By Debra Moore
Sue Harlan took off her turquoise ring 47 years ago and never saw it again — that is until this past weekend. That’s when two guys with metal detectors and a penchant for finding treasures found it.
Dave Loschiavo of Cromberg and his friend, Derek Shetterly of Ashland, Oregon, have gone metal detecting together often, but the pandemic and Dave’s three-year foray in New Zealand limited their opportunities. When Dave saw a social media post about Sue Harlan’s move from her Spring Garden home to Quincy, he was intrigued.
For a long while he had his eye on a home in the Spring Garden area, thinking that interesting items could be unearthed there. Ultimately, he determined that it wasn’t Sue Harlan’s house, but he went forward with the effort after contacting her. Then he enlisted the help of his friend Derek, who agreed to visit over Memorial Day weekend.
“I was signed up to ride in a cycling event, but he emailed me about this property and I hadn’t seen Dave in several years so I came down,” Derek said.
The pair met Sue on her property and she showed them around. Then she returned to Quincy while they worked from about 10 in the morning until 3 p.m. on her land.
When asked how they go about searching a property, Derek said that they think about where activities might have occurred and establish a sort of grid pattern — working from opposite ends so they are able to hear their detectors better. For example, in this case one took the southwest corner while the other began on the northwest. “We are pretty thorough,” he said of their work.
As the detectors are moved across the soil, they emit various sounds, which must be deciphered. Is this a place where it might make sense to dig? Is there a treasure to be found? They are primarily interested in detecting gold and silver. When they do dig, they pull up a cylinder of dirt so that it is easy to plug back in and minimize the impact on the landscape.
During their exploration on Sue’s property they found a silver dime from the 1950s, a few pennies from that same decade, and a 1933 coin from Hong Kong. And then there was the ring — silver with turquoise.
When asked if they keep what they find, Dave said that it varies from site to site and what arrangements have been made — but anything with sentimental value he tries to return to the owner. Such was the case when the pair found a set of dog tags from World War I on a Loyalton property. Turns out they belonged to the uncle of the current owner.
When Derek found the ring, Dave contacted Sue Harlan to see if it belonged to her. At first she didn’t remember it, but then the memories came flooding back from nearly 50 years prior. Her husband, Joe Harlan, had purchased some turquoise and silver jewelry from a former student who had moved to Arizona. (Harlan was a long-time Quincy High School teacher. He died on May 31, 2022, which precipitated Sue’s move away from their Spring Garden home.)
Sue remembers the last time she wore the ring — it was when they were remodeling their kitchen. “I set it down and we were in the middle of construction,” she said. When she couldn’t find it, she and Joe assumed that it was accidentally thrown away with the debris. She recalled Joe saying, “I swept it up … it’s gone now.”
The ring was found about 6 inches underground near the lawn area. “They were really excited about it,” Sue said. “They could have kept it, but they called me.”
Sue was happy to have the ring back, just a couple days before the anniversary of her husband’s death. But it wasn’t the only interesting find this past weekend. “Weirdly I was outside yesterday (May 29) using my husband’s boots to do some planting. As I was digging, I pulled out a little fork, and it had an “H” etched on the handle.”
First the ring that had been missing for 47 years, and then Joe’s initial for his last name
… Sue said she couldn’t help but feel her husband was still with her.