Dead Fish in a Box

The chronicles of a suburban fishpimp trying to keep it rural.

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Location: United States

Sunday, May 22, 2005

2 Gun Salute

My granddad passed away last month. He was a pretty incredible guy. Lived to age 93. He was the football coach at Auburn (NY) High School from 1947 to 1958, compiling a record of 71-18-11, including 6 undefeated seasons. Two of the winning streaks he coached are still among the top 10 in New York State history. He went on to coach baseball and had similar success. He retired in 1975 but continued to be involved with the school, running the football scoreboard until just a few years ago. He attended Cortland State University (now SUNY Cortland) where he won 16 varsity letters (Baseball, Football, Basketball, Track). Here's a link to his obit in the Auburn Citizen

None of this athletic prowess was passed on to me. I got cut from the frat IM softball team.

He was also an avid outdoorsman (I did get some of this). For years he stocked the table with game he hunted and produce from the garden he cultivated every summer until his early 90’s. He was a master craftsman; he carved some of the most beautiful gunstocks, all hand-checkered. He carved a lot of them. It must have been cathartic for him. And judging by the state of his house I imagine for a man who came of age in the Great Depression raising kids during the changes of the 1960’s probably needed some serious catharsis. Seriously, I remember it looked like an NRA convention, racks of rifles & shotguns in almost every room. He’d barter them. He traded one of his neighbors a couple hand carved rifles for tickets to fly out to see us in Seattle. He traded another for a Brittney spaniel puppy. When I was back for the memorial service 3 weeks ago people talked about his work in the shop almost as much as his work on the football field.

I’m writing all this because my shoulder hurts like hell today. Grandpa left me two guns: a .22 Kimber bolt action with a stock carved from the most beautiful curly maple you’ll ever lay eyes on (it looks a little like this), and a 20-guage Eastern Firearms side-by-side shotgun with a classic walnut stock. I took the shotgun out for a test-drive yesterday. It’s been a while since I’ve done any skeet shooting, but, man, it was fun.

I was going to write a piece about how ironic it is that the Fishpimp known as “The Treehugger” now owns firearms. But I felt more appropriate writing a little tribute to my grandpa. We weren’t all that close, he lived in NY, and didn’t like to travel, and we didn’t get out of Seattle much, unless it was on a boat, but he embodied everything one envisions when asked to define words like “gentleman”, “sportsmanship”, “class”, and “work-ethic” He was a great man, and I’ll remember that every time I go out for a shoot.

I just wish remembering him didn’t leave my shoulder as black & blue as the barrels on the guns he left me.


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