What 'treasure' means to the Gateway Treasure Hunters

By Zarrin Tasnim Ahmed | Jun 02, 2017
Courtesy of: Tom Smith Smith and others regularly post their finds on the group's Facebook page. Because of the numerous cars he finds on his hunt, Smith jokes that he owns  'Bernie Glock's Used Car Lot' and celebrates new additions. He often gives away the toy cars he finds to children while treasure hunting on the beach.

In 1972, Tom Smith, of Wareham's Gateway Treasure Hunters Club, had checked out of service in the army and visited a friend near his home in Brooklyn.

“I went over and when I was there, we were talking about different things, and he brings out this... buzzbar,” he said. “It was a 'B frequency oscillator' and all it had was a tone on it.”

They went out treasure hunting, using screwdrivers, ice picks and other digging tools. On his second try, Smith found two gold coins. They were small, but Smith was smitten with the hunt.

“That was it. I not only had the hook in my mouth, but I swallowed the sinker,” he said.

He spent the next three weeks convincing his wife that he needed treasure hunting equipment and hasn't stopped ever since.

“Coin shooters” are the people who pick up loose change from purses and pockets with metal detectors and although they're welcome at the Gateway Treasure Hunters Club, those like Smith, president of the club, have their sights set on greater finds.

That doesn't necessarily mean buried riches, and Smith said if you're trying to get rich, treasure hunting is not the way to do it.

“The riches are the knowledge you gain,” he said.

For him and others in the group, they do it for the love of searching and finding connections to the past.

“You have that five minutes when you go back in time and try to picture where you are,” said Smith. “The treasure part of it is – what have I found here?”

It takes significant research. First, research into properties and their owners. Then, the history and historical use of the property. Finally, permission must be sought.

“I don't come up there with all my equipment like a monster from the deep,” he said, adding that “it's a lot of work and a lot of time.”

The hunters dig carefully and precisely. It's rare that the group of treasure hunters will go together on private property, but public places like beaches and parks are fair game.

The organization “has seen its changes” in the two decades that it's been around, said Smith, and in that time there have been changes in leadership and the organization itself.

The hunters stick to a code of ethics while hunting, so there are rules and regulations. For example, no hunt is paid for if requested.

Recently, the group was asked for help in finding a ring.

It belonged to a 90-year-old veteran who was drafted when he was 17. He'd bought the ring after he got out of the service.

A group of hunters got their gear on and within 15 minutes found the ring among brush.

“His reaction was priceless,” said Smith. “You couldn't wipe the smile off his face.”

It's moments like these that add to the value of treasure hunting, said Smith.

But mostly, it's just an activity for people who share the same interests in history, searching and collecting, and most of the members of the club are senior citizens.

Anyone can join the club and all are welcomed to join a meeting and become a member. Visit their website on www.gthclub.com or join them on their Facebook site.

Smith sends out monthly newsletters with hunting tips and hunting stories.

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