At one time or another we’ve all said “you have to walk over it to find it” but let’s be honest, we’ve also done very little to make that happen in our own in-the-field adventures. At least I fall into that category.
Finding great places to detect used to be my forte but as I’ve aged I’ve gotten lazy and now make excuses, though thanks to my assorted ailments my excuses now carry a little more weight. What about you? Working hard at finding those virgin sites or hardly working?
Finding places to swing your coil is dependent upon your desire to find the good stuff, aka the old and not the new. One quick and very easy way to make that happen is to seek out the senior citizen! Yup, old dudes like me. Understand we won’t be around forever and each and every day you postpone picking our brains you lose our stories, our remembrances of what happened years ago and like it or not, our wisdom. Back in the 70’s and 80’s I talked to seniors who shared stories from the early 1900’s. Today, if you’re lucky, you might hear memories from the 30’s and 40’s.
So where can you find the senior citizens in your area? Where do they hang out? For starters how about the library? The park? What about the coffee shop, the local restaurant, the feed mill, the community center? Try checking out your city/town/county website. Most have a senior activities page and offer programs and classes. Here in Texas you’ll find a lot of retirees at the local Dairy Queen or McDonalds, having coffee in the morning. Not sure how the DQ became such a senior hangout but it’s a fact you will find old-timers taking up space there.
Never miss the opportunity to talk to old-timers (photo courtesy of FramedAndShot.com)
A Little Give and Take
You might also consider assisted living centers and nursing homes. A little more complex approach, but very doable if you’re willing, is to reciprocate and share your pastime. Put together a presentation, a program perhaps, with slides, photos and take along your finds. I did that once with a boy scout group in exchange for permission to hunt the camp grounds. Proved very productive and the kids had a ball. Imagine if you will what the older folks will think when you show them your finds. Things that they grew up with. Items that they used every day, coins that they had in their pocket. Again it will take a little more effort but it’s a win, win proposition for all concerned. Tailor the presentation so it works with other age groups and hit the road.
How best to approach the senior citizen? Well first and foremost don’t be shy. Understand that most of the time they are desirous of conversation. In many cases they have outlived their friends, are widowed and simply don’t have someone interested in what they have to say or offer. Asking them to reminisce is easier than you might think.
Start with a “hi might I bother you for a minute? I have a metal detector and enjoy looking for old coins, buttons, relics and wondered if you might have ideas on where I might look?” Old areas that you know of that might be worth my time?”
Questions You Might ask –
Where did you go to school? Was it a large school, small school? Where was it located? Is it still standing?
What sort of outdoor activities did you enjoy? Were you into sports? Did you play baseball, football? If so, where?
Is the house you grew up in still standing?
Did you like to fish, hunt, swim,? Was there a local swimming hole?
Did you and your family picnic? Was there a picnic grove? Where was it located?
When you were growing up did carnivals, circuses come to town? Where did they set up?
Were there community celebrations (July 4th, Labor Day, etc.). Where did these events take place?
When you were a kid where did you and your friends hang out?
Were did you got to church?
Were there revival meetings in the area?
Was there ever a resort here?
Were you by chance into scouting? If so where did hold your meetings? Was there a scout campgrounds?
Where was the closet amusement park?
Was there ever a racetrack in the area?
When it snowed was there a particular place you went sledding?
Was there ever a movie drive-in in the area?
Do you remember any popular roadside stands?
Were there band concerts?
When your conversation has finished thank them and hand them a card with your name and phone number. Tell them to call if they think of places later on. Maybe connect on the internet if they’re into social media. You might also consider inviting one or two to tag along, bring a spare machine, get them into the game
Don’t just focus on the men either, the gals gave a lot to offer as well. Having been married for 55 years I can assure you their memory is pretty damn good!
Find an old timer, listen, learn and make a friend…