In the first part of metal detecting research techniques, we discussed the “things” that we should all be using. Historical maps, photos and books need to be a part of our research arsenal to give us the cutting-edge advantage and provide an abundance of new metal detecting sites. In this section of research, we are going to talk about the people who can make a huge difference in our metal detecting success and enrich our lives as well. Here is where POP comes in. Not your dad or other father figures, but PATIENCE, OBSERVATION, and PERSISTENCE.
Research is work but can be fun too. The value of establishing relationships with people who have lived in a community for many years takes patience. I have spent many hours in developing friendships with the men and women of Tarpon Springs, FL. This beautiful community was settled around 1860, and became a city in 1888. Observing the habits, traits and customs of the various subcultures in Tarpon Springs has made it much easier to make friends. You have heard it said that when in Rome do as the Romans. The largest subculture here is Greek. I love this populace. Strong central families, proud of their heritage and faith, fun-loving and adventuresome are a few traits that stand out with our Greeks.
They came here in 1905 and brought the sponge-diving industry with them. They had to make adjustments like all subcultures and this sometimes leads to distrust of those outside their culture. In making friends in most subcultures, patience and observation must be accompanied by persistence. Keep on keeping on to establish trust and build a relationship with the elders of the various subcultures. POP is essential! I use it in many ways in my metal detecting research. When working with a potential good metal detecting site, patience, observation and persistence in checking out changes that are taking place there can open up a better window of opportunity. An elementary school site closed and a high school is going to build a culinary arts facility there. I have permission from a school administrator to hunt the site now and, then also. I go by there a few times every week, just to see what is happening. I did this with another school site and reaped a large number of deeply buried silver coins that would not have been found without POP. Take the time to get to know the “historical” people of your city or town.
Many metal detector hobbyist waste a lot of time and money driving around to other communities looking for new sites to treasure hunt. I am convinced that this “grass is greener” philosophy is counter productive. There are many senior adults in your community who have a great deal of information about how things were back in the “good old days” and they are happy to share this info. They are the people of history who can provide you with with an understanding of how things happened in your town or city 40 to 90 years ago. Making friends with these individuals pays great metal detecting dividends. This led me to develop what I have termed as the “Home Town Advantage”. Get to know the senior citizens who are native to your community and you will have the home town advantage and should never need to roam around looking for detecting sites.
The first of these historical figures is the writers in your community. Robert wrote the first history of Tarpon Springs in 1948. It is a colorful dialog of people and places during the early 1900's. I got so much from his book and so much more from this dimunitve five-feet tall giant. He made me love the history of the sponge-diving capital of the world. I found thousands of coins from what he shared in person and in writing. He lived to be 99 and at 92 took me into a wilderness area and showed me where a ghost town was really located, when all attempts to locate it from the directions in a renowned Florida ghost town book failed. In recent years two very comprehensive books on the history of Tarpon Springs have been published. Great well written books, but as my grandson BJ would say, not the same as the “old-timer”.
A second important historical group is the retired business owners. Their involvement in the day to day commerce and business affairs will assist you in numerous ways. Knowing the location and types of businesses that were prominent years ago can provide site locations, traffic patterns and knowledge of events that significantly impacted the community's economic development. John was an officer of the Bank of Commerce of Tarpon Springs from its inception in 1918, to its collapse in the Great Depression in 1929. Our friendship led to my first significant cache find, consisting of 45 very rare uncirculated tokens given to potential customers in 1918. This token today is worth about $400 in pristine condition. John told me where he buried them, gave permission to go on his property and locate them, and let me keep all 45. Nick Kavouklis, renowned Greek businessman, shared stories that gave me many new sites to check out. Some of my oldest and best pre 1900 silver finds came from our friendship.
The third historical group that can benefit your research is the athletes. Outside of schoolyards, my biggest volume and value sites have been stadiums and ball fields. Getting to know the proud athletes of past decades provides locations of sports training, practice and playing areas that no longer exist. It is easy to get to know them. Go to high school and college games in your community and they standout. Most are very proud of their accomplishments in sports and will open up many sites to hunt. I learned from a retired baseball coach that he played professional ball back in the 30's and he described an area where this team came and practiced in Tarpon in the late winter and early spring. The site has huge foundation stones lining the street entrance and they were the bleacher foundations for that practice facility. I made some super depression era coin finds there including several low mintage key coins of the early 30's. One stadium that I have permission to hunt on an on-going basis has led to over 30,000 coins and 30 gold rings. I love those athletic connects.
There are several other older-generation retirees that can make your research profitable and fun. Here are a few more historical people groups and the type of sites they deliver. Retired educators/school sites, real estates agents/all types, construction workers/commercial and residential sites, service club members (Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.)/many types, and newspaper editors & writers/wide variety.
You can make history or just be history! Living in the same community for more than forty years gives me a great privilege. A privilege of sharing what I have learned from the important “historical figures” and yes becoming one of them. This is why I have written this small blurb on metal detecting research. Having found over 150,000 coins with metal detectors and 85% of them coming from Tarpon Springs makes me an expert in this my “hometown”. It delights me to share info that can apply to your research in your community.