Over twelve years ago, I wrote a blog post about how important my high school class ring is to me. I still have the ring today, it’s kept with my 2019 Albany Patroons championship ring and my 2014 Windsor Express championship ring as a special triumverate.
Today’s blog post isn’t about any of those rings.
It’s about a special ring for my son Kris.
It’s 2005. I was on my second marriage, and Kris was living in Washington State with my first ex-wife. At the time, thanks to my involvement with the music collector’s magazine Goldmine and two record collector’s guides with that company, I owned a decent-sized record collection.
Kris had gone through so many things in his life, and was about to graduate high school. The plan was for everybody to fly to Seattle and attend the graduation ceremony.
And I wanted to give Kris something special for his graduation. Whatever the future held for him, the fact that he made it this far was an accomplishment in and of itself. Trust me on this.
Because of one circumstance or another, he never had the chance to order a high school graduation ring. And if you haven’t priced graduation rings … they’re expensive as hell. I’m talking the good ones, not the ones made of Arcturium or Siladium or Whatchamacallitium.
I contacted his high school and asked which company they contracted with for rings. Then I contacted the ring company. A price was quoted. Let me rephrase that. A price wa$$$$$ quoted.
To get the ring in time for Kris’ graduation, I needed to raise cash quickly. My finances were tight. Way too tight.
Then I looked at the record collection.
Or at least a subset of it.
See, when working on one of my record collecting guides, I had assembled a complete set of the Sub Pop Singles Club. The Sub Pop Singles Club was a monthly subscription service where subscribers received a new 45 RPM record from an up-and-coming artist or band. And we’re talking some serious heavy hitters in their earliest incarnations.
See, the first pressing in the Sub Pop Singles Club was a limited-run 1000 copies – hand-numbered on the cover – of these guys.
Yeah. This was Nirvana’s first pressed 45 ever. And I had one of the 1,000 limited-run copies.
You know who else was in the Sub Pop Singles Club? These guys.
And there was a limited run in the Sub Pop Singles Club of this little track.
Oh, and Urge Overkill.
And Rocket from the Crypt.
This was a complete run of the Sub Pop Singles Club. Acquired from eBay and from record shows and from other locales.
I estimated that if I cherry-picked some of the vinyl from this collection and sold it piecemeal, I might have enough for a down payment on the class ring.
And I thought. And I thought.
And in the end … I took both volumes of the Sub Pop Singles Club and put them all up – as one lot – on eBay. One completed auction and a quick payment later, I had just enough cash to get the ring AND have it shipped to me in time.
Well, let’s be judicious about that “in time” statement. Because class rings are custom-made. You can’t just walk into a Josten’s Factory Store and pick up a ring on Aisle 6.
Here’s what goes into producing and manufacturing a class ring.
Suffice it to say … we had our suitcases in the car and were just leaving for the airport when a FedEx package – with the ring – arrived at our house. Just in the nick of time.
Next stop – Seattle.
And I will say this. The graduation ceremony was nice. I watched as Kris walked across the stage and received his diploma. And later that night, along with Kris’ mother, his stepmother and his high school guidance counselor in the room, I provided Kris with his graduation ring. It fit his finger perfectly. As all rings should.
So what if it cost me a collectible record series?
Trust me, I’m glad I had the option to sell that collection and buy the ring for him.
Because I remember how important class rings are. They’re not just a tangible reminder of graduation. It’s a symbol of what it took to get there, what odds you overcame, what challenges you surmounted, what mountains you summited.
Nearly two decades after that graduation, Kris is a successful person.
And I can’t ask for any more than that.