Frank Halfpenny had been poor most of his life. Every day he drove an old beat up 1971 Ford Dart to work at a thrift store five days a week, eight hours a day, earning just enough to squeak by monetarily. Frank lived in a rundown old trailer and could only afford what he could buy at the local Dollar Tree Store.
At work, Frank collected cheap forms of entertainment, mainly VHS tapes. His kind manager knew he was poor and let him have or borrow what he needed. Frank collected all the movies he could watch on his VHS machine that had been running smoothly for at least ten years.
One day, Frank brought home several VHS tapes to watch. When he slipped one of the tapes into the VHS player and clicked “Play” he saw an elderly man digging a hole next to a young magnolia sapling on a green hill with scattered trees. The tape continued to play showing the man continuing to dig for roughly 30 minutes. When the man stopped digging, he appeared exhausted, trying to catch his breath. He put down his shovel and slowly walked out of the scene. Five minutes later, the old man returned, carrying a medium-sized plastic box.
Then he walked up to the camera and opened its contents. Frank marveled when shiny silver and gold coins appeared upright in the box. “My name is ‘Burt McCoy’ in the woods here in Savannah, Georgia. This is my rare coin collection inside this container that I began when I was in my 40’s. Now, I’m going to bury it, because they’ll be here in an hour.” He paused and continued, “If anybody finds this tape, I give you permission to search for my collection that I’m about to bury. These include old gold and silver coins in the best conditions.”
Wondering why he was burying the coins, Frank thought who were “they”? As he watched the remainder of the video, he witnessed Burt burying his coins and filling in the hole. Then, McCoy walked back to the camera and said, “I live on… ” Suddenly, the distant sound of screeching of car wheels and humming made by trucks with maximum horsepower racing into his driveway made McCoy look to his right and he panicked. “Oh no! They’re here for me. I need to go now and hide!”
McCoy quickly walked to the camera and turned it off. Then the tape ended with a blizzard pattern of static running across the screen. That was the end of the tape. Frank stared at the screen for five minutes with his eyes and mouth wide open. He quickly became resolute about finding McCoy’s coins, if they were still buried.
Frank had to find out more about Burt McCoy. So he walked to the closest library.
He sat down at a computer and went to the Google prompt already waiting and typed in “Burt McCoy, Savannah, GA” and pushed the “Enter” key. Several hits looked promising, but one grabbed Frank’s attention: “March 14, 1982: Elderly local millionaire shot on his property while driving crooks off from his house with rifles.” The next prompt stated: “Burt McCoy murdered by thieves, caught by police.”
Frank began to fit the story together with the video clip of the man named “Burt McCoy”. He wondered where Burt lived, but none of the articles he checked gave an address. He typed into Google: “Burt McCoy, Savannah, GA, home.” No luck.
Frank then searched a list of people who the man might have been related to, by typing “McCoy, Savannah, GA” but got almost no hits. Then, he decided to type in “old McCoy home, Savannah, GA”. Fortunately, he got one good hit: “McCoy home demolished; estate turned over to local government.”
This news article was dated September 2, 2018. Not long ago!, he thought. Also, the street name of the old man’s home was included in the article, and Frank quickly wrote it down. He also searched the internet for hits of any kind derived from typing “missing coin collection found”. Fortunately, news about the treasure was scarce, which was encouraging that nobody had discovered the treasure yet. But McCoy’s yard had to be located first.
Frank raced back home to get a shovel. Then he went to the thrift store to check if they had any metal detectors. Fortunately, his boss gladly let him borrow an old one without all the modern bells and whistles. He practiced with it for half an hour until he felt comfortable using it.
Then, Frank’s heart began to race as he drove to the property. When he came closer, he watched in horror as bulldozers were combing an area towards the back of the property. After panicking slightly, he tried to calm himself in order to recall clues from watching the tape. First, McCoy had been digging next to a magnolia sapling, which would have grown a lot since 1982. Then, Frank recalled McCoy facing his right when he heard the noise made by the engines of the automobiles that were coming for him.
After examining the landscape, looking for grown magnolia trees, he spotted three. He searched where the house used to stand which was to McCoy’s right. Unfortunately, all of the magnolias were prime candidates for the location of the treasure. Frank wasted no time opening his car’s trunk to get out the detector and the shovel.
Frank thought he was racing against time to find the treasure because the bulldozer operators might see him and come over to see what he was doing. Frank picked one of the trees and quickly turned his detector on, swiftly swinging it back and forth. He didn’t get any readings with the first. He walked as quickly as he could to the second magnolia and swung the machine all around it. No luck there either. The last tree had to be the one.
By now, Frank had attracted the attention of one of the bulldozer’s operators from one hundred yards away and he got off the machine. Frank saw him and swung the detector wildly and quickly got a strong signal. This had to be it! He thought. So, he dropped the detector and wielded the shovel into the ground just outside of the signal.
He dug so fast he almost didn’t care about harming the container that contained the coins. But, the bulldozer operator picked up the pace, walking quickly towards Frank.
Frank dug until he found the plastic container. As he pulled it out of the ground. It felt fairly heavy, which was a good sign it was loaded with coins inside. The bulldozer operator recognized what Frank was carrying and he began to pick up the pace. Frank carried the container, detector, and shovel all at once to his car as fast as he could. Then he took off, right before the guy got to Frank’s car door just as he peeled out.
As soon as he drove up to his trailer, he opened the old, dirty plastic box and saw the coins. He looked through them and started throwing them in the air, yelling “Eureka..I’m rich!” Frank learned just how rich after bringing the coins to a reputable coin dealer in Atlanta who estimated the total value of the treasure at $3 million, which, at auction brought $4 million.
A month later the money became available to Frank, who already knew what to do with his wealth – buy Burt McCoy’s land and build a modest house approximately where the old one stood. However, he kept his job at the thrift store in case he discovered any other hidden treasures.