In the years following that fateful trip to Haiti when the silver bar was found, my dad Greg Brooks was bitten by the treasure hunting bug. My mom, Kathy, remembers that upon their return to Maine in late 1984, he had no intention of forgetting the experience of diving in the crystal clear waters of Haiti and discovering that bit of old treasure beneath the sea. He continued maintaining his swimming pool business and did not slack on any of his responsibilities. However, some of his free time was devoted to studying shipwrecks, and how to go about recovering treasure from them – both the logistics of bringing it up, along with the legal side of things. This was more than a hobby, though. He had every intention of turning this into a career, but he knew he couldn’t just abandon his profitable swimming pool company without knowing what came next.
My mom remembers my dad being extremely interested in his studies. He would share facts with her, and stories. She was fascinated too, as almost everyone is when they hear about these tales. Even the people who aren’t interested in history as a whole can usually find tales of pirates and sunken gold and silver entertaining. It helps, of course, that my parents can make any story captivating by their contagious excitement. My parents are both wonderful storytellers, and I think it’s from the two of them that I get my love of writing. My mom is a great writer, and she has a good memory and knack for details that give a story rich color, and bring it to life. My dad is a wonderful spoken storyteller, and is so charismatic that you almost feel like you are there when he tells you stories of buccaneers and old Spanish galleons. They were both fascinated by learning about the business of treasure hunting, though my dad did most of the research on his own. Between this, they were busy with the swimming pool business and caring for my sister Shannon, who was 11 at the time. Shannon lived with her mother at this point in time, but spent many weekends with my parents – her dad and stepmother. Their lives were busy and so my dad continued learning what he could so that he could eventually turn this passion into a full-time career.
In the meantime, my parents would go sluicing. Sluicing is a way to pan for gold, and is a fairly popular hobby, especially in Maine. Maine has many natural rivers and streams with lots of local gemstones and crystals. Using a sluice box, you are able to collect these rocks from the riverbeds and currents. They found a number of beautiful stones while sluicing including garnets, a bright red gemstone that can be very valuable. My parents also went to nearby quarries to search for rocks. This was a hobby they had for many years, and I remember going with them to quarries as a child. I enjoyed this time very much, and remember tumbling rocks I would find later on at school to make them smooth. I still collect rocks and crystals and consider this early exposure to the natural beauty of the earth one of the reasons why I do so.
While my dad could only imagine the business he would have in the future, he did take several steps to get started. In addition to his extensive research, he began seeking out ways to finance the operation. With the help of my mom, he was able to locate several potential investors.
Many people might not know it, especially now, but everyone that has known my dad for many years tells me that he was a very shy man. When my mom met him back in 1980, she said he was bashful. I find that very hard to believe, because as anyone who knows my dad nowadays has observed, he is outgoing and says whatever is on his mind! This was sometimes embarrassing, especially when I was going through that typical teenager phase. Sometimes when I was in public he would sing loudly, try to trip me, or tell people he had checked me out of the looney bin for the day. He’s a silly guy, with a great sense of humor, and is able to talk to anyone. That wasn’t always the case. As my dad began making clients in the swimming pool business, he started to realize that it’s important to form relationships with people and ensure that they trust you, especially if you are providing a service for them. This was especially true when he started getting investors for his treasure hunting company. He wanted them to share his excitement, and he wanted them to trust that he could do the things he said he was going to do. He began to open up, as he took more chances in life. His fear of what other people might say or do, or that he might fail, began to leave him. He had no other choice. In order to pursue his dream, he had to let go of those fears or else he might never get anywhere.
Anyone who has heard my dad give a motivational speech will know that he has a way of turning your mood around from discouraged to feeling like you can do anything. Even if the speech is just about getting your homework done, or making sure you finish your dinner, he can make you excited about it. His enthusiasm for things is catching. He had a vision, and because he was able to share that vision with others, it came to be. The investors wanted to be a part of it, even if at first they had their doubts. There is no way you can hear my dad talk about this company and NOT want to be a part of it. You feel like you’d be missing out!
It’s important to take chances like that, and my dad became someone who would not miss those chances. That spirit founded this company and it’s what pushed it on, even through obstacles that seemed hard to overcome. When you truly love something and feel strongly about it, there is little room for failure, and it becomes impossible to bide your time on something that you don’t feel that way about. While my dad continued the swimming pool business, he was busy building a new dream.