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Meet Julian Massoth, the Man Who Won an Industrial-grade Diamond in a Box of Spic and Span

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One summer afternoon, my publisher, Emerson Lynn, Jr., knocked on the darkroom door and sort of sheepishly asked if I would come take a picture of a fellow who said he'd won a diamond in a box of Spic and Span soap. I say he asked sheepishly because I had, early on, established that I really didn't do that sort of thing because it really wasn't befitting of a snobbish photojournalist who had only recently gotten his degree. But since I didn't want to unduly tick off the guy who handed me my paycheck every two weeks, I followed him to the newsroom where I was introduced to Julian Massoth. Julian was a rather strikingly peculiar-looking guy, and I decided I would shoot him Richard Avedon-style against the white wall of a nearby building. As I brought him into focus through the viewfinder, I happened to notice on the corner of the box in which he said he'd discovered his remarkable prize read the words, "Free Inside: Diamond, Emerald, Sapphire, or Garnet!" Yes, Julian had won a diamond, but so apparently had everyone who'd purchased a box of Spic and Span in the last six months. I confronted him on this, and he said he'd discovered the diamond in the box, taken it to a jeweler who'd said it was "worth hundreds," and had the jeweler mount the thing in a ring, which Julian proudly displayed to anyone who would happen by. Despite my pointing out these facts to the publisher and and the word reporter, they went ahead and did a little story on Julian and published the picture along with it. The sad thing is it was only many years later that I grew up enough to realize that it's stuff like this that made small town newspapers very special.

Photographed with a Pentax MX and SMC Pentax-M 40mm lens.

Thomas Long
Created on
Monday 30 June 1986