By thegoldenolde RIP
It was a strange combination of weather effects that started this adventure. First a low pressure moved just east of Houston and stalled. They announced on TV a ozone warning(smog) and the normal strong onshore winds that we usually get here just faded away leaving the bouy readings from the Gulf of Mexico to say that there was NO swells and .3 foot of significant waves. In other words the weather we usually get just took a timeout. This also happened quite by coincidence on on of the very rare MINUS tides of summer. The low tide was after sunset so we packed the mule and headed out for adventure. The “we” being my wife the “natural” at treasure hunting and myself the guy with the logical approach.
Let me state now that this is a TRUE story and not just a story you might read in a fanciful paper bound book and as I am writing this all of it happened just last night.
As we drove up to the sea wall road we saw something that got me so excited I could hardly hold my water. The low tide was hours away and already the tide was far out much farther than I have ever seen it even in winter with minus tides and strong offshore winds. All of the treasure was just laying there just under the sand and all we had to do was walk out where six foot seas had been before and just pick it up!
However the problem was obvious….. There is soooooooooo much beach and only a little time to hunt it. Where to hunt…. Where to hunt…. how to hunt…. All of these things ran over and over in my head and so I decided to try a place where I had found rings before and water hunt(a bad idea). I was able to walk way out on sand and then into the water where I waded out chest high(too far!). I hunted water that was probably 10 foot deep normally(stupid!), but I always wanted to try far out and never got a chance to (short guy). Around and around like a confused mullet I went just trolling for treasures and NO SIGNALS!!!
Finally I looked up and the sun was going down and I was mentally kicking myself over and over for wasting all of this precious time. Meanwhile my dear wife had found a gold ring and half dollar plus other odd goodies on the beach(kick me again). Ok, start over and go to a popular beach and just walk and swing as hard as my arm could swing the 5 pound Fisher CZ7 and march back and forth and the treasure would just pop right into my pocket(wrong again). Well it was dark now and the street lights were on but it was very black out at the waters edge and you could hardly see your hand in front of your face. Ok, start over and try another beach!! You gotta give me a A+ for determination anyway if I failed everything else.
Hours of swinging the very heavy coil in the water(my usual 8 foot swing) and then marching and swinging hard as I could (more hours) my arm was ready to just fall off, but the lure of adventure let us onward. It was pitch black with no moon as we approached the next beach and all we had was a tiny flashlight with a weak battery and it would only provide a weak yellowish beam for a few feet. The light on the CZ7 was a lifesaver to be able to look at the readings was a great help. I started out farther where the best swimming area was and it was only a short time and the deepest low tide occurred that I received a strong broad signal near the water and I generally just don’t dig them because the fishermen throw cans and junk into the water and it always turns out to be trash, but something in me said you want to dig this one
I had just broke off the long handled shovel an hour before and so all we had was a 15 inch digging trowel. I dug a large hole and still it was not there so I took the long digger and pushed it way down into the bottom of the hole very likely over a foot and a half. I applied some pressure and felt contact with an object. Knowing how these often turn out to be cans I slipped the digger up along the side of the object to judge the size of it and much to my surprise it seemed to have a smooth curved side(strange) I reached my hand down into the bottom of the excavation and through the wet sand and touched the object. Sure enough this thing felt smooth and rounded and whatever it could be I had no idea but my heart was pounding now and I knew that this was not the standard kind of thing that I dig. I used the digger to slightly apply pressure to lift it some while my hand tried to pull it out. Finally the long hold of the sea gave way and it slowly emerged from the deep sand. My pounding heart just jumped up to hyper speed as my hands felt an object that felt like the Genie’s lamp but this lamp was HEAVY!!! That ol’ flashlight was fading to black about this time and anyway we didn’t want to draw a crowd if you know what I mean. There was this guy watching us all the time and hearing our excited voices must have aroused his curiosity. I took him to be one of the bums who live on the beach and panhandle from the tourists.
I showed my wife the object and she was getting as excited as me but to put it into context for you I guess this was the most excited I have ever been in my whole life! We could feel it and all that we knew was that it sure felt like the old Genie’s lamp except the spout was strait out and I guessed it must be very thick silver to weigh this much. About that time I realized that we were only about a couple of miles from the pirate’s hangout and I knew the stories about the Spanish treasure ships that had been driven into the island in the hurricanes. I could see in my minds eye that the Pirate ship was anchored just offshore and a longboat was rowing ashore with the treasures of the Spanish ships that had been raided and it didn’t make it through the surf and out dumped the treasures centuries ago just waiting for the hunter to ply his or her skill and find it again. I imagined that this belonged to someone very important like a Spanish governor that was confiscated by Pirate Jean Lafitte and his crew. They had a thousand men and fifty or so ships to raid the Spanish treasures which they did very successfully. One man had come to the island around 1820 and said that the gold doubloons were as common as biscuits!
Now my mind considered that the object might have something inside of it and if it had been in a chest of treasure it might have gold coins or jewels inside. I was careful not to empty the contents and to hide it from the watcher while I looked around for more. My wife always has me look around for more! Sure enough about 5 feet away I got another strong signal and the excavation was begun again. This time it was deeper and larger and I had to dig and work around until I could feel it. It was smooth but rounded?? Now what could this be? More digging(tired!) out it finally came but what treasure…. It was the large size police special Maglight(waterproof) and it had been there for long years because there were barnacles on it.
Someone once said to me “what do you do with that thing? Find bits of metal?”. Of course the answer was yes but something more also. The detector was my ticket to adventure. For long years I had worked at NASA and I had repressed the small boy in me almost to the point of extinction so when I retired the one thing that I owed to him was to let him have his way and breath again the adventures of youth. This night he was as alive as he could possibly be and I had to agree he surely knew how to have a good time.
We put the object in the car with the maglight and returned to the adventure. A ways down the beach at the waters edge I got a pull-tab signal and dug out a pile of sand and moved it around to see that satisfying flash of GOLD. At first I thought it was a large mans ring but it turned out to be a large earring with engraved pictures around it. My wife always tells me to look around for the other one while I grimace and do it anyway even though I know that there is just “no chance” that you can ever find the other one. Sure enough in the water I received a pull-tab signal and dug out the match to the other earring.
We looked in the dark and there appeared two guys walking the sand and metal detecting so we walked over and spoke to them. It turned out that they were from Tulsa and just walking the beach like us tonight. We moved on and noted the watcher was still on post observing us so we decided to exit the far end of the beach and walk back to our car on the road in the lights. I wanted badly to see the object in the light but as it turned out the ceiling lamp was burned out and so we still had not seen our treasure.
We headed back to our town driving down the dark highway talking about finding someone at Southerby’s to sell our prize and guessing how much it might be worth(estimates from a few paltry thousand to 50 thousand) We had glimpsed a etched marking in the object that obviously was the trade mark of the artist who had made it. We assumed that it was Spanish most likely.
We finally arrived back home and put the mule to bed and walked around in the dark still to the front door. We entered and I walked to the row of switches of ceiling lights to flip them on all at one time so we could finally see what we had found. (FLIP!) On went the lights (blinding me) but as my eyes adjusted I saw that our treasure was not silver colored but goollldddeenn! Wow! Golly gee whiz!! No wonder it was soooo heavy.
I sat it down on the counter and requested my wife to bring me a plastic tub to empty the contents into(I still looked for jewels and gold coins) She filled the tub with water and brought it to me and I slowly moved my fingers around the compacted sand inside. I had noticed although the object may have been there for centuries it had a rather level area at the top and not just full of loose sand. It gradually gave way and melted down into the tub. My fingers probing gently for something… anything inside the object and sure enough I felt something soft. Soft like silk. And so I gently tugged at it and it seemed to me that it was knotted or something(to hold the jewels in) out it finally came and I laid it down and continued to probe the object for its contents. You know my fingers was hoping against hope that I would feel a coin and sure enough I DID!! I really did feel it and it was not my imagination…. This just keeps on getting better and better all the time….. Out came a strange coin with strange leaves and impossible marking on it so I grabbed the magnifying glass to look it over. My expectation was that it was Spanish but this looked ever stranger and just about that time I crashed in pieces to the ground….. A Rupee??????? Not Spanish but Indian!!! What ever can this thing be?
About this time I remembered the overpowering foul odor that came out of the object and OH NOOOOO! Not a burial urn!!! Maybe “Joe” we nicknamed him was put into the urn hot and that is how the inside top of the object came to be burned black along with the tip of the spout. I figured that Joe had the Rupee in his pocket when he was toasted and that is how it came to be there. We speculated on this for a minute and then I realized, this was no urn! There was the twisted silk cloth that had not burned…… But what then??
My analytical brain finally started to work the problem and I came up with the conclusion that this was used as a lamp and the knotted cloth was the wick and the lamp was probably filled with oil extracted from a tree or an animal and this was the answer. Oh… the golden color it looks like is brass or bronze because I turned it over and tried to scratch it on the bottom and realized that it was too hard for gold. But then how had this thing came to buried in the Gulf of Mexico under the sea along the Pirates stronghold?
About this time my wife who was trying to open the Maglight in the kitchen yelled and I walked around to see that she was unwrapping tape which had been applied to the bottom of the light. When she was unwrapping the tape what fell out but a Silver Chain! It read .925 and had MEX written on it. What would this night hold next I wondered.
The coin I studied had too late of a date for Pirates because it was of all things dated not 1585 but 1985! But that only deepened the puzzle. The lamp was well crafted and flawless with the designers insignia but why would an old lamp be lost under the sea floor with a new coin?? Perhaps someone’s heirloom from India was used by the young kid in the family to provide a heat source to cook his drugs and someone walked up to him and he decided to throw it into the sea. A strange ending to an interesting adventure but then I still have the insignia to look up and see if I can find out anything on it from the internet. Perhaps I will take it to an antiquities dealer and get his ideas. I still think it reminds me of Aladdens magic lamp. Maybe I can just make a wish(Jean Lafittes treasure vault) and rub it just so and…..