|An approximation of Big Chief Demolition's logo, as I remember it|
Mid-20th Century South Florida homes were built of cinder-block (called CBS construction) and were like small military bunkers, low and strong to withstand the violent hurricanes that visited the peninsula every other season. And a common feature was a low-slung planter box filled with dark Florida dirt, about six feet long and maybe four feet high, made of cinder block, and usually attached at right-angles to the wall of the house. The more elaborate ones had copper irrigation piping encircling the interior wall of the planter; you could water your plants by simply turning the spigot.
This was what I came upon while we were searching the yard of a soon to be torn-down house. Kevin was in the yard, down on one knee, digging the tons of wheat pennies, toy cars, and stuff. I passed by the planter wall and casually swung the Deepseeker's 8" co-planer coil over the top as I headed for the yard. A loud signal almost knocked my earphones off my head! I stopped and backed up. Once again, a very loud, almost too loud, target signal screeched from the machine. I ran the coil down the sides of the planter wall and got the same signal. I looked over at Kevin.
"Hey, Kevin, I got one heluva' signal here, man...a real humdinger!" Kevin looked over his shoulder at me. "Is that the planter box?" I nodded my head. Kevin shrugged and said "That's just the copper piping in there...don't bother with it!" He went back to digging the yard. I wandered into the front yard as well, picking up a few coins, a few lead toy cars from the 1930's with the Deepseeker. The planter box stared dolefully at my back, whispering and snickering. I finally couldn't stand it any longer, and headed back to the cinder-block planter. Carefully scanning it from all sides, I was getting somewhat of a target separation...several large targets...and copper pipe would not do that. I looked back at Kevin, who was now swearing loudly (he was a died-in-the-wool Irishman) as he'd somehow managed to almost stick his coin probe thru his hand. He was not happy about it! I yelled back at him. "Kevin, I'm getting a big signal here, and some target separation...copper pipe would not do that, right?" Kevin looked at me, his eyes reddening. "Look, Jim, it's the copper pipe...copper is a major conductor...it will create a huge signal...okay?" He was fanning his sore hand, so I figured, what the heck, I'd dug a few inches into the dirt at the top of the planter and didn't find anything, so it's probably the copper pipes.
The next day, I opened the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel newspaper, with a minor headline blaring (as well as I can remember it) "Demolition Workers Strike Treasure!!!" I stared at the large B&W photo of a bulldozer, parked in a field of glittering silver coins, with construction workers filling up their hard-hats with specie. I read the article, the gist of which was that bulldozer "A" demolished the cinder-block planter "B" which contained six large mason jars filled with Morgan dollars which were blown all over the site "C" and were being scooped up by the happy workers "D," which was D for dammit!!! I called Kevin and asked if he had seen the news about the silver dollar finds on the demolition site. He said he had. I asked him if he had anything to say to me at all. He was quiet for a second, then said "It sure looks like they were not copper pipes after all, aye?" First rule of cache hunting...check the target and never take the signal for granted...especially big targets. If I'd gone down a crummy six-inches deeper, I would have hit the top of the Morgan dollar cache. It's been 33-years and I still get angry with myself for not checking it. Don't make the same mistake.
Note: My good friend, and treasure hunting partner, Kevin Reilly passed away in 2012 from cancer, forever leaving a hole that can never be filled in the metal detecting community. Rest in peace my friend.
By the way, this subject was suggested to me by my friend and fellow blogger, Dick Stout and his fantastic metal detecting blog, Stout Standards. Visit him at https://stoutstandards.wordpress.com/