Can We Ever Come Together Again…

With the recent renewal of the FMDAC, the attempted revival of WWATS, and recent rumors that the Task Force will resurface soon, I hope that all will look  at the possibility of joining forces, being proactive, and taking on the big cheeses, and by that I mean state and national legislatures.

This came to mind the other day when I discovered that one of the FMDAC’s appearances before a Senate Sub-Committee back in 1987 was actually out there in cyberspace.  It’s a long and boring read, but it’s there, in it’s entirety, mispellings and all (I am amazed at how those who documented these hearings kept their jobs).  The book I received  on that one hearing is 1,475 pages long, and it too is filled with mis-spelled words.

The bill in question at that time was the California Desert Protection Act of 1987,  an attempt to declare thousands of acres of the Mojave desert as a Wilderness  Area.   A label that would have prohibited off road vehicles, prospecting, metal detecting, gem hunting, etc..  Because the   Prospectors Club of Southern California asked us to help, we encouraged our members to write to their congressmen,  and we personally made it a point to be part of the sub committee hearings in Washington, D.C.,in order to have our voice heard.

I was able to speak thanks to Chic Hect, Senator from Nevada, who was an ally and someone you could call when  you needed more information about what was going on in the nation’s capital.   Frank Lautenberg, from New Jersey, was another such friend. Back then it was much easier to  get through to your elected representatives, and we didn’t have email. Today?  Impossible!  Senator Hecht passed away in 2006, and Frank is still doing his thing on behalf of New Jersey…..

On the day that I was scheduled to speak (along with many, many others) I met Archie Ray (Legislative Chairman for the FMDAC at the time) and his wife  Rosalie (FMDAC treasurer) on the train. I left from Trenton, New Jersey, and they came on in Baltimore. We had lunch with Charles McKinney, president of the  Atlantic Alliance for Maritime Heritage (another allied group), and then headed to the hearings.

When we arrived there were TV cameras everywhere, and we couldn’t figure out why. Archie joked “guess they knew you were coming”.   We soon found out the  reason. Also speaking that day was Morgan Fairchild and Shelley Duvall (friends of Senator Allan Cranston, who was sponsoring the bill).

Must say they both were worth more than a few looks, and sitting  at a table with them was not an unpleasant experience.


A little aside….after the hearing Morgan Fairchild came up and whispered in my ear that she’d like me to join her for dinner in her room that night.I explained that  I had a long trip home, and would get in touch at a later time (At least I thought it happened, but Archie assured me it really didn’t….).


There were also many allied groups speaking that day, and I hope that someone from the three current national groups will take the time to go through the list, and see if they are still around.  They can be found by  clicking here and scrolling down to the list of those speaking that day.

My statement and supporting documents from White’s and Fisher Lab’s can be found starting on page 676 if anyone is interested. There were  also supporting documents from most all other manufacturers but they do not appear as they were sent later.

I know I am beginning to sound like Scott Clark now, but for any group to truly represent us, they must be made up of be full time,  dedicated, paid employees. We can no longer depend on phone calls or emails. I hate to say this but these tactics have become passé.   Proactive today means in your face, live representation, and no  if, ands or buts, and we must join forces with other similar groups…

If a local park is closed in Indiana…you look into it, find out the reasons, talk to the local club, and if it’s something that you think was uncalled for, or that  TH’ers were penalized unfairly, you send money to hire a local attorney. I can tell you from our efforts to open Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, a local attorney,  with the knowledge of how the local political system works, can make a helluva difference.

If it’s a state sponsored problem, you follow the same procedure, but make sure your voice is heard, not just through emails, phone calls and letters, but by personal  visits to those pushing the legislation or to those that can help, in an effort to have your voice heard, and if necessary, to offer a counter proposal, a compromise that  might satisfy both parties….

Our pastime can survive, and we can even thrive, but there needs to be a heroic and monumental joining of forces if that is to happen. That means, all the wannabe national  organizations, all the clubs, all the individual TH’ers, and most importantly, all the manufacturers. We, who were part of the early FMDAC efforts, were able to do things,  and make things happen without a lot of money. It was easy back then because we had unity, a purpose, a goal, the manufacturers support and the drive to get things done….

Now, can we do it again?



Amazinely twenty years later I was working for Border’s Books and Music in Dallas, Texas, and one of our regular customers…..Morgan Fairchild!!    She came in often, and  sometimes would spend time in our cafe, enjoying a coffee, etc..   One day I got up the nerve to ask her if she remembered that day in Washington, D.C.,  and amazingly she did.

She was easy to talk to, and yes was still so very easy to look at,  but amazingly, she never mentioned the invite to dinner?



Filed under Metal Detecting

22 responses to “Can We Ever Come Together Again…

  1. alan

    Well said! Yes I do remember! Thanks to all who worked so hard to make sure we have enjoyed this hobby for the past 25 years.

    Who will help keep this hobby alive and free for the next 25 years?

  2. Hi Dick

    I agree, everyone has to get on board as 1 group, and not a few groups. The manufacturers also have to join forces, and get behind us if they want detector sales in the future. We have tried to fight the problem here in Wisconsin, but got no where when the Indian tribes got involved with their lawyers.

    Thanks again for your help in the past. I hope we can join enough forces and do what you did again.

    Ken Briggs
    Three Seasons Treasure Hunters LLC
    Chippewa Falls, WI.

  3. bill from lachine

    Honest I read your post…..but when I saw Morgan Fairchild I completely forgot what you had written….must be a guy thing…lol.

    ps….I’ll send you a picture of myself with my beach detecting buddies…..I’m sure you can come up with an interesting slant for one of your blogs.

    Regards + HH


  4. Hi Bill
    Like you, I take the academic view of Ms Fairchild, and have to say she makes two outstanding points that I greatly admire.

  5. bill from lachine

    John H,


    Regards + HH


  6. Mike Smith

    I have real doubts about those three organizations coming together as one but they should be able to work together. Too much animosity between two of them (hopefully that will change with both organizations under new leadership) and the third has/had a lot of money donated to them by Minelab but we (I signed up to their alert system months ago) have not heard from them since last spring.

    Emails, phone calls and letters are still a very effective way to contact “Officals” and yes it would be nice to have reps to attend meetings but generally they (attorney) cost more money than the three organizations have combined, at this time. Ask WI clubs how much it recently cost!

    What is the answer? Emails, phone calls, letters and local club members attending meetings, if you can get them. Most are too complaicent or “don’t want to make waves”. It worked in KS and FL a couple years ago and still can. Just do it!

    • Mike I think you may be right, but it’s okay to dream. I see no reason why there couldn’t be a summit meeting with the three organizations, reps from the manufacturers and magazine publishers. Everyone stands to lose if things keep going like they are now. JMO.

  7. The groups, all of them, will have to come together for any real progress to be made. United we stand, divided we fall has never been more true.

  8. pocketspill

    I cannot think of any argument for there to be more than one organization. There are endless examples of how this does nothing but dilute the influence and effectiveness. Once you eliminate “egos” as a reason, what others are there?

    I’d volunteer my professional skills, pay substantial dues and get involved if there were a plan for modernizing the organization. It needs sufficient cash flow and a unified, focused message …it needs to run like a brand and everything else shut off. I just don’t see it happening. I’ve seen this ruin advocacy programs so many times that I’ve become weary of it.

    The Minelab money: – IF the detecting community spoke as one voice and asked them to explain where it’s gone and what happened, they would be unable to ignore it.

    If we stand still, we’re going backwards. Our opposition are assertive and articulate.

    • Thanks Scott….are you willing to push for a meeting of all the parties? I see no reason why it couldn’t happen IF they were really concerned for the future of the pastime. The three “supposed” national groups, the manufacturers, the magazine publishers, and any and all related groups (accessory manufacturers, distributors, dealers, etc…)

      I also appreciate your offer to contribute and particpate. You could offer a lot of very solid advice, as well as online support.

  9. CousinEddie

    I would love to see one organization. I agree with a lot of what pocketspill has to say in his reply. I would donate my time and pay substantial dues as well, to be involved with an organization that can get agenda’s accomplished.Things need to be updated and new people brought to the forefront to speak for and get the enthusiasm back in the metal detecting community.

  10. Archie Ray

    Hi Dick: You did a nice write up on our trip to Washington. Nothing like adding a little humor. It brought back some good memories. As far as forming “One National Group” isn’t that what you formed with the FMDAC! All of these run off groups should come together. They could come up with a new title. There’s an old saying “United We Stand”. I would wish them luck! Like you, I am 80 years old, quite happy, sitting on my ass, mostly because old age problems have caught up to me.


    P.S.: Rosalie also liked your article!

  11. Keith Wills

    WWATS has always been open to unity with all the organizations from the begining and still is. The very reason for the latest Rendezous was just that, to unite as many as possible as one force. Thousands of invitations was sent out across the country to each of the organizations including the Rock Hounds, Fossil collectors, the GPAA to name a few. WWATS has always been a part of several other organizations working towards the same goals of “keeping public lands open for the people”. Some refuse to accept it unless they get full credit for whatever may come from the groups work if positive, but those in WWATS and the others are not asking for notice, that is not why we are in it, nor the fight, or recognition, or promotion. We had hopes that many of the other groups would attend this past week at 2013 Rendezous because our associated group PLP (Public Lands for the People) was there to speak to all of us and explain the importance of all groups coming together and how we would ALL become a force to be-recon with. They told us of the law suits they have with the federal government at this time and the much needed support from all to stop it from happening in other states due to a president being set if they were to loose. It was hours and hours of very important information I wish everyone could of heard. YES, It is VERY IMPORTANT that all of us are on the same page and working toward the same goals, or we will ALL fail! Keith Wills

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