Around Broadneck: Dirt Fisherman digs up a 'treasure' and a mystery [Capital (Annapolis, MD)]
(Capital (Annapolis, MD) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) You can't miss Roy Wood when he's pursuing his beloved hobby: dirt fishing. Although better known as treasure hunting, dirt fishing is quite apt.
He pulls on a gnarly old Redskins knit cap. Over that he places a set of black headphones. A pair of black kneepads cover his knees and his hands are protected with gloves. The work belt around his waist holds a hand towel and all sorts of gizmos. Roy carries a shovel with a small, sharp blade and a metal detector with a GPS.
When the former police officer takes a break from his IT consulting business, he heads to one of the local parks, a farm, or the beaches of Virginia Beach or Ocean City. Hobbyists with metal detectors can visit the beach of Sandy Point State Parks early weekend mornings during the summer season, but they are not allowed at other state parks.
"Amateurs dig holes and leave them," he said, shaking his head. "Hobbyists are more careful. They dig a plug and carefully put it back. If they are on private property, they ask permission to hunt."
His metal detector gives off different distinctive sounds that provide Roy an indication of the size, depth and metal content of a buried object. A tiny wadded piece of tin foil, for instance, produces a ping similar to a valuable ring.
Over the years, he's found lots of "clad" -- modern coins dating from 1964 when the U.S. mint ceased using real silver and began issuing nickel-clad copper coins. Since 1982, newly minted pennies are copper-plated zinc. His trove of treasures includes pre-1964 coins, wheat pennies from the 1940s and 1950s, silver dimes, and lots and lots of soda can pull tabs. "I'm not gonna retire off that stuff," he said. "A 1920 dime might be worth $2 today."
The rare times Roy has unearthed a gold ring -- he calls it "the Holy Grail" -- he looks for an inscription so he can identify the owner and return the ring. He's found several silver or gold rings, usually about 5 to 6 inches below the surface. Roy estimates they were lost in the mid-20th century.
"Gold and silver sinks faster than other metals,'' he said. ''I also look at the age and depth of other items I find nearby."
A resident of Cape St. Claire for 30 years, he occasionally canvasses the community's main beach on the Chesapeake Bay.
"I pick something up and wonder what the story was behind it," Roy said. Buried under an old scrub pine tree he found a worn iron horseshoe with a nail still in it.
Recently, as he was about to leave the beach, his metal detector gave off a distinct ping. "The instrument measures conductivity and iron content. It sounded like silver, though aluminum can sound like silver or gold, too," Roy said.
He swiftly dug a small divot with his shovel. Placing his towel on the ground next to the hole, he turned the divot over onto the cloth and probed it with a small, rod-shaped metal detector. He pulled an old aluminum token out of the loamy dirt.
At its center, Gwynn Oak Park is spelled out in raised letters. Around the outer edge it reads, "SALVATORE LOVES CATHIE JAN 8 1953."
Gwynn Oak Park was an amusement park featuring, among other attractions, three roller coasters. Located just northwest of Baltimore, it closed after Hurricane Agnes flooded the park in 1972. Its carousel is still in use -- on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., near the Smithsonian "castle."
"The token was made on a machine manufactured by Standard Metal Typer and was popular at amusement parks in the late 1940s through 1960s," he said, "You still see similar penny typers at highway rest stations."
"Someone was wearing it on a chain when it broke off," Roy pointed out. "I wondered if I could find the owner, or the owner's family." He speculates it was a couple of lovebirds who graduated from an Atlantic City high school in 1953.
He's since posted a photograph of the broken token on the "I Live in Cape St. Claire" Facebook page. If a reader has a clue to the identity of the couple, Salvatore and Cathie, send an email to BroadneckNews@wintesgeimer.com.
With his wife, Dr. Debbie Wood, director of the Chesapeake Children's Museum, Roy is the parent of four: Jamie, 33; Mandy, 30; and Catherine, 24, live within an hour's drive. The Woods are guardians of Thomas, 15, a student at Magothy River Middle School, who has Down syndrome.
"We've been his guardians since his mother passed away two years ago," said Roy. When school is not in session, Thomas and Roy are usually dirt fishing together. "He's my buddy," Roy said, smiling.
St. Pat's dinner
If the bar scene on the eve of St. Patrick's Day isn't your cup of Bud Lite, consider heading to a gathering of grownups at St. Andrew by the Bay Church Parish Center on College Parkway at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Knights of Columbus Council 11552 is hosting an Irish dinner prepared by chef Tom Scalley, consisting of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. Included are salad, traditional Irish soda bread, plus cake and cupcake desserts. Admission is $25 per person, or by advance reservation $175 for a table of eight. Included in the price, Bud Lite and Harp beer will be on tap as will a variety of wines. Irish coffee is a wee bit extra. There will be a live DJ, dancing and door prizes.
Proceeds help fund scholarships for students at the church's Bay Preschool, plus a second charity selected by the church council. For reservations or information, contact Larry at 410-757-3263 or LSouth@Circleri.com.
Join with members of 13 area churches and others for the 14th anniversary of the Way of the Cross at Atria Manresa, 185 Manresa Drive on the Broadneck Peninsula, at 11:30 a.m. March 29.
Participants will walk the Stations of the Cross, which are placed overlooking the Severn River. Dr. Jim Ballard, of St. Philip's Episcopal, will begin performing at 11:40, before the Good Friday Ecumenical service begins. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes.
For more information, call Jim Knorr at 410-757-4549.
Cheer on one of five teams from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 4 at the 2nd Annual Anne Arundel Community College Truck Pull as the teams compete to pull an empty delivery truck over a closed course in the fastest time.
Come for the pull, stay for the prizes and information about job, career and educational opportunities in the transportation, logistics and supply chain industries. Admission is free. The event will be held on Parking Lot C of the Arnold campus. It is sponsored by AACC's Business Management and Entrepreneurial Studies departments and the Transportation, Logistics and Cargo Security program.
For more information or to register for one of the teams, visit www.aacc.edu/business/TLCS_Events.cfm.
If you have news or story ideas, send an email to BroadneckNews@wintersgeimer.com.
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