I’ve been selling things ever since I got married the first time, 38 years ago. The big stuff and valuable stuff, like my horse and saddle, tended to go first. Smaller things and items that I was especially attached to have tended to remain. I’ve been sorting and selling again since losing my job 14 months ago, yet I still have some junk laying around collecting dust.
A lot of the things have no real value except for the memories they elicit when I see them. In my youth, I’d thought that I’d keep a lot of those things to use as visual aids when telling stories to my kids and grandkids about their ancestors and ways of life long gone. Alas, as some of you know, I had no kids and the grandkids that I have by my stepson are basically unknown to me and unconnected to any of the stories in my mind. And so, some things have been saved just for my own pleasure and some just because I haven’t figured out the best way to dispose of them. Many are a combination of the two.
And so it was with the old ammo box that I came across in the basement yesterday. The box contained the seven paper-hulled shells that you see in the accompanying photo, five Winchesters and two Remingtons. Three shot sizes are represented in the small collection—4’s, 5’s and 6’s. Granddad used the 5’s and 6’s to hunt squirrels, I’m sure, probably in the 40’s, but maybe the 50’s. I’m not sure what the 4’s were for, unless he couldn’t find the size he wanted one time. It was with a paper-hulled shell from this box that I took my first squirrel at age 12, using his old rabbit-eared double barrel with the Damascus barrels. He’d been gone four years by that time.
The five little .32 Smith & Wesson shells in the photo were in the .22 long ammo box. That was a full loading for the little Iver Johnson owl’s head revolver that he carried in his hip pocket most of his life as he worked in the oil fields. Even after his “retirement,” he still used it to kill hogs at slaughter. There had been a few more rounds, but even with a broken mainspring, I learned that all it took to fire the gun was a strong rubber band. I saved the last five, though. I gave the pistol to an older cousin a couple years ago. I almost wish I’d kept it and had it repaired, but that would have been selfish, I guess. Besides, I don’t think you can buy ammo for it anymore.
The .22 box is definitely from the 40’s (maybe even the 30’s), because it would have belonged to my dad, and he was married and out of the house by the 50’s, and Granddad never had a .22. Dad took only head shots on squirrels and didn’t need the extra power of a long rifle cartridge, plus longs were cheaper than long rifles in those days, unlike now. Also, his Mossberg 37-A would hold a few more rounds in the magazine when using longs.
Dad’s rifle and Granddad’s shotgun left my home a few years ago in a previous round of poverty. They didn’t bring much, but much more than this little pile of memories will fetch. I’ll just advertise these few things for “best reasonable offer” in our local sale paper and see if I get a bid. I’ll always have my memories as long as I have my mind, and parting with these things will leave a tiny bit less clutter in the basement. © 2014