around Lake Waban. Ten years later I’m feeling rich enough to buy a replacement and six months after getting my replacement, my old ring is sent back to me! Evidently I lost it while passing thru a backyard in Newton on my way to visit a friend. The owner’s dog dug it up 10 years later!
Ernie Anschutz ’50 I too lost my ring while washing my car, finding it a day later after sifting through leaves all over my driveway. Having graduated many years ago (Class of 1950) some of my ring’s features are no longer discernable, but the beaver still attracts notice–and comment!
Peter Dinhofer ’75 I lost my ring just after graduation. I called the past president of the ring committee and ordered a replacement. I got the replacement and wore it for many years. About 10 years ago, my ring was stolen from my house in a robbery. About two months later I got a call from a fellow alum in Massachusetts who said he had found my ring. I was ecstatic. I assumed that the thief sold it and it somehow ended up in Massachusetts. However, when I got the ring back, it was my original ring, not the replacement. I called him back and asked where he found it. He said that he found at in a box of junk that he got at a yard sale.
Ted Kraver ’60, SM ’61 About 55 years ago while I was diving off the end of a boat dock into a shallow mud lake, I discovered my class ring was gone. So I said to myself, “Self, give it one try.” I dove off the dock with my eyes closed, stretched my arm to the bottom and grabbed a handful of mud. Back to the pier, picking through the mud, and there was my class ring.
Unfortunately, not all lost brass rats return home. A few alumni chimed in with their stories of still missing rings. Keep a lookout for the following brass rats.
Claudia Winters Viehland ’69 Larry Viehland and I were newly engaged in 1968 (both of us in course V, 1969). We had traded brass rats as juniors, but he lost mine somewhere in Missouri during the summer of 1968. He offered me the choice of a replacement rat or a diamond engagement ring – couldn’t afford both. Of course I chose the diamond, figuring that I still had custody of his rat. Mine has never been found – it has the initials CKW inside.
Robert Wang ’69 Lost my brass rat while camping in Yosemite above the valley floor soon after graduation. Have never located it yet.
Cheryl Dawson ’67 Mine was stolen from my swim bag in the locker room at the YMCA and I called all the pawn shops and jewelry shops in town, but never found it. I replaced it with an insurance payment but since our year had a different jeweler, the ring on my finger still doesn’t look like my brass rat even after twenty years.
Alfred Morgan ’72 From time to time I thought about ordering a replacement ring but never did. Lost mine sometime in the mid-70’s when I wasn’t wearing it – had a wedding ring on my left hand at the time and a busted ring finger on my right hand prevented me from putting it there. It was a great memento that I figure will never return, but based on some of these stories, who knows? Might get lucky.
Do you have a story of brass rats lost or found? Share in the comments.