Back in the 1970s, during the years I lived in and around Yellowstone National Park, I became friends with a Mississippian named Jim Shumaker. For several years we lived in that area having lots of good times as single men in their 20s are apt to do. Jim was the sort of friend who stepped up when I busted my knee in 1976. Until I got back on my feet, he stopped by my place every afternoon after work to see to it my dog and I were cared for.
I Want That
Not long into our friendship, we discovered a shared interest in single action revolvers. His was a Ruger Blackhawk (Old Model) .357 Magnum. Mine were Colt SAAs (2nd Generation) in calibers .357 Magnum and .45 Colt. As soon as he laid eyes on my Colts, he became covetous. Many times he said, “Sell me one of your Colts: either one.” Of course, my answer was always, “Nope, ain’t gonna happen.”
One fine spring day while I was still on crutches he came by and said, “Put on your boots. You need to get out in the sunlight. And get both your Colts out too.” He had permission to shoot “gophers” (actually ground squirrels) on a nearby ranch. The place was truly infested with the little varmints, and we shot away lots of my .357 and .45 handloads that afternoon. Jim intermittently pleaded, “Sell me one of these.” And I always said, “Never.” In those years between the end of 2nd Generation production and beginning of 3 rd Generation production, you couldn’t just walk into a gun store and buy a Colt SAA off the shelf.
One Saturday in 1976 Jim and I drove to Bozeman, Montana, and as usual perused gun stores. In the Powder Horn on Bozeman’s main street, we were looking over the used gun racks for anything of interest. A fellow walked past us and I, ever being observant, noticed the grip of a Colt SAA sticking out of the fellow’s front trouser pocket. So, I sort of followed him and eavesdropped as he spoke to the store owner behind the new handgun counter. He wanted to trade his Colt SAA .45 for a S&W .357 Magnum. The store owner said he wasn’t interested.
Art Of The Deal
At that point I intruded and asked the gent if we could look at the Colt. It about made me speechless — a condition my friends think is nigh impossible. It was an early 1900s 1st Generation .45 with 4¾” barrel in very nice condition. I asked, “How much?” He said, “That .357 S&W I want is about $250. I’ll take that much.” Now this is where the question about me being generous or stupid arises. I turned to Jim and said, “Well there’s your Colt, right there.” The deal was consummated, and we walked out of the store with what turned out to be a 1914 vintage SAA. The .45’s seller was happy to get his .357 Magnum, and the store owner was happy to make a sale.
Walking down Bozeman’s main street we both were enveloped in the pleasant aura of a job well done when suddenly the thought hit me, “I could have sold Jim one of my Colts and bought that .45 for myself.” Almost simultaneously, Jim turned to me and said, “Why didn’t you buy this one for yourself?” The question remains unanswered to this day. Was it generosity or stupidity? I’ll let you readers decide for yourselves.
Jim got set up to reload .45 Colts and we did lots of SAA shooting. In fact, we both bought 3rd Generation SAAs after they came out. His was a 7½” barreled .44 Special and mine was the same barrel length .45. Ironically, Jim did end up with my .357 SAA, after I became involved in varmint shooting and needed some bucks for a new scope. Nineteen years later Jim visited, and I bought it back from him and still have it.
As always, time changes things. We both got married and began careers. Jim was hired by a nationwide hotelier and managed establishments from coast to coast. And of course, I became a gun’riter and stayed in Montana. We kept in touch over the years and Yvonne and I were pleased he and his wonderful wife Karen decided to return to this area upon retirement. He still has that Colt .45 and once in a while we get together and I get to shoot it again. Always we reminisce about those great old bygone days.