It’s really amazing, the number of treasures being discovered from day to day by people who aren’t even hunting treasure. You can hardly pick up a newspaper without reading where some little school kid, a sewer worker, or a skid row bum has stumbled on to a pile of loot he hasn’t even looking for. How do they do it? Must be a lot of luck, maybe some E. S. P., or just livin’ right, I don’t know.
The thing that impresses me is this: If these people who wouldn’t even qualify as amateur treasure hunters are gathering up such fabulous goodies everywhere from Kalamazoo to Timbuctu, there must be literally millions of these glittering (Or folding!) bonanzas lying around waiting to be sacked up. And, in my estimation, a good metal detector in the hands of an enterprising individual can compensate for a good many rabbits’ feet when it comes to finding them!
Can’t you just imagine the expressions of sheer joy that would suddenly appear on the collective faces of your creditors if you found one of these treasures! You can, but first lay that detector down for just a moment while we take a look-see at who’s finding this loot, what they’re finding, and where they’re finding it.
One fellow who did right well was, until recently, an enlisted man in the U. S. Army in Vietnam. He, Donald W. Morrison, was checking out a cave over there when his flashlight glinted off a metal object several feet above the ground. Turned out it was a metal box, and inside was $150,000 in 50. bills in U.S. currency!
Morrison, like a good soldier, turned the dough over to his platoon leader after first asserting his right to it under the well known legal precept of “finders keepers.” Later, as you probably guessed, his commanding officer told him, Morrison, that he had no legal right to it, and that the Army would keep it. The Secretary of Defense told him the same thing. Morrison has now taken the matter before the Court of Claims claiming, rightly it would seem, that the Army’s action constituted “taking of private property for public use in violation of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution.”
That was a far off one, but here’s one closer to home. R. W. Kirkland, a construction worker, uncovered $47,400. worth of rare gold certificates while digging a storm sewer ditch in Dallas, Texas. The money was in an old fruit jar. I believe a jury in Judge Spencer Carver’s 91st District Court finally awarded the money to Kirkland, but it wasn’t easy. Others claiming ownership of the money were C. Stanchiel and C. D. Doolittle who were working with Kirkland when he found it. Then an A. R. Letot claimed it on behalf of the heirs of the estate of Miver Letot, Sr. The owners of the Walnut Stemmons Industrial Park claimed it too, contending it was intentionally and deliberately buried on their property. Mrs. M. M. Williams, a kind of a Johnny-come-lately in the procession of those seeking to help Mr. Kirkland with his money problem, claimed it rightfully belonged to her because more than 50 years ago “a fortune teller lady, or spiritualist” told her the money had been buried by an old man she visited as a child.
The moral to these two (above) stories is, of course, that if one is inclined to be a blabber-mouth, he might be better off leaving the treasure finding to others. (To close-mouthed, deserving individuals like me, for example!) Some kids up around St. Louis, Mo., didn’t fare quite as well as Mr. Kirkland. Jesse· Wiggins, Dale Johnson, and twins, Bruce and Brian Schwartz, were out hunting arrowheads, and not having much luck at it. They sat down on a small bridge to rest, and spotted, under the bridge, a bag containing coins, rifles, a pistol, three watches, and a portable radio to the tune of $2,000! The boys, being honest like most children, turned the loot over to the police. The police discovered that it was stolen property, and turned it over to the alleged owner, who in turn gave each boy a check for $25.00! Now, you can’t beat that for generosity, can you!
Evidently this fellow claiming, perhaps rightly, ownership of the loot found and returned by the kids was the last of the great philanthropists. MY only comment is that you’d think, in this day of galloping inflation, that honesty would pay a little better wages than that.
Annette Ronella, a 14-year-old of the Richmond Hill section of Queens, New York, may have fared better than the boys who found the $2,000. She was returning home from church one Sunday when she saw 2 boys in a super-market parking lot peeking into a bag. They warned her, “Don’t go there–that’s gangsters’ money.” But Annette looked anyway, and found 3 stacks of $20′s which she promptly reported to the police. When asked why she turned the money in, she said, “Well, I’m honest. That’s the way I was brought up at home and in church. On second thought, maybe we’d better not knock honesty after all. Perhaps what we need is more of it. Annette’s treasure came to $12,300!
And speaking of honesty, dig this. Mr. And Mrs. Floyd Sinlpson discovered $6,580. in 100, 20, l0,and 5 dollar bills in a secret compartment of a dresser they’d bought at an auction 3 years previously. They promptly called the sheriff’s office reporting the find and the circumstances of the dresser’s acquisition. They’re returning the money to the estate from which the dresser was acquired. “We knew it wasn’t ours,” Mrs. Simpson said. Understandably, not all money or objects of wealth found may be rightfully considered the property of the finder. Mrs. Virginia Katsuki, 63, who could aptly be described, no doubt, as a frugal woman of simple tastes, died recently of an apparent heart attack in Los Angeles. Police found candy and English walnuts in her pantry along with $31,000 in cash. She had been a gardener in Beverly Hills for some rich people who were “tight” and never paid her enough. There’s probably a message here somewhere. I wonder if eating candy and English walnuts was Mrs. Katsuki’s secret for accumulating all that money’ Something to think about!
Like the mythical Hydra, that old bug-a-boo, honesty, continues to raise its frustrating head in all too many cases of found treasure. Philadelphia sewer workers, Louis Lagana and Cardell Witliams found an estimated $100,000 to $250,000 in soggy $100. bills while cleaning a storm sewer outlet. Police, after sorting, washing, and drying the faded bills, determined that there was only $92,400. (Maybe some of it washed away!) A lot of people promptly appeared claiming the money was theirs, but not too convincingly. The Deputy Mayor said, “Honesty in city employees is a valid commodity and ought to be rewarded.” Evidently Lagana and Williams stand to profit considerably from their honesty–and their luck.
Some folks may get the impression, at this point, that all the loot worth lugging off has already been found, and give up treasure hunting altogether. That would be a great tragedy of course, so to dispel all thoughts along that line, I’m going to tell you about a big bonanza that was lost but has, not been found.
Mrs. Grace James withdrew $1,000. in cash from the bank in San Bernardino, California, and stored it in a box, temporarily, for moving expenses. She then accidentally discarded the box in the trash. The San Bernardino refuse department spent 2 days “treasure hunting” for the box, but were unable to locate it. Supt. Raymond Powers said, “it’s worse than hunting for a needle in a hay stack.” Seems its covered with about 300 tons of rubbish! If you’re not too busy, this might be a good one to check out. Chances are, there won’t be too much competition. Just don’t spread it all over town when you find it! (Either the money or the fact that you have found it.) Even Santa Claus gets into the act. Take the case of Creed Blevins, a Kerrville, Texas, businessman, who, in effect, did old St. Nick in with one big blast of his shotgun. A couple of months before Christmas, Blevins folded a $100. bill and stuck it in the barrel of his shotgun for safekeeping until time to shop for Christmas presents. Meanwhile, bird season arrived and ..you guessed it. At the first flutter of wings, the hundred smackers was blown into smitherreens! Only Blevins wasn’t aware of what had happened until several weeks later. When it finally dawned on him that he’d perpetrated a real blunder with his old blunderbus, he said, with remarkable foresight, “I decided I wouldn’t tell my wife what I’d done.” Nevertheless, he returned to where the hunt started that day and, after considerable searching, finally located 11 pieces of the green Yule confetti. these he taped together and the bank gave him a new $100. bill in exchange for his mistake.
This just goes to show you that persistence and a cool head compensate for a multitude of sins when hunting treasure–even if it’s one you lost yourself. Especially when there’s an ever-loving wife in the background who doesn’t dig the funny business when it comes to money! When was the last time you visited an outhouse? Not too many years ago, that was a question frequently asked by the family doctor. If you couldn’t remember, he probably had the cure for you right there in his little black bag. Nowadays, the once familiar outhouse, like so many things, has faded into the folklore of our American heritage, but the alert and methodical treasure hunter recognizes it, even now, as a potential source of valuable goodies. This morning’s paper, in fact, contains an account of a rich find made by Penfield Cowan, head of restoration of Madame John’s Legacy In New Orleans. Workmen were digging trenches through an old privy site there when they began a unearth artifacts of various types, some dating back to the 1700′s. So far, over 2,000 items have been recovered. If you’ll pardon the pun, one shouldn’t turn up his nose at these old privy sites, when located. Just bring out the old metal detector and shovel and go to work!
And speaking of metal detectors, it’s about time we brought them into the picture. Harold Sprague of Nahant, Mass., is what might be termed a successful beachcomber Using a metal detector, he has found more than $10.000. worth of old coins, rings, jewelry, etc. He even found a set of solid gold teeth. (Probably lost by a plumber or automotive mechanic!) Sprague says “l’m lured by the hope of someday finding something very valuable” Then there is Donald Bassard of North Adams, Mass., who went up on Mount Greylock about 12 years ago to pick berries for Christmas decorations and lost a diamond-clustered gold ring valued at $600.00. He returned to the area many times to search for the ring, but was never successful. Finally, he invested $180. in a good metal detector, went back to the mountain, and in about 3 minutes he’d located the ring–buried under 6 inches of dead leaves! Even though the ring he found was his own, who can deny that he was $420. richer (instant wealth) in consequence of his investment in a metal detector?
I’ve read and heard of an untold number of interesting finds with metal detectors; some substantial enough to attract the I. R. S. people from the four corners of the compass. Some, of course, much smaller. Serious treasure hunters, naturally, aren’t overly talkative among strangers, and most of them don’t publicize their finds in the newspapers right away. And that is as it should be. Why subject yourself to a lot of legal entanglements, false claims, and gold-diggin’ widow women? No offense is intended or implied against widows. (Those know are fine people. Except for the gold- diggers!)
Here, we’ve discussed only a few of the lost treasures, most of which have been recovered recently, by accident. And by folks who weren’t even looking for treasure, or much else evidently. Think of the enormous amount of wealth that has been lost, hidden, buried, and sunken in the streams, lakes and oceans over the centuries–awaiting the intrepid treasure hunter properly equipped with his trusty metal detector, loot sack, and just a minimum of luck.