To Feel The Treasure
By: Mike Walker
Photos By: Ron Jenner
Most of us who look for treasure with a metal detector hear our targets. We swing our coil over the ground until we hear that familiar Beep! It's a sound that can literally bring us to our knees, digging for our next prize! So, I guess it would be safe to say that most of us hear our treasure first, before we feel it. This story is about those who feel it first.
A little over a year ago a fellow club member, Ron Jenner, invited three hearing-impaired men to our monthly club meeting. Of course, everyone welcomed them, just as we do all visitors to our club. Right away people were able to talk with them by writing on a note pad, or by signing the best we knew how. The next thing we knew, Steve Jellison, Rick Burch, and John Wise were regulars at the South Western Michigan Seek & Search club meetings.
At one of our next meetings we had a student sign language interpreter, and after that the meetings became much more informative for them. Since then we have had an interpreter at every meeting. The interpreter stands in front and shares every detail with our hearing impaired friends, about all that is being said. The rest of us benefit from the interpreters by being able to talk to our new friends. Now when one of them wins the Find of the Month contest, he can get up in front of the group and share the story of his find, while the interpreter tells everyone else what he is saying.
Occasionally our club has a fellowship hunt, where we all meet to search for treasure. Like all of us who love this great hobby, they're eager to get out and swing a coil. In fact, Steve, Rich, and John attended all of the hunts, including the two seeded hunts that our club has in the spring and the fall.
I could sometimes see their frustration at having to watch their detectors to see what it was saying. Imagine not having anything to listen to on your detector! However, thanks to a clever manufacturer, there is now a device called the Vibra-Phone. This little gizmo attaches to the shaft of the detector and gives off a vibration when going over a target. This improvement has been a valuable tool for my three fellow club members. They now feel the treasure first. I am told that they can even tell the difference between the junk and the keepers, just as you and I do with our ears. Best of all, they have a newfound enjoyment for this hobby, as evidence by their stories and their finds!
Recently, I signed up to go to the 2002 FMDAC Treasure Weekend & Convention in Ohio. Not long after that, I found out that Steve, Rich, and John also wanted to go. Ron thought it would be great to have interpreters there to help the guys so that they would be able to understand what everyone else heard. Then we found out that there are other hearing-impaired FMDAC members, including a chapter vice president, Walter Genther, and his lovely wife, Joan, who would also benefit. Unfortunately, the next thing we learned is that professional interpreters can be expensive.
It didn't take long to see what great people we have in our detecting community. Right away money was donated by the club members at our next club meeting, and soon a brand new White's MXT was on its way to be donated as a raffle prize from White's Electronics' general sales manager, Alan Holcomb. After an email to the FMDAC, there was a post on their website to see if anyone wanted to donate to the cause. Next there was a silver bar to be raffled off at the convention, donated by Jill McFeeders and her Silver Seekers Club. Then all the FMDAC chapters weighed in with donations. All said and done, there was not only enough money raised to pay for the professional interpreters, but any left over would be designated for the same services next year.
I would like to thank all the student interpreter volunteers who went along- Hope Kooyers, Cody Bailey, Troy Goodrich, and Brenda Cuddeback- from the Sign Language Department at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan. We are indeed fortunate to have the support of our local community college. Through the interpreters, the guys were able to enjoy the banquet, and the seminars where they could ask questions and get answers. They even got to meet and talk with Ed Fedory, relic hunter extraordinaire, and FMDAC president Betty Weeks, along with many other special people.
The students were an absolute blessing to the hearing-impaired members all weekend! Thank you, Ron, for lining it all up and for taking pictures. Also, thank you, Jack Short, for taking pictures at our local club events. And thanks to all the others who donated in any way, shape, or form!
I knew by their faces that Steve, Rick, and John had a great time. We all found silver, and most of us found tokens that were good for prizes. But most of all we found a special group of people to have a great time with. So, the next time you hear that sweet tone in your earphones, take a moment to think how it would be "To Feel the Treasure" before you see it.
MIKE WALKER, 35, has been metal detecting for five years. He operates his own lawn care & landscaping business in Vicksburg, Michigan, is an active board member of the SWMS&S club, and organizes youth events at club hunts. He and his wife, Tamara, have four children- three of whom have their own detectors.
Other contributors to this article were Ron Jenner, Kathie La Roy, Jack Sharp, Roger Post and Ernie Lawson.