Time to Ponder…

I think a lot about where I currently am with this pastime and whether I will ever get back in the field. Ailments and physical problems aside I just don’t have the right situation to inspire any more. Sure I’ve had the urges to get out and just dig “anything” but that urge lasts about fifteen minutes. Clad just doesn’t cut it any more and if I’m going to crawl home achy and sore it’s going to be because I was digging the good stuff.

I think a lot about those old small town parks, rural homesteads and the early 1900s schools and churches. I miss the quiet solitude of searching the meadow beside the creek – the one that used to be an old picnic area and I miss finding nothing newer than 1920. I miss walking into the wooded area and seeing the old foundation that reinforced my map reading. I miss driving a mile up the road and searching the old one room school (now a municipal building) and I miss having a hard time deciding just which old turn of of the century site to spend my time at.

This old picnic grove was ten minutes from home…

It’s now painfully obvious I can’t find nor create those scenarios any longer and it’s depressing. Pretty certain too that places like that are disappearing at an alarming rate. Too many tekkies, too much competition, too much social media.  I know I should be thankful that I at least had those experiences but it’s hard to throw in the towel and even harder getting old.

I might be wrong but…

…today’s tekkies are easier to please in that their idea of old, their satisfaction level is much different. The items they seek and appreciate differ greatly. I was a coin collector before I was a detectorist and as a result most everything else took a back seat. Oh I’ve found my share of buttons, buckles, bullets and metal piffwangers over the years but very few of them excited me. Today of course all of these items are sought after, drooled over, collected and shared on social media. To that end everybody today is a relic hunter.

Detectorists today also have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a gazillion forums. Unfortunately none of it inspires me.  As much as I try I just can’t buy into the hype. Seems everybody has an agenda and it usually fans, followers, likes, shares, fame and fortune. Yes I know I’m old and cynical but I think have a pretty good read when it comes to BS.

Anyway I have a little more recovery time to deal with all this and it gives me time to mull things over. I also have a Simplex love affair and it’s standing in the corner saying  – “hey old man, why don’t you take me out and show me a good time?”. 


Ring a Bell?

Music was once my life and I’m still a listener, reader and fan. Herbie Hancock, jazz pianist was asked “Why is jazz not part of the pop scene anymore?” He replied

“Because it’s not the music that matters anymore. People don’t care about the music itself anymore, but about who makes the music. The public is more interested in celebrities and how a certain artist is famous than music. It changed the way the audience relates to music. He no longer has a transcendental connection to music and its quality. Just want the glamour. Jazz doesn’t want to be part of it. Do you know why? It’s not about humility, or arrogance, a posture ′′ we don’t want to be famous, we’re underground “. None of that. Jazz is about the human soul, not about the appearance. Jazz has values, teaches to live the moment, work together, and especially to respect the next. When musicians gather to play together, you have to respect and understand what the other does. Jazz in particular is an international language that represents freedom, because of its roots in slavery. Jazz makes people feel good about themselves….”

Herbie Hancock – Prose magazine verse and art.


Hey Y’all – It’s a New Season


“In my mind, I am this awesome, adventurous bad ass. But in reality I am just a bookworm that really likes wine”…..S.L. Jennings



Filed under Metal Detecting

51 responses to “Time to Ponder…

  1. Dick, please post a photo of some of your piffwangers. I’ve never found one, and I’d love to see what I’m missing.

    • Dan piffwangers are UMO’s (unidentified metal objects). The late Joe Cook came up with that description.

      I will say one piffwanger I shared was identified by someone as “a piece of a screw that held the handle together on a 1865 Rebel pistol, made in Hangnail Notch, loosiana. Only one like it that I know of”….

  2. john taylor

    “I think I have a pretty good read when it comes to b.s.” yeah!..you’ve kissed the “blarney” rock a few times in your illustrious career! I feel similar to you dick! I am “still” searching for a few of those places you mentioned. as long as I can still get around, the search will never end. it’s “still” out there!..I’m just sayin’

    j (2-stabs,waitin’ on 3 ) t.

  3. Randy Dee

    Hi Dick
    I am much like yourself very disillusioned at the modern day detectorists who can now only dream of what a good day detecting is about, fortunately for us old guys we have done it all and been right there among the decent finds unfortunately for the new detectorists we haven’t left much for them to find.
    Like you I have been waving the stick about for a long time, here in the UK for 46 years to be precise but now this old age tragedy is taking over and it is our turn to dream about our past good times.
    Good Luck Dick.

  4. First, follow John Prine’s advice and blow up your TV.
    That is, quit watching those idiotic “reality” shows where the digging is done with power tools.
    Next, forget the parks and schoolyards. Do your research (remember?) and get permission to hunt some never-detected private yards in old, downtown neighborhoods.
    Silver awaits!

    • Dan I stopped watching the reality shows when they took “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” off the air. Have no idea what you mean when you refer to power tools and a lot of the downtown neighborhoods require three German Shepherds and six stun guns.

      • I should have said “downtown homes IN SMALL TOWNS.” I’m guessing there are a lot of small towns you could visit not too far from you? Doesn’t Texas have about ten thousand of them?
        The small rural towns in my area (central Illinois) are like going back in time about 50 years.

      • Yeah we do. Was just kidding, though the history here is not quite as old as New Jersey. I’m just a curmudgeon remember.

  5. It’s all very sad, but true. I myself have become more of a curmudgeon as I see the same “I’m NEW to this…” post on our social media groups more 10-times a day. I always want to reply “Unfortunately you are a little late to the party…around 50-years too late!” but I don’t, as the “new” people in the hobby always digitally sidle by me as I rant “THERE are TOO many PEOPLE in this HOBBY!” and think I’m nuts. Maybe I am, but I will never be found taking a photo of 50-bottlecaps, 5-rusty tent stakes, 35-bottle caps, 104-pop-tabs, a corroded watch battery, a flatted can, and a few hotel keys proudly displayed on a wet paper towel. During my time searching hill and dale, these were all considered a very bad day of useless detecting, and you quietly dumped the lot in a trash can and laid low should someone find out. Not today though, it’s top stuff on “JUNKFINDERS” social media metal detecting channel that has to have prize-contests twice a week to get anyone to watch at all. If someone does display some top-of-the-line jewelry or coin finds, you can be sure half of them have been faked. I don’t get the same feeling going out with a machine anymore like I used too. There was a time I was really excited to get out almost anywhere to detect and no one bothered you in the least. Other than wild birds chirping and the breeze through the trees, you could concentrate, think deep thoughts, and have real satisfaction with the quality of old coins and relics you would dig. Most of those places here are gone and are now acres of asphalt, or 30-story condos. I got a lead on a large citrus grove the other day, the woman said to get over quickly and hunt because her grove had been taken from her by the State, and they would be plowing it to kingdom-come for a new roadway interchange. I feel you pain, DIck, about the sate of the hobby, but still hope you can regroup and get back out there. Say hello to Fay for us. Patti says “Hi!”

    • So you mean I’m not the only curmudgeon? Just kidding Jim. You’re a helluva lot more active and I’m envious.

      I loved your “I will never be found taking a photo of 50-bottlecaps, 5-rusty tent stakes, 35-bottle caps, 104-pop-tabs, a corroded watch battery, a flatted can, and a few hotel keys proudly displayed on a wet paper towel…” I think that a LOT. I’m also amazed at how such things can be dissected, analyzed, and sometimes priced, LOL.

      I’ve honestly stopped pretending I’m anything other than an old cynic. Much too late for that.

      Have one for me my friend and hi to Patti.

  6. Nick

    As we get older, we get slower……the slower you go with your detector the more good old recoveries you can bring home. 50 years ago I hunted after a number of “hot dogs” had raced through and picked up many oldies that they missed. Lots of those “hunted” areas are still out there and I still like to go over them with my old detector(s) at my leisure. It’s not over yet!

    • “As we get older, we get slower……the slower you go with your detector the more good old recoveries you can bring home…” Well I hadn’t thought of that…interesting. I tend to look at it like I better hurry up and git ‘er done before I keel over…

      And while I know it’s not over yet I can feel that fat lady breathing down my neck. Thanks Nick, good to hear from you.

      • john taylor

        dick ya got a long way to go yet! we need to be antagonized and irritated by you! after all,ya can’t always depend on the wife to do it! Woot!..woot! time for another taste! I’m just sayin’

        j (2 stabs,waitin’ on 3) t.

  7. Joe

    I’m in the same boat you are, Dick. The only hobby I truly ever loved, where I never got bored, where every hunt was like opening a present on Christmas morning, where I made so many friends and experienced such great adventures…now seems to be in my rear-view mirror, aside from watching Youtube videos and reading the forums. And I’m only 45!

    Due to my stroke, I can barely walk anymore. The days of traipsing through grassy fields & wooded sites for hours on end wasn’t too long ago, yet it feels like an eternity in detectorist time.

    But as much as it sucks – and I truly mean this – I’m grateful for having experienced the pastime for the 12 years that I did. While I never crossed all of my bucket-listers off my wishlist, I DID find plenty of interesting/historical items lost from previous generations. The satisfaction of discovering new hunting spots, making the finds, researching them online, showing them off to friends & family, etc. provided me with thousands of hours of enjoyment. That can never be taken away.

    Most importantly, metal detecting got me out of my shell, and allowed me to meet MANY fantastic people. By nature, I was always the anti-social “lone wolf” type. This hobby truly opened up my world.

    I know what you’re going through, and yes, not being able to partake anymore in the things we love is a bummer. But at least we were BLESSED by getting to experience it in the first place. A lot of people never get that satisfaction in life.

    Keep on keeping on!

    • Joe sorry to hear that. Had assumed you were on the mend and ready to get out again. Hoping that’s still a possibility down the road. You’re right too that we are blessed to have had the opportunity to enjoy the best this pastime had to offer.

      Sending good vibes my friend. Take care and get started on that blog!

  8. Tony

    Dick, on a lighter note – I enjoyed Herbie Hancock and I didn’t know he said those informative words. Very cool.
    I didn’t see Herbie play, I guess late 60’s/early 70’s but I did see Wynton Marsalis play at Jersey City University before he became famous and it was a student rate – man we had some great music back then.

  9. Joe

    Thanks, Dick. I am well into the mending part, but unfortunately, certain physical aspects haven’t improved much. The entire right side of my body (except my face) is essentially dead weight. I can use my hand & arm, but my grip strength is that of a 5 year old child. I can “walk”, but I have to swing my leg out (because it’s stiff as a board) and the knee doesn’t bend easily anymore. Plus my stamina took a big hit, too. I can only make it down a few aisles in the pharmacy before I’m completely winded, and have to sit on my walker seat.

    I walk unassisted in the house because there are many things always nearby to grab onto, in the event I lose my balance, but I don’t want to chance it outside, where a bad tumble could easily break a few bones. I’ve fell twice since out of rehab, and I couldn’t get up. Had to call the cops once, and a neighbor helped me the second time. So I always use my walker or scooter when outside.

    But I am EXTREMELY lucky to be alive, as the stroke I had was both very rare and very major. Just Google “vertebral arterial dissection” and you’ll see what I mean.

    On the upside, I went to the rehab clinic 2 weeks ago to take a cognitive test (which I passed), and then a road test (also passed). The tests are mandatory for all brain injury patients who wish to drive again. I’ll have to use a special adapter in the car which places the gas pedal by my left foot instead of the right, but other than that, I’m free as a bird to drive. Since it’s MUCH easier than walking for me, getting some of my independence back through driving means the world.

    Your funny blurb about the piffwhanger made me think of Lisa’s post last week. There’s value in EVERYTHING we find. I was always aware of that when it came to my finds, but how many of us really want to save/catalogue rusty grommets or a pair of old broken scissors? This is a hobby for most of us, not a profession. But I do believe we can at least try to be a bit more methodical in our approach, and take a cue from the archeologists on this matter. Not to earn their respect or have them like us, but because there’s actually validity in what Lisa said. The junk we find mightn’t look like much, though it will help in providing context into a site or a certain time window.

    The story behind what we find is sometimes better than the find itself 😉

    • Wow, sorry Joe. I shouldn’t have assumed and should have enquired first. Fay spent 45 years working as an ICU nurse and very little of her work or her experiences rubbed off on me. I’m the simpleton of the family. Between you and Jim Fielding I’m feeling like a complete ass for complaining about my piddling aches and pains. Forgive me.

      Happy for you too with regards to getting your license. That has to be somewhat liberating. Hoping things get better for you in other areas as well.

      As for my adding context to the archaeological record, it’s about 46 years too late. I do have a collection of wine corks though and there’s a story behind each one of them. Do you think they would like them?

      Joe, I apologize for assuming all was well with you. I learned a lesson and won’t do it again. Take care and don’t forget to start that blog (or book).

      • Joe

        Why are you apologizing, Dick? You did nothing wrong! I only mentioned my ailments because of your blog post…we’re both in the same crappy boat when it comes to detecting…or rather the lack thereof!

        Aside from not being able to detect, my spirits are high most days, and other then the walking issues, my health is actually pretty good. Though I do need to lose the 60lbs. I put on since getting home from rehab!

        Speaking of corks…

        A priest was driving down the road one day when he got stopped by a cop.

        The cop smelled alcohol on the priest’s breath and saw an empty wine bottle on the floor of the car.

        He said to the priest, “Father, have you been drinking?”

        The priest replied, “Only water, officer.”

        The cop then asked him, “Then why can I smell wine?”

        The priest looked down at the bottle and said, “Good Lord! He’s done it again!”

      • “we’re both in the same crappy boat when it comes to detecting…or rather the lack thereof!”…..but the reasons are so different Joe and that’s why I feel bad.
        Thanks for being my friend (and for the corny joke, LOL).

    • Hi Joe:
      I don’t know you, but my bestest to you.

      • john taylor

        hi Joe! you have been a frequent productive contributor to dick’s blog for a long time! may the good lord hold you in the palm of his ever-loving hand. stay strong!

        j-(2-stabs,workin’ on 3) t.

  10. Honestly, just cruise around on a weekend. See which playground is the busiest. Then hit it Monday morning. I know you are still recovering, but a tot lot will still produce so much randomness. It will whet your whistle and you may be surprised at what the crumb snatchers dropped. Yup

    • Matt I did the playground thing years and years ago and they were areas that were in use when I was a kid, resulting in old silver. Today they’re all gone. I might take your advice down the road though. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • john taylor

      this is “dead nuts” accurate, and the totters will surprise ya with what is hidden in most of ’em also,”curb strips” can sometimes “astound” too!


  11. John Devereux

    Hi Dick.
    Piffwanger. 😂😂😂
    You have had a good run Dick so don’t be too disheartened. And you made me and many others laugh and cut through the BS.
    Here in the UK permissions are being sucked up and lost to groups who pay the farmer a bundle of cash. I’ve been kicked off one of my permissions because of one of these groups. So now you pay £20 a time to search land which was once free to explore. Kind of sucks the heart out of it. And of course there are all the social media posts about their exciting piffwanger finds. 😂😂
    I think I will stick to the beach now as nobody can take that permission away.
    On the bright side the sun is shining here in Eastbourne and my lovely wife is bringing me coffee and breakfast in bed. 😁😁
    Tatty bye.
    All the best

    • John I know I’ve had a good run, just hoping that there’s a few crumbs left over for an old codger. Sorry to hear about the permissions. Seems commercialism has slowly but surely creeped in and ruined what was once a free and easy day out.

      “On the bright side the sun is shining here in Eastbourne and my lovely wife is bringing me coffee and breakfast in bed…”

      Now that’s something I would enjoy. Can I come visit? Take care from a hot and humid morning in Texas.

  12. Yo Ricardo:
    Age? It’s all in the mind. A man’s only as old as the woman he feels. My detecting pal is getting on a bit and fit for his age and never mind detecting, he’s having regular sex at 78! Mind you, he lives at 72.
    Piffwanger? Is that a euphemism?

  13. Packrat

    Hey Dick. I remember in the 70s and early 80s when the true professional and top gun hunters were pretty quiet and you were lucky if you got to see them at certain events. They talked very little about their success unless you were in their circle. Now days everyone is a pro on the internet. LOL.
    Anyway I have to laugh at the pictures of people’s daily finds of a pile of garbage and maybe a half dozen new coins. If your new I can understand being excited about finding anything, but learn your machine. Discriminate better or learn your numbers so your good targets at least equal your junk targets

    • It’s a new era Larry, a new cadre and to be fair there are a lot of very good detectorists among them. Unfortunately their numbers make crowding and accessing sites more difficult. It’s no longer “I think I’ll go detecting”. Now it’s “I better get out before that site is hammered or closed down”.

      And yes I’m amazed at what detectorists photograph but here too we were fortunate to be involved when finds were more plentiful and more valuable. It is what it is my friend. Take care up in the great northwest.

      • john taylor

        this is ”dead nuts” accurate! dick! especially the latter! takin’ pics of “half-ass” finds to post on the ‘net leaves one with the feeling that these people have no lives, so to speak, which on the surface, is disconcerting unfortunately…I’m just sayin’


    • john taylor

      forget the numbers! learn the “audio nuances” and your discrimination “‘accuracy” will improve exponentially! what’s been said HAS been said many, many times before, in the final analysis, the most accurate discriminator is the one “between your ears!”
      I’m just sayin’

      j (2-stabs,waitin’ on 3 ) t.

      • “in the final analysis, the most accurate discriminator is the one “between your ears!” —hmm, so that’s why you’re not finding much.

  14. john taylor

    I was referring to your “set” of ears, but noted! I find my share dick!..but like you and everyone else WHO TELLS THE TRUTH, there are days when I get “skunked!” I thank god everyday that I can still get around to hunt. still enjoy just getting out and swinging away! just sayin’


  15. john taylor

    hey dick! saw the ‘rooster” on sale today! they want $6.95 the bottle! course,ya gotta drive for 7 hours or so to get it, but what’s that to.a genuine “afcionodo”. just sayin’

    j (2-stabs,workin’ on 3) t.

  16. Ed B.

    Great post Dick…..I agree with you about the old sites being gone and finds not being what they were back when I started detecting. At age 75 I’m thankful that I can still get out there for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning and get some swings in. If all I find is clad coins, and that’s usually the case, then so be it. I’ll take what I can get……it’s the relaxation and fresh air that makes it fun.
    This hobby isn’t the only one to have evolved into something not as good as it was in the old days though. Like you, I was a coin collector long before I was a detectorist having collected coins since the late 1950’s. Back then you could get some pretty good coins in your pocket change or by searching rolls bought at the bank. You could fill your albums and even put away some of the scarcer coins and then return the rolls and start the process all over again. Not so anymore……the only coins in your pocket nowadays are clad and in order to get anything old or interesting you have to buy them which is nowhere near as much fun as getting them in your change.
    And just like all the phony detecting shows and YouTube videos there are people on those Home Shopping Shows hawking things are are as common as the day is long but touting them as “rare” to the unknowing.

    • Ed I too remember finding old coins in change and filling in those folders. Barbers, Mercs, IH pennies and even a flying eagle here and there. I wanted badly to buy up a lot of silver prior to and just after the ’64 date but just could afford to.

      Have seen the hucksters on TV peddling over priced coins/tokens/commemoratives and I’m sure they make a lot of money off the unknowing and gullible.

      Ed I know when I share things like this I come off as a complainer but hey, it’s MY blog and telling my side of the story, sharing my thoughts, my feelings, my opinions is what a blog is about, or at least that’s how I see it. I have no doubts at all that today’s tekkies will sound just as cynical when they become senior citizens. Then again maybe I am that old curmudgeon that likes to complain. Bottom line? I don’t give a rat’s ass.

      Thanks Ed, will let you know when I get that senior citizen home for detectorists up and running….

  17. Hey! Just checked out the that senior citizen Tekkies place you got in mind. On the $350 tariff, them thar ‘hors d’oeuvres’ you mention, is this a misprint? Or should that be Whores d’oeuvres? I mean, that is some kinda starter in anyone’s language.
    i’m just sayin’

  18. john taylor

    John! for chrissakes!..his wife was with him! maybe you should switch
    to the “mad dog” it’s a little less psychotic than your “taste!”

    j (2 stabs, workin’ on 3) t.

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