Making Friends with Metal Detectors

  • April 6, 2016
me and tess

Tessie and I circa nineteen-ninety-something.

Last week, my cousin wrote about the bond she shares with her digging partner (husband). After reading her post, I started thinking about the bonds I’ve made with both digging partners and property owners alike. If you’re a regular follower of this blog or happen to watch my videos, you’ve probably realized that I have a lot of digging partners. There’s Roman, Bill, Mike, Duane, Ed, Ciara, Don, Brandon, and Aaron… to name a few. For a few weeks last year, I even dragged my husband and kids along on my adventures. In all honesty, I’m not all that picky about who I’m digging with as long as we’re having fun. On occasion, I’ll even dig alone… with my nine millimeter… given that incident with the  shirtless man and his dog.

As I’m sure Tessie (my cousin) can attest, one of the best parts about the metal detecting hobby is the community that comes with picking up your first detector. Once you get plugged into the facebook groups and local clubs, you start meeting like-minded people who share your passion for recovering history. The pool of potential digging partners continues to grow and grow, until you reach a point where you might as well start accepting applications. Personally, I’ll dig with just about anyone. I never really considered this as digging infidelity, but most of my digging partners are the strong and silent type… Maybe my unfaithfulness is cause for concern?

Regardless of who I’m digging with, we certainly cultivate a special bond. I consider my digging partners as friends. They get me… my compulsion to play in the dirt, to scour old maps, and scribble down addresses as I drive by old homes. They never question the dirt on my knees, the red-polish chipping off my fingernails, or that crazed look I get when I haven’t gone digging in a whole week. Aside from friends who dig with me on a regular basis, I’ve made friends across the country and even across the world. (Except for those people who try to talk to me in Arabic… we still haven’t conquered that language barrier.) I’ve made a lot of friends in this hobby–both metal detecting and bottle digging–but strangely enough, this hobby has even given me friends outside the hobby.

I’m talking about property owners… the ones who don’t chase you off their lawns with a shotgun… or improvised weapon such as a rake or garden hose. These are the property owners who–despite their first impressions of you… er me… as some crazy lady covered in mud, with foliage clinging in her teased hair, and horribly manicured talons–still allows me a chance to explain myself. Then, after I’ve explained myself and expressed my deep-seated interest in digging holes in their yard (with the promise to fill them back in), they still haven’t reached for the rake or garden hose… (All things considering, maybe I’m not the crazy one?) These are the property owners who become close friends.

12728839_1147665985246558_7365103671374253826_nIf you follow my blog, you probably recall my friend Sue. She owns the schoolhouse property where I dug a piece of pewter spoon with my Makro Racer. Since approaching Sue for permission to dig around her schoolhouse, we have become close friends. Her and I get together every week to scour antique shops and search for resellables. I consider her one of my best friends and even though Sue is not inclined to dig for metal bobbles in the ground, she gets my compulsion to dig in the dirt and accepts that I’m a little bit off-kilter…. maybe a lot off-kilter. Regardless of the degree, Sue gets me.

From what I understand, Sue is a rare friend. Outside of the digging community, I have a hard time connecting with people. (Let’s face it, I have a hard time connecting with people in general…) When I mention the six metal detectors in my garage and the privy probe in my trunk, people tend to get a twitch in their eyebrow and a glazed look in their eyes. Granted, I’m setting myself up for failure as soon as I mention privy digging… apparently the subject of shit-houses is taboo among most circles… er, all circles besides the digging circles.

I’ll leave you with this… Tessie–my cousin–was right about digging partners. Its important to connect with others in the hobby, but even more important to connect with people who accept you for being a little off-kilter… and have no problem meeting you out in public after you’ve sat in a mud puddle to dig a slammin’ hit… that turned out to be a pull-tab…

12 Comments on Making Friends with Metal Detectors

  • Sue says:
    April 6, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    I do not ordinarily comment on these posts – I just read and enjoy. But this one demands a response. I can think of several expressions I might use to describe Jocelyn, but “off-kilter” – even a little bit – is not among them. Rather she is one of the myriad faces of the multi-faceted gem that is Antiquarianism.

    I have known many Antiquarians in my time – and they come in all sizes and shapes. Small boys digging old marbles out of the dirt behind their schools and fantasizing about a young Al Capone or Joe DiMaggio playing with them. The elderly man in Terre Haute, Indiana who stopped me on my way to the grocery store to show me the street corner where Eugene V. Debs was born. He handed me a stone he had picked up from the site; I still have it. And Jocelyn, with her hi-tech metal detectors and cellphone GPS, researching Confederate troop movements to find long-forgotten Civil War encampments. And each in their own way is a keeper of our history.

    I know Jocelyn gets a lot of ribbing for the insignificance of her finds – a spoon, a bottle, a few buttons – but these are the stuff of daily life, and they tell us more about the times whence they came than a whole basketful of Alfred Jewels.* She found one of the shutter dogs from my schoolhouse, along with a bit of metal that allowed us to locate one of the original desks. And in turn, these two little bits of metal speak volumes on everything from the value the county purchasing agents placed on creating pleasant schools for their children to the pride the workers took in their craftsmanship.

    So no, I do not find any part of Jocelyn and her hobby “off-kilter.” It may not be the sort of thing I see myself doing on a regular basis, but every once in a while it’s fun to dig in the dirt with a friend – especially when you have the chance of discovering a marble Al Capone might have played with.


    *This is a reference to Detectorists – if you haven’t yet watched it, do so. You won’t be sorry.


  • Dominique says:
    April 6, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    As always, a very enjoyable read. And I don’t think you’re off kilter! Well, maybe a little. But so am I. As long as the earth remains on its axis, we should be just fine…


  • Peter Schichtel says:
    April 6, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    I only just started to read your blog. I’m becoming very impressed by the way ,as someone who is some – what new to the field , you seemed to have been able to get a incredible grasp on and put into words so many of the complicated sentiments / idiosyncrasies of our chosen path. Keep it coming – we’re enjoying it.


  • Glenn says:
    April 6, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks for another fine read J.


  • Peter Schichtel says:
    April 6, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    I continue to be impressed at the skill you display in conveying the sentiments and reflections of a seasoned digger. As you so well described, you are some-what new at this craft but your writing brings us / me back to.and in touch with thoughts that have become lost in a thousand holes and and misplaced over time with a hundred lost Indian Heads. I think I’m not alone when I say it’s enjoyable.


  • Peter Schichtel says:
    April 6, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Sorry to repeat myself but I didn’t think my previous post was published.


    • Jocelyn Elizabeth says:
      April 6, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      It just meant I got a second smile. Thanks, Peter. :]


  • Tessie says:
    April 6, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    I like your outlook on thinks Joc, as long as you are doing what you love, then that makes life even sweeter! Thanks for having this great avenue for digging folks to connect 😉


    • Jocelyn Elizabeth says:
      April 6, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      🙂 Thanks, Tessie. And I’m sorry for sharing such an incriminating photo from our youth… but I just had to.


  • Cindy Sheesley says:
    April 7, 2016 at 7:17 am

    Joce,, I enjoyed that writing,, I love looking through your pictures I enjoy the smiles ,the craziness, the unexpected things that you have captured on video that has happened to you while you are digging, as a young girl about 11 or 12 I would tromp through the woods (60’s) and it started out as an escape ,but then I found that families over the years would take their cans bottles and things they could not burn and dump it in deep in the woods and after years and years there were some pretty interesting things I would take this walk as many times as I could I usually always came home with my pockets full of something blue bottles and broken pieces blue and white plates now I know now it was probably blue willow , I really enjoyed it the dumps were usually deep in the woods where I was all alone except for the tall trees and a few squirrels ,so as you do you dump and privy diggin which I have never done ,but sometime would like to , your videos and photos show the happiness that this hobby brings to you by the smiles on your face ,it also takes me back to a time in my past that brought me happiness, .Keep Diggin and never lose the spirit the smile and love of writing.


  • Sam Panzarella says:
    May 27, 2016 at 5:32 am

    hey if you travel and are close bym come to Chattanooga, I can but you on so much Civil war sites, MY Front yard and the whole development was a Battle area and we are within25 miles of so much not just civil war, amd make sure you bring daughter so you guys can visit Lake Winnie one of the oldest amusement Parks, and its also on old balle grounds


  • Dave or THing4CSA says:
    July 23, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks for the amusing read! I have been a solo Treasure Hunter (TH’er) as well as a part of a group of TH’ers from 2 to 6 at a time. I must say it is always nicer to have company with you when you are out digging! I have had to have my TH’ing buddy drive me home after a day of digging and getting ill at the end of the day. It is also so nice to have someone to compare finds with and not have to compete with finds. I have had to shed a few of my ‘Friends’ when they changed to being competitive as that is not what the hobby is about to me. Having someone with you helps keep everyone safe and if you share a hot spot more items are able to be found. Thanks for sharing with us all! 😉


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