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tough guy poetry and manly stories of loneliness
all contents copyright Jon Rolston 2004, 2005, 2006

August 26, 2007

like father like son?

Metal detecting, like most things, gets more complicated as you study it. There are factions, divisions, camps , schools of thought. I got into the sport through my father, who has always had a metal detector. So, like father like son, I also own a metal detector.

Can we agree on anything? No. He is a coin shooter, I am a relic hunter. From the outside looking in, we are the same. We could stand in a parking lot with our detectors in hand, earphones plugged in, digging tool strapped to our waist, bug spray applied, empty treasure bag ready to receive our finds, but the truth is, we can’t be further apart. He has his machine set to a shallow depth, he refines his detector to discriminate against iron. My father is going to the beach to look for common coins, pocket change, perhaps a mid-century silver quarter or half dollar, and jewelry. A broken charm bracelet or silver toe rings, gold wedding bands that slip off shriveled swim fingers.

I have my machine set for relics, any type of metal, deep in the earth. A foot or more down. I’m looking to find a puritan’s blunderbuss, a colonist’s shoe buckle, a silver goblet stuffed with Viking loot. So we argue in the car about where we’ll go. We’ve been known to cut holes in the bottom of treasure pouches so all the other guys finds fall back on the ground. Putting battery packs in backwards is another great way to spoil your dad’s trip. Or calling the police on your son for trespassing. That turns an afternoon out into a very costly hobby.

But he’s my dad, and I’m his son. We still love each other.


  1. Do metal detectors work in water? My wife lost her engagement ring in a lake 5 years ago. The water is only about 3 feet deep where she lost it. I could see spending a day trying to find it.

    Comment by Lyle_s — August 26, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

  2. yes, they do work under water. you can try to find a local metal detector club in the area and call them. I’m sure somebody will come take a look, maybe for a small fee. But if it’s a popular spot for swimming, there’s a good chance it’s already been found by someone with a detector. still, it is worth looking into.

    Comment by JimR — August 26, 2007 @ 5:15 pm

  3. Thanks, Jim. Since, according to the story, you’re one to tune the device to detect/ignore specific metals, do you know if it can be tuned to focus on platinum?

    Comment by Lyle_s — August 26, 2007 @ 7:30 pm

  4. I never knew you could ignore certain metals. I have one, but it’s a low-end model from when I was much younger – I really want one of those detectors that can tell you the shape of the object it is detecting.

    Comment by Ian Rolston — August 29, 2007 @ 6:40 pm

  5. who is Ian Rolston? I’ve heard of Jim and Jon and Mrs. Rolston but who’s Ian?

    Comment by almost 5yrs — August 30, 2007 @ 8:52 am

  6. I am Jim’s brother’s (also John Rolston) grandson.

    Comment by Ian Rolston — August 30, 2007 @ 11:43 am

  7. I guess it is easier to say that Jim is my Great-uncle. I don’t know what that makes this John Rolston in relation to me.

    Comment by Ian Rolston — August 30, 2007 @ 11:44 am

  8. I have never met you Ian, I dont think. My dad and John are half brothers and my name is Jon, no “h”, as you can see. Your part of the family lives in Ohio, not New Hampshire, so we only see each other every five years or so.

    How old are you Ian?

    Comment by Rolston — August 31, 2007 @ 7:13 am

  9. and Lyle, my dad says you can rent a metal detector, and that you can place a similar ring under it and see what numbers it gives for a reading, then you’ll know if you are picking up platinum or not.

    Comment by Rolston — August 31, 2007 @ 7:15 am

  10. Oops, sorry about the mixup Jon. I’ve met your father a few times, and I remember you coming over to Ohio a couple years ago, but I wasn’t able to get over there to say hi, so I’ve never met you. I’m 16, by the way.

    Comment by IanR — August 31, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

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