Buried Treasure Provides Gilt-y Pleasures

Wendy Miller is editor of Calendar Weekend's Ventura Edition

We were 6 or 7 years old when my two friends and I decided to bury our most treasured items in the rectangle of earth near the front door. I gathered up my ceramic bud vase, with pink flowers on a shiny white background; my best ring, the adjustable one with beautiful stones, probably diamonds and rubies and those bright blue jewels that must have been sapphires; and the necklace with the tiny Delft clog, which my grandmother had brought me from her home in Holland.

My valuables went into a shoe box along with the precious items of my friends. Then, after an elaborate ritual--which, as I recall, included tearful eulogies over the beloved items, incantations meant to ensure their safety, vows of secrecy, promises to leave the remains undisturbed and mutual assertions of profound and everlasting friendship--we dug a hole in the earth and buried the shoe box.

Three weeks later, it rained, and since a drainpipe was strategically placed directly above our patch of earth, the whole area flooded. In a panic, I dug and dug trying to save our treasure. But the box was gone.

I never found out what happened. Perhaps a bewildered gardener, in the process of planting begonias, uncovered a dirty shoe box filled with junk and tossed it in the garbage. Or an irate parent discovered that an item of genuine value had disappeared and demanded its return. Then again, maybe that jeweled ring was just too much of a temptation for one of my pals. But that idea was absolutely unthinkable at the time. So I found a more acceptable way to ease the pain of loss: I cried bitter tears and secretly blamed it on my baby brother.

If it happened today, I might consider calling a member of the Gold Coast Treasure Hunters, the subject of today's Centerpiece package, written by Sondra Farrell Bazrod. (page 48). The group meets each month to show off the articles they have found in parks and on beaches up and down the "gold coast," from Malibu to San Luis Obispo. "I wasn't surprised to find people who hunt for valuables. After all, we have all seen them with their metal detectors at the beach," said Farrell Bazrod. "What amazed me was the time and trouble they take to return items to their rightful owners."

I better get their number. I'd like to get back that adjustable ring with the blue jewels.

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