“Aw shucks All About Guns



By the winter of 1956–57 John had the first three early Ruger single actions offered —
the .22 Single-Six, the .357 Blackhawk and the .44 Magnum Blackhawk.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” — Robert Frost.

Anyone who cannot look back down their personal Road of Life and see many, many roads — which ones were chosen and the effect it had on life — has just not been paying attention. I will say there’s no such thing as chance or coincidence. Everything happens for a reason. We may not understand the reason at the time, we may never understand it but it’s always there.


The first fork in the road I remember came in fourth grade. One day my teacher said she would like me to spend a couple weeks with the fifth graders. After those two weeks she asked if I would like to go into the fifth grade permanently. There was the choice. Should I stay on the road marked fourth grade or did I fork off into the fifth grade? I chose the latter. For the rest of my school days, I was always one grade ahead and graduated after 11 years, instead of 12. Was it a good or bad choice?

I was not ready for college by any means and lived in the area containing the general offices and main plants of five tire companies. I had just turned 17 and after graduation, went to the office of one of the tire companies. I took the test required, scored high and told I could have my choice of any job. They then looked at my birth date and informed me they could only hire people who were at least 18 years of age. There’s a reason there somewhere and I soon found it.

Another Change

A construction company was hiring order boys and I got the job. The salesman would write up the orders and we would go all over the building to fill the orders and bring them to the shipping department where they would be delivered the next day on a fleet of eight bright red Reo trucks.

Because of this job I met a fellow who would become a lifelong friend and he introduced me to the best gun shops and gun shows. His name was John also and is now a retired LEO living in Florida. Because of him I bought my first .22 Marlin 39A and soon followed it with the .22 Ruger Single-Six. Then came the .38-40 Colt SAA, .45 Colt SAA, .357 Blackhawk Flat-Top, .44 Magnum Blackhawk Flat-Top and others. At the time I kept a running gun tab at Boyle’s Gun Shop.

The second thing happened after I had been there a few months. The boss came to me and said, “I want you to be foreman of the men charged with unloading everything that comes into the building.” I’m just 17 and was asked to be the foreman of men, the youngest of which was about 32. These men were all black working for minimum wage as there were few real opportunities for black men yet in the 1950s.

I was told my job would be to assign them to their various tasks and just stand there with a clipboard to check off everything. I was only 17 but smart enough to realize these guys were not going to work for me if I didn’t do anything but stand there with a pencil.

So I worked right alongside of them and two things happened: I gained their respect and with hard work, built myself up to the point I could pick up 500-lb. bars of pig lead or put a 200-lb. keg of nails on my shoulder and walk up three flights of stairs and back down again. Now I can barely pick up a fork and forget stairs.

John’s first centerfire sixgun and first Colt Single Action was a 4-3/4″ .38-40 purchased in 1956,
followed by the first 2nd Generation Colt Single Action to appear in his area, a 7-1/2″ .45 Colt.

Another Road

I was working hard every day, paying my Mom room and board, buying everything I needed for myself and definitely buying guns. I was as happy as happy could be.

It was my habit to go to church with my mother. The church had a large youth group but no one ever approached me. I found out later it was because I looked older and my Mom, who had been a teenage bride, teenage mother and teenage widow all in the space of less than two years, was now in her late 30s. She looked younger and I looked older so they thought I was married — to my mother!

One particular morning my mom wasn’t feeling well and I arrived at church early where an usher put me into a Sunday school class. At the same time, there was a young girl who went to church with her father on the other side of town. This particular day she and her father had an argument so she came to my church. She normally only came to the Sunday night youth group but when the usher shoved me into Sunday school class, there she was.

Up to this time I had no time for girls. All my expendable money went for guns and shooting. I had never dated through high school and this young blonde made a real mistake — she paid attention to me. One look at her and I was totally smitten by the young girl who now is known as Diamond Dot. Was it coincidence we both wound up in the same spot at the same time? We were married the following February, now going on 62 years ago.

Hook Of Kismet

We were both earning about $200 a month and wanted to have a family. This meant Dot would have to quit her job and we would have to live on half this amount. I loved my job but had to find something different. How was this going to happen?
We had been out shopping on a hot Saturday afternoon and decided to stop by the apartment to put the milk and meat in the refrigerator. In the 1950s many cars were set up so you could start it, remove the key from the ignition and it would still keep running.

I did a very stupid thing — I took the key out, left the motor running and handed the keys to Dot. I don’t have the slightest idea why I would leave the car running since we didn’t have air conditioning anyhow. Dot placed the milk and meat into the refrigerator, came back out and I asked her for the keys. I could tell by the look on her face what just happened. The car was running and the keys were in the locked apartment!

The back door of our apartment opened onto a balcony-type porch about 10 feet off the ground so we rarely locked it. All I had to do was shinny up the porch post, go in the back door and retrieve my keys. I could still shinny in those days.

As I got up to the banister and prepared to step over, I put my foot on a clothesline hook to help me over. I was wearing moccasins and the sharpened hook went into the bottom of my foot. Blood was flowing, so I wrapped it in a towel, retrieved the keys, went back out to the car and had Dot drive me to the hospital to get bandaged and a tetanus shot. I was told I would have to be off work for at least a week. Was there a reason for all of this?


I found out on Monday morning when Dot called me from her office at the factory to tell me they were hiring. Since I was now over the age of 18, I was hired making three times what I had been making. Now we could start a family of our own. If Dot had not left the keys in the apartment perhaps none of this would’ve happened.

The downside to my new job was unlike the one I loved, I hated every minute in the place. I worked the night shift six days a week and there was simply no joy in going to work — but as I have tried to teach my children and grandchildren, there are things in this life we do, not because we want to, but simply because we have to.

I dreaded going to work and my only thought was “Why am I here?” Was there really a reason? Had I taken the wrong fork in the road?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *