When preparing his childhood home to be sold in 2011 after his 83-year-old mom fell ill, Gary Guadagno was careful to check every nook and cranny. You see, Guadagno remembered that his parents had a penchant for squirreling away valuable items in the modest two-bedroom home they purchased in the early 1950s in Reading, PA. He did end up finding the cash his parents stashed behind cinder blocks in the basement, but he couldn't find their wedding rings.
Guadagno was certain he would never see the precious family heirlooms again.
Fast-forward to September of this year, and the new Reading homeowner, Josh Martin, 36, is gently sliding the panel below the soffit of his kitchen cabinets. Armed with a flashlight, he's peeking into the void, trying to spot a gift that he hid away from his wife, Hannah Keuscher. But instead of finding the gift, he sees an old jewelry box.
Inside the box were the Guadagno wedding rings — a diamond engagement ring and a gold wedding band.
Knowing that the rings likely meant a lot to the previous owners or their family, Keuscher and Martin set out to find them.
Keuscher, 33, remembered the previous owners' last name and did some Internet sleuthing. She located Gary on Facebook and sent him a direct message about the jewelry discovery.
"I read it," the 60-year-old Guadagno told NBC10. "I swear I sat there in shock and disbelief for a few minutes with my mouth open."
His parents, Anthony and Rosemarie, had exchanged those rings in 1947. Anthony, a maintenance mechanic, passed away in 1978 when Gary was only 15 years old. Rosemarie became the breadwinner of the family after his death, but had to retire in 1998 as her Alzheimer’s progressed. She died in 2012.
Guadagno told the couple that he was happy to drive the 40 miles from his home in Phoenixville, PA, to retrieve the rings, but Keuscher and Martin insisted on making the trip to see him, instead.
As the homeowners were preparing a video for Guadagno to show him exactly how and where the rings were found, another surprise emerged. Previously unseen in the void below the soffit was a bicentennial 1776-1976 coin set. To Gary, it all made sense, because his dad was an avid coin collector.
"It's a legacy really," Guadagno told NBC10. "And to have [the items] returned to me from the kindness of two people I never met, it just was everything."
Credits: Screen captures via NBC10, nbcphiladelphia.com.