Thursday, October 25, 2018

George Washington Slept Here

Wonder of wonders, my last Dirt Girl post about losing my longtime job actually netted me a rather sweet freelance gig. Little did I know that my long and somewhat whiny plaint (illustrated with stuff I dug out of the ground) would find its way to the desk of a Cincinnati media company that started shooting me advertorial work right away. It’s not what I need long-term, but writing about financial planners, travel agents and endodontists is fun and is keeping me and Al in ramen noodles and guitar strings for the time being. Thanks to all 32 of you who commented! I appreciated the kind words.

(Me being responsible: Anyone looking for a copywriter can check out my portfolio at

OK. This post is just going to be a breezy little recap of recent finds. Also included will be some not-so-recent finds because I dug a LOT of cool stuff during the THREE YEARS I ignored this blog. You deserve to see these magnificent, dirt-encrusted items!

At the end of the post will be some Big News.

First, here is a random picture of Pearl. I didn't dig her up. (Digging is her job, as my yard can attest.) I found her a year ago at Nashville Humane and I love her so much.

Pearl, wondering what and why.

There’s a road near my house that I just never get tired of. It runs along a high bluff overlooking the Cumberland River. People have been walking along that river for… well, as long as there have been people walking. I think I’ve detected 70-80 yards along or near this particular road. In fact—and don’t tell Al—I’ve had something of a love affair with one yard. Been digging it for years and yes, every now and then, I bring the homeowner brownies. I’ve found lots of Colonial stuff there. Here’s a smattering. Longtime DGU readers will recognize some items from previous posts.

What I originally thought was a broken Colonial
flat button turned out to be an India-Bengal
Presidency "pice" circa 1810. The writing is Persian.
This is perhaps my favorite find of all time, and the
inspiration for my song, "How'd This Get Here?"
OK, I didn't actually find this; Cheryl Clark did, about 20 feet
from where I was standing. Grrr. This is an actual "piece of eight"
(a cut Spanish real coin.) Can't tell the year, of course, but
probably late 1700s. I'm including it here because it speaks
to the date of the activity that once took place on this
mild-mannered, suburban lawn. I, myself have found three
Spanish reales (two whole, one cut) on this road over the years.

Lovely buttons.

Not sure what this was; possibly a heel plate.

Bone-handled implements.

WWII-era knapsack buttons.

Not sure what these little shields are. Possibly
saddle or bridle decorations. You'll see another
later in this post, from the lawn next door.

Another of my favorite finds of all time. Found these Colonial-era
items way out by the road, next to the mailbox, amid all
the usual modern roadside detritus: bottle caps, can slaw, etc.
These "TALLIO" cufflinks, showing a fox jumping over a log,
are found all over the Eastern seaboard, anywhere there may have
early settlements. The fact that there are two here, linked for the ages,
makes this an absolutely stellar find.

As you can see, I love the lawn, and the lawn loves me.

Of course, the logical step would be to get permission to dig the next yard over. I’d left messages in their mailbox, but never heard back. In my own little head, I decided that those people were mean, angry people who would NEVER let a dirt girl onto their property. Their house was too pristine, their yard immaculate. I gave up.

Silly me.

Turns out, the homeowner is the nicest guy ever. Out of the blue, he texted me and was 100% into having his yard detected, plus he wanted to try it himself. I loaned him a machine and we’ve been exploring his yard together for about 6 weeks now. I’ll let the finds speak for themselves.

Awesome homeowner with his first find. I think
it was a penny. 

I'd be lion if I said I wasn't thrilled to dig this item, right up
next to the house. I think it's part of an old drawer pull.


OK. This was next to the driveway, literally five feet from the
bumper of my 1999 Toyota Camry, and maybe 8 inches down.
 I was pretty sure it was something special from the get-go,
as I'd never seen such a big button. Turns out I was right.

Friends, this is a George Washington Inaugural
button, the extremely rare "Dotted Script" version,
made in 1789.
It's pretty toasty, but, heck, I hope I look this good after 229
years in the ground. (Not that I have any intention of getting
in the ground anytime soon.) And the shank is perfect.
I could sew this bad boy on a denim jacket and go
to a show, and I just might do that. 

Here's what it looked like back in the day.

No guarantees, but I'm fairly sure this beautiful item will be featured in the "Just Dug" section of the upcoming issue of American Digger Magazine. And yes, you may touch the hem of my garment.

Here's more (minus the GW button). Notice all those flat buttons
on the lower right and buckles to the left. All Colonial era.
 Also notice that "shield"thingie--just like the ones I found next door.
Oh, and that thing that looks like a cut coin (upper right)
 about made me bust out into the Macarena or some such,
but alas, it appears to be just a broken metal copper disk.
No markings of any kind. I like it, though.
It can't help it if it's not special.

All of this begs the question: WHAT WAS HERE ON THIS SPOT BEFORE ALL THESE RANCH HOUSES? I’ve looked at all the expected old maps, but find no mention of a house or farm on this site. Ideas, anyone?

Here are some other delightful finds from random different sites.

A realtor friend allowed me to check out a
property she was selling and it delivered.

Love this old buckle. It'll clean up real nice.

Know what this is? I didn't, but now I do:
a Civil War powder flask. So pretty.

This old log-splitter I pulled out of a Civil War encampment
is back at work in our yard. Strong and functional. Clearly
glad to be of service, ma'am.

Pretty sure this was from a West Nashville yard from last year.

A friend let me detect her East Nashville backyard. Didn't find much except this beautiful earring, which, it turned out, had been lost during a Halloween party years before.

Here's the moment when the woman who lost it learned she was getting it back. Happy feelings!

OK, the Big News. As many of you know, a few years back, I released "I Dug It Up"-- a record of 13 songs inspired by metal detecting.

If you think this photo was taken on a certain beloved bluff
overlooking the Cumberland, you'd be right. My buddy Jeff
Thorneycroft designed the whole album. Nailed it.

Everyone says CDs are dead, but I dunno; I sure sell a lot of them, both at gigs and from my website,

Well, presto-chango, I’ve turned I Dug It Up into a musical. Four characters, two acts, a whole lotta time travel, and most of the songs on the record—plus several new ones.

Nope, never done anything like this before. (I started the process by googling “how to write a musical.”) Oddly, I found I could only actually write the thing at SIP Café, near my house. Despite my powerful introversion, that loud and uncomfortable environment, with hits of the ‘70s or ‘90s blasting away (depending on the age of baristas), allowed me to write without stopping for SIX hours a stretch. Anyway, it’s done. Had the first reading in April. 

Many thanks to the actor friends who brought my characters
to life for the very first time, and to those who watched and
gave such excellent feedback.

I'm planning another reading soon. Stay tuned. Love, your Dirt Girl.


  1. Awesome post and finds!!! :-) Excited to see/hear your musical!!!!

    1. Thanks, pal! It's almost like the writing of it was the easy part. Wrassling it into an actual production is ... WOW. A lot of moving parts. Fingers xd one day the curtain will rise on it...

    2. News of anything you create, Whit, is most thrilling Thank you for your inspired writing. I look forward to the curtain's rising.

    3. Hey Harvey, it's gonna be a long process to get to rising curtain status, but stranger things have happened. I intended to write something really simple to produce and it has morphed into something a bit more complex. I'll figure something out... :-)

  2. I'm truly so in awe of you that I'm crying my eyes out at this very moment.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Just added DGU to my home screen. Pls post more frequently, I gotta justify giving it such prime real estate on my phone!

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  7. Whit, so glad you included a link to this as part of your signature. Now I want to become a dirt girl! Fascinating and our little island would be perfect for it.