When I was fourteen, I was in Western Auto to buy something. Most likely a baseball or BB’s, my normal purchases, when I spied a shotgun on the sales rack. I was looking it over pretty close when Wayne Littlejohn, owner, came over to give assistance. Wayne took the gun from the rack and let me more closely examine it. It was a beauty, a 16 gauge pump shotgun, the kind of gun I had been dreaming about for a long time. I thanked Wayne for letting me look at the gun and made some comment about saving my money.
At some point, Wayne made contact with my Grandfather and told him of my examination of the gun. My Grandfather talked with my Mom and Dad about Christmas and the possibility of the gun being my Christmas gift. Somebody bought the gun, I think it was my Grandfather, he bought me my first gun, my first 22 rifle, my 12 gauge automatic, so I’m guessing he paid for the gun. Well, no matter, the plan was to surprise me with the gun on Christmas.
The next time I was in Western Auto, I made my way over to the guns and it was gone! My dream gun, gone, gone, gone. Mr. Littlejohn told me that someone came in the store and bought it a few days ago. I was sad, but I could keep saving and someday buy a gun like it.
A few days later I was visiting my Grandparents and Mr. and Mrs. Bill Wallace came by to visit. Mr. Grandfather was telling Mr. Wallace of my disappointment with the gun being sold and Mr. Wallace said to him, “Tommie I have a shotgun that Lynn can borrow, I don’t use it anymore. I would be glad to let him borrow it, I even have some shells.:” “What do you think Lynn”, would you like to borrow Mr. Wallace’s gun for squirrel season that opens in a couple of weeks?” “Oh sure,” “I’ll take good care of it”. So, we made arrangements for me to pick up the gun at the Wallace residents in the next few days.
When I picked up the gun, complete with case, I quickly went to my Grandparents, only a block away, to look the gun over. To my surprise the gun was identical to the the gun I had seen at Western Auto. Wow, I cleaned the gun, put it into the case, and rode home. I hunted with the gun the entire season, cleaned it often, took the best of care of it, I felt really fortunate that Mr. Wallace loaned the gun to me. Finally the day came when it was suggested that I take the gun home since squirrel season was over. I did and I thanked Mr. Wallace for his kindness. He assured me that I could borrow the gun anytime.
The next few week, about four, until Christmas flew by pretty fast. I didn’t give much thought about a gun for Christmas. I was still feeling good about Mr. Wallace’s kindness. Maybe someday I would get a gun just like it.
Finally it’s Christmas morning. I sent my sister, Cheryl, into the living room early, around 4:00 a.m., to inquire about Santa’s arrival, to see if it was possible to open gifts. As always, Mom and Dad, stuggled to get out of bed, to make ready our dash to the tree. It was time—-we took off and began the ritual of gift opening. Imagine my surprise when I was handed a gift that was long, narrow, and heavy. I knew what it was, I just didn’t know the rest of the story. I tore open the box, pulled out the contents and there it was—-a gun case just like Mr. Wallace’s and a 16 gauge shotgun just like . . . They pulled a trick on me, Wayne Littlejohn, Bill Wallace, and Tommie Smith, the gun I had used all squirrel season was the gun “loaned” to me by Mr. Wallace. It was a great day!
Mr. Grandfather treasured this story. He was so glad to have found a way for me to use the gun immediately, and so glad to help make my Christmas so good. Every boy needs a Grandfather like Tommie Smith, he was truly my hero.
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