If I Had Known…


…I never took that big ole Coinmaster to that park in the 70’s? What if I simply gave up on learning how it worked, threw in the towel, gave up on the whole idea? It was certainly within the realm of possibility. Patience was never ever a virtue of mine.

I think about this often because those first few beeps and coins changed my life dramatically and that of my family as well. They’re the reason I am sitting here in a Dallas suburb, sipping a cheap Cabernet and writing a blog.  No small feat when you consider my dyed in the wool Yankee roots.  And oh yeah, thanks for sending that tornado along too….

Understand please, the only reason I got involved in this pastime was because I wanted to find coins. Not buttons, not rings, buckles, or relics. Just coins!! Old coins! I collected them and decided that I liked the idea of finding them compared to buying them. Well as soon as I bought the White’s Coinmaster and turned it on (and that was all I knew how to do) I did indeed start finding coins.

I was very fortunate in that this was in the mid 70’s and I lived in the Northeast. Even luckier was the site I chose to give my new gizmo a try.  I knew the area had been used for high school football in the 40’s and 50’s but little did I know it had also been used for dances, carnivals, circuses and community celebrations since the early 1900’s.

Over the ensuing months and years I found Liberty Seated, Barber, Indian Head cents and everything else in between. I can’t remember the number of times I visited the site but it was my “go to” when I had only a short amount of time to hunt, and if I didn’t come home with at least a half-dozen pieces of silver it was a bad day.

And yes I did eventually find more than coins….

I never came across another site quite like that and probably never will.  For one area to have been used for so many events and functions is rare. My guess is there may be a few more out there but my days of looking for them are over. I found hundreds, if not thousands of coins at that site BUT what if I had taken that big box detector somewhere else? What if I had found nothing but bottlecaps and trash? What if I had given up pursuing the hobby? Where would I be and what would my life be like today?

The park is still there today and I am stuck in Texas…..

Eventually I met a few other detectorists and they would always ask me why I hunted that park so much and my answer was the same as Willy Sutton’s……”because that’s where the money is”




Filed under Metal Detecting

14 responses to “If I Had Known…

  1. Good picture of you and the “finds table” there Mr. Stout! The good ol’ Whites Coinmaster 6000Di with that meter and non-ergonomic handle…and look at the knobs on that thing!!! All metal construction with dedicated analog circuitry and a dinner-plate concentric coil with an EM field that could sterilize the nearest bull! Those were the days! Good post Dick!

  2. BigTony

    Good post about starting off in this crazy hobby,
    I know what you mean about maybe you might have gone left instead of right, but luck was on your side.
    Although I didn’t start detecting as early as you; my first detector had knobs, no meter and I had to dig plenty of junk while hoping for a coin or ring.
    Let me ask you a question? Was there someone in the begining that got you started? Or was it in an attraction from a magazine like me?

  3. Ricardo:
    You write, “…They’re the reason I am sitting here in a Dallas suburb, sipping a cheap Cabernet and writing a blog…” Huh? What’s the ‘kin problem?

    I implore you to have a thought for today’s Tekkies. What will be they reminiscing in three decades time?

    “Hey, I remember when we had to physically search for finds, but now, with this new Tekkie technology which actually locates it for us by satellite, the problem is having to log-on every night to get the best prices.”

    Nah. We both had enjoyed the best of days; good research; the ability to read and understand maps; to talk with old timers, etc, etc, …these aspects are fundamental to successful treasure hunting, along with a still tongue. Some of the YooToob generation don’t know their arses from their elbows and prove it regularly. He, he, he.

    Never give a sucker an even break.

  4. BigTony

    So, you were a coin collector at an early age?
    Why were you reading Numismatic News back then?

    • Tony I started collecting late teens and I apologize, the publication was Numismatic Weekly, not Numismatic News. It was a weekly newspaper. Also subscribed to Coin World.

  5. Ron Guinazzo

    I don’t know,how many times I have thought the exact same thing. Losing my H.S. ring that day and deciding to try to find it. What if I had found it right away. Would I have stopped, mission complete! It’s funny how such small things can affect your entire life. I would have missed out on so much fun, travel and adventure. No National Geographic show, no Dig Wars, no hunting 8 weeks a year in England while running my hunts, not to mention all the great finds made over the years.

    Thanks for the memories my friend. It has been a while since I pondered that one.
    Have a glass of red and relive each moment.

  6. Dennis wynne

    Great post brother. I remember when I bought my first machine. 1974. Garrett BFO. No discrimination. But unlike you. I was ALREADY in Fort Worth working on the Fort Worth Fire Department. I was 21 and worked one day on two days off.

    My first detector came when I won a 1974 240Z Datsun from a local radio station. After cruising around for 6 months I sold it and bought my first house with a big chunk as a down. Had some money left over and bought that machine. I often wondered if I would have done it if I hadn’t won that car.

    My first coin was at a local junior high. A 1935 buffalo. But honestly I dug a ton of shhhhhhtuff bfor that coin. To me tho. It was magic.

    Those two days off from the fire service I was fishing hunting and detecting. I’d get someone to work my shift and I was gone a while 5 days. And the detecting took off.

    My park where I found a ton of coins was on the city’s first silk stockings row. It was loaded with pulltabs. Horribly so. By then the TR detectors were out. With the 10 inch coils.

    One day I was riding my motorcycle by that park. And the city had a tractor the disc plowing about a foot down.

    I turned around and spent the rest of that day and two more surface finding and detecting coins back as far as 1860’s. THEN, after 3 days I finally called my detecting buddy Joe. Maenner (you knew old Joe) and together we took over 2800 coins from that place over the course of the week.

    No tornado hit but I sure remember the day an in law stole a pile of silver along with 153 rings and a surface found .45 revolver that was fully functional.

    Had fate not put that car in my life, or had I gotten frustrated with all the crap I found beteeen coins, would I even be sitting here, reminiscing glory days with you? Who knows. i do know that coming up on my 43rd year of this hobby the great days of finds have pretty much passed.

    In my wildest dreams I never would have thought that harmonica reeds, or a button would be on someone’s bucket list. Or that a wheatie would be like the silver of the early days. Nowadays I know of one fat old man that hunts in the country mainly. I don’t find near as much silver as day’s gone by, but I have traded that for the glory of one or two really good finds across a spectrum beyond coins. And every once in a while I find something that causes a somewhat awkward happy dance that evokes a memory from that 21 year old kid I was back then. Hell its even worse. Now I have pretty much gone back to the no discriminate style of detecting. Just don’t dig it all. My digger is pretty much dug out… as always I am a huge fan brother. Would love to come see you sometime. Share some of that Cabernet perhaps. Till then. Blog on!

    • Dennis, thanks so much for taking the time to share that….cool story. 1974 Datsun….damn. Before my time I’m afraid, LOL. I do Remember Joe Maenner, great guy. Remember his shop and hunted with him a couple of times when I was with Garrett.

      What if’s can be applied to many things I guess but metal detecting was a big factor in my life and I want to address it again in another post. Thanks my friend for the kind words.

  7. Bob Sickler

    Dick… I bet if you opened up that old Coinmaster, you’d find the revolving power cage for the mice has since corroded frozen! 🙂 If that detector in the photo is yours, it’s in fine condition! Tornado didn’t nail it? Or is that before it got nailed?

  8. Bob Sickler

    I enjoyed your comparison between the White’s and Garrett and which one still works after being rained on for two days. One of my early hunt buddy’s left his ADS Groundhog atop his car after a hunt and rode off into the sunset having it tumble to the ground and roll over several times before I saw his brake lights. I ran over, grabbed it and turned it on… It was scarred, scratched, bruised, but Charlie’s little “brick poop house” continued to run perfectly. A literally true testament to solid engineering, quality materials and assembly made in the USA. I traded my old Groundhog back to the factory for a new AT-Pro a ways back and it was tough letting go of the memories attached to it. My first commercially made detector was a Garrett and the AT-Max will comfortably be my last. A long complete circle back home!

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