I was born in June of 1941 in Trenton, New Jersey. Lived most of my early years in Lambertville, New Jersey, and graduated Lambertville High School in 1959. From there it has been pretty much all down hill….
Early on I wanted to be a musician….a guitarist. I practiced long and hard, and my goal was to attend the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Asking my folks to foot the bill was out of the question, so after high school I started working in a silverware factory. Every day I sat at a die press, stepped on a pedal, and put a bowl into ten thousand spoons. One day however I looked at those sitting next to me, doing exactly the same task, and noticed that all had a finger (or two) missing. Thus ended my spoon making gig!
I did eventually attend Berklee, but after a year I returned to New Jersey in order to study with Billy Bauer, a prominent jazz guitar player in New York. During that time I played with various bands, and eventually secured a job with the Glenn Miller orchestra, touring for a short period of time. Then in 1964 the military draft came along, and I spent two years in the US Army, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Somehow I wound up in a howitzer battalion (18th Airborne Corps), but later made my way to the 440th Army Band.
In January of 1966 I left the military, came back to New Jersey, started teaching guitar, and playing on weekends when possible. I was also fortunate to play off and on at the Lambertville Music Circus, one of the first outdoor theaters under a tent. Not only was it a well-paying job, it was also a great learning experience, playing for the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Mathis, Robert Goulet, the King Family and playing shows like West Side Story, Guys and Dolls and The Music Man.
While playing the Music Circus I met my wife Fay! It was love at first sight and within six months we were married. I continued my music endeavors, and also found employment at a local music store…the best of both worlds. We soon welcomed two daughters into the world, Molly and Missy. I continued my music livelihood, and about ten years later, for some strange reason, I became intrigued with the metal detecting pastime.
From the day I purchased my first metal detector, a White’s CoinMaster, I was hooked. Digging that first old silver coin was the turning point!
As the years wore on I continued detecting, and eventually started writing articles for the various treasure hunting magazines. Back then we had Treasure, Treasure Found, Lost Treasure, Western and Eastern Treasures and World of Treasures. As I continued to write, I began to become more involved in the pastime, and eventually started the Federation of Metal Detector and Archeological Clubs, Inc. (more in clubs link above)
The FMDAC was an organization I was very proud of and in the early days we made a difference for many. Vice-president Harry Bodofsky, secretary Jerry Lenk, treasurer Rosalie Ray and attorney Sam Abramo were without a doubt the most dedicated people I have met within the pastime and I cannot thank them enough for their help, their support and their work ethic as unpaid volunteers. Add to that all the many representatives from the various clubs, who often traveled hundreds of miles to attend our monthly meetings. We had a lot of great people and had a helluva lot of fun. In 1990 we lost Harry and Sam to cancer…..
Because of our hard work and dedication the Federation soon became a nationally recognized force for the metal detecting pastime, and the manufacturers soon became active supporters, helping when they could with financial contributions and merchandise.
In 1987 I accepted an offer from Garrett Electronics to become their director of marketing, moving my family from New Jersey to Texas. A major life altering decision for sure, but one I thought held promise. The folks at Garrett were terrific but I soon found that the business end of the pastime was not for me. As a result I was downsized, relieved of my duties, let go, fired, whatever you care to call it. Having purchased a home in Texas, and having moved my family halfway across the country, I was not a happy camper but eventually realized it was really a new beginning. What was done, was done. I had to move on and I started focusing again on detecting and getting out in the field. Pushing products, features, notions and company directives was never going to be my cup of tea.
Shortly after leaving Garrett I received a phone call from an old friend, Alan Holcombe, marketing manager for White’s Electronics, asking if I was interested in writing a book for them. As Alan explained it, a “Dick and Jane” book. One that would tell the newcomer or novice what to expect and how to succeed in the days ahead. After some thought I agreed and wrote Metal Detecting…The Hobby. I was adamant about using the word hobby because that was really what metal detecting was. Many detectorists liked to call themselves treasure hunters, and while in some respect that was true, the hard reality was we were participants in a hobby, a pastime, an endeavor that was really about getting out in the fresh air and getting involved in local history. Yes we were after treasures, but defining what those treasures were was all in the mind of the participant.
After the book was published I was pleased with its reception. It wasn’t a professional treasure hunter’s tome but a basic book written by a simple guy and a metal detector user. One that reflected the in’s and out’s of the pastime, and that offered a few ideas and recommendations. Metal Detecting…The Hobby did not promise to make you rich and that was factual and honest. Since then I have written three more, Coin Hunting in Depth, Where to Find Treasure, and In Search of Treasure.
I eventually found work in the North Texas area, and my family (we Yankees) somehow settled here in the Lone Star state. I will tell you however it was not easy. After forty some years of living in the Northeast, the South and Texas in particular was something we had to get used to. Today we still long for the Northeast, especially since I still have family there, but realistically speaking we cannot afford to move back. Likewise the detecting here is also quite different. The coin finds are not that old and the soil in the Dallas area is unlike any other I’ve run into.
Today I yearn for all the old haunts in the Northeast, and look forward to visiting there from time to time to reap the rewards it has to offer, but with my home, my children and grandchildren here, I must work hard to find that new lead, that new tip, that tempting old home site on the road to wherever I may be going.
Way back when, I never realized that my life would be so dictated by a pastime. Never thought that it would take me the places it has. Never thought it would have such an impact on my family, but it did and all things considered, it hasn’t been that bad a road. Just a bumpy one with a pothole here and there. I am hoping now that it’s a smooth ride here on out.
At 7pm, December 26, 2015, Fay and I lost our house to a tornado. We are lucky to be alive and very grateful to all the many treasure hunters who helped us start our lives over. Thank you all so very much…