About a year before his death in December 1998, I spent some time with Herb at his home in Fallon, Nevada. He lived in a 42 foot “Smoker” house trailer that he purchased in the early 50s. One night as he regaled me with stories of the Old West, I noticed a small plastic cylinder on his kitchen table. It appeared to be stuffed with tissue, but knowing Herb, I reckoned there must be more to its contents than toilet paper.
Herb’s deteriorating eyesight made it difficult for him to see any small object so I described the small plastic container.
“Well what is it?” I asked.
“It’s priceless,” Herb replied.
“Okay, Herb,” I said, “but what is it?
“Oh…It’s from King Tut’s tomb.”
This is the story Herb told me.
In the 1920s, Herb’s father Joseph Ringer played the french horn for some of the most celebrated orchestras in the country. One of Joseph’s fellow musicians traveled to Europe in the summer of 1925 to play with an orchestra in Vienna.
But during a break, he took a side trip to Cairo. Tutankhamen’s tomb had been discovered the year before and locals had been hired, at pauper wages, to do most of the heavy digging. Subsequently many of the diggers concealed small artifacts in their clothing and sold them on the streets of the city. Herb’s friend purchased the small vessel and returned to the United States at the end of the summer, he gave the artifact to Herb for his 10th birthday.