Rookie Corner

by Andy Nunez

Not sure if this column is going to be for Rookies, but I want to take the opportunity to talk about folks that were key to this club's ongoing success. I will probably leave out somebody, but it's only because after 30 years, my memory isn't what it used to be. Please bear with me.

I talked last month about the club origins, and how Milford Webster met Larry Locket and how Larry Locket knew Bill and Doug, and how we all got together to hunt Lewis House and found our first colonial coins and other relics. We thought they were large cents, but they were British half pennies. I didn't get one, which is what spurred me to upgrade to a better detector. I found my oldest coin there, and I think it might be the oldest coin found at Lewis House, but not sure. The date was 1690. It's possible that some of the cobs found at Henry House were older, but that was 25 years ago, and I am lucky to remember who found them.

So, let's go back in time and see some of those folks. You hear me talk about Milford Webster. He was a top researcher and, for a desk jockey, had amazing stamina. He could hunt with the youngest and strongest. It was his research that led us to the Lewis House. He was taken from us in the summer of 1998, way too early, one of the earliest casualties in our club. Clay Sherrill, whose wife Dixie was club secretary for years, was another hard hunter, and it was he and Sonny Willing that found the first cobs at the Henry House. He left us too soon also.

Will Johnston was a strong club supporter, and hunted despite Parkinson's disease. He left us, too, and Larry Locket, who I don't think ever joined, died very young as well. Neither was Kevin Morris, but he did go hunting with us once or twice and he died a few years ago.

Most of this column, though, I want to devote to John Johnson. John was a clever fellow who could come up with all kinds of devices and ideas. He was the first person I ever saw with a Bigfoot coil. He came up with several neat games for our Big Hunts. He was generous with his time and always willing to share his knowledge. He was quiet but there was a strength of character in that quietness that is hard to replicate.

John was not an original member, but he came along in what I call the second group. Bill, Milford, Doug, Tim and myself were there at the start and I think Sonny was either there then or soon after. Clay, Mike Brittingham, Mike Webster, Will Johnston and Hugh Meise were in that second batch. After that, the club took off and members have come and gone over the years. John came along soon after Sonny, and his knowledge of electronics and engineering were awesome. He specialized in converting shovels to saw-toothed pro diggers. At the end, he was still planning a new game for the Big Hunt. Like the rest, he was taken from us much too soon.

He didnít ask what the club could give him. He asked what he could give to the club.

So, farewell, John Johnson. Since I won't see you at the meeting, maybe we'll meet again.

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