‘Great Balls of Fire’ directs man to treasure’s location

HIDDEN TREASURE FOUND—Treasure hunt organizers are pictured with the Grattan man who found the coin here. From left are Dennis Spitler, Linda Anderson, Carl Stites, Joe Longo and daughter Kristen. Kristen said she will get to spend some of the $1,000 in free gas whether her dad knows it yet or not.

HIDDEN TREASURE FOUND—Treasure hunt organizers are pictured with the Grattan man who found the coin here. From left are Dennis Spitler, Linda Anderson, Carl Stites, Joe Longo and daughter Kristen. Kristen said she will get to spend some of the $1,000 in free gas whether her dad knows it yet or not.

Joe Longo, of Grattan Township, said he enjoys treasure hunts and mental exercises, and it was putting thought into this year’s clues that put him ahead of the pack in finding treasure. Longo was the winner of this year’s Cannon Area Business Association treasure hunt worth $1,000. He found the coin in wood chips at the reproduction of the township cannon located in Cannonsburg.

Longo didn’t have any luck with the first few clues: Before the river and the rapids you’ll see, figure it out and you’ll find me and To get ahead on your chase, see the local dentist without haste.

According to clue writer Carl Stites, the first clue was to give treasure hunters the word Grand, which is the name of the company that gave the cannon to Cannon Township (LeGrand Cannon). The second referred to the fact the cannon was hidden after a young man was injured and died when it misfired, sending him to the doctor.

Clues three and four referred to a well-known anchor and an annual event where people cheer. The anchor he referred to is anchorman Walter Cronkite, who has the same first name as the young man killed and the fourth of July, the day of the year the death happened.

“You really had to know the history behind the cannon to find it this year,” Stites said.

It was clue five and six that sent Longo along the right direction. Add one to eighty-four gives 85, the year the cannon misfired (1885) and Mr. Miller’s due in clue six refers to the practice in which millers kept a portion of ground grain as their fee. The coin was hidden near the Gristmill.

“That’s when I got out the history book and saw in 1885 the young man lost his leg,” Longo said. The final two clues led him right to the cannon. This clue is no lark, but it does involve a spark and Get down on one knee, hum a tune from Jerry Lee and the coin you may see. Spark referred to the cannon fire, as does Jerry Lee’s tune, Great Balls of Fire.

Stites said he was nervous this year that the coin would be found too soon. A photo in the Squire of last year’s organizers show them at the Cannon. “I didn’t want to look like the village idiot again like the first year when it was found right away.”

Longo said he enjoys the hunt and has been close to being the first to find it before. He can’t wait until next year to try again. Stites is already thinking of a new place and clues for the event, as well as a time he can stash the coin worth one grand when no one will see him.

“I was crawling in the grass under the cover of darkness like a Navy Seal, worried a sheriff deputy would see me and wonder what I was doing,” he said. “It’s lots of fun. I had a lot of smiles this year.”

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