Wiltz: Getting on in years? -- let her rip
If life were a round of golf, I'd be putting on the 17th green. But you know what? That 18th hole could be very interesting with a dogleg, sand traps, trees, water, and a sloping green.
Though I know she's right, at least up to a point, it annoys the heck out of me when Betsy gets after me to get rid of some of my stuff. She says, "Make it easier for the kids when we're gone." With this line of thinking in mind, I'm waging an inner struggle. Of late, I've really gotten into ice fishing. Do I go out and get myself a Vexilar fish-finder and a power auger, or do I resign myself to the notion that I may be dead before I get much use out of it.
A voice in my brain keeps telling me, "Roger, sell your guns, or at least sell the antiques you don't use." And then the voice on the other side of my brain says, "Roger, you enjoy owning those historical Colts, Springfields, and Winchesters. If you see one you like, go for it!" Is this struggle just me, or do all of us senior folks face these thoughts?
Back in the sixties when I taught at Parkston, our ninth grade literature anthology included the short story, "The Heyday of the Blood" by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. I've never forgotten that story. In this literary masterpiece, young Joey Mallory worries about the inevitable death of his grandfather.
Fisher writes, "I tell you Joey, I've lived a long time and I've learned a lot about how folks is made. The trouble with most of 'em is that they're 'fraid-cats! The only way to manage this business of living is to give a hoop and let her rip. If you've just about half lived, you just the same as half die ... but folks that live die happy anyhow ... live while you live and then die and be done with it!" Profound, isn't it. So ... Do I sell most of my guns and forget about that trip to Great Slave Lake, or do I "Give a hoop and let her rip!" As I already stated, Betsy's right up to a point. I sold some of those things that no longer interest me, but I also "let her rip" and I feel great about it.
About a month ago a catalog from Rock Island Auction Company showed up in the mail. Their
auction for Feb. 14-17 featured over 5,100 lots and 10,000 firearms. There were guns I was interested in, but there's one gun in particular I've wanted to own since I was a kid, and that's a
Springfield .45-70 "trapdoor" carbine, the gun carried by the ill-fated 7th Cavalry at the Little Bighorn. This same carbine armed the cavalry at Fort Meade as they protected early miners and settlers. It's a gun with a rich South Dakota tradition.
I spent two days going through the catalog and filling out a sealed bid sheet for lots that featured a Springfield carbine as well as a few "wish list" items including a Model 1899B Savage lever-action with an octagon barrel. I put my bid sheet in the mail.
RIAC warns the buyer that all sales are final, and they strongly recommend that the bidder either personally examines bid items on the preview day or have someone examine the guns for them. On the 13th Betsy and I drove down to Rock Island to look over my bid items. I was pleased that Betsy went along. I scratched a few items, and raised my bid on a few others.
Now the waiting. On Thursday night I checked the computer. My bids for the day fell short. Friday night revealed more of the same. Would my trip, time, and efforts be in vain? On Saturday I won the bid on a pair of 1899 Savage lever-actions, one being the 1899B with an octagon barrel. My efforts were rewarded, but I was down to my final day on a Springfield carbine. I raised my bid via email.
I won the Sunday carbine bid, and I was ecstatic! I headed to the basement to load ammo for my carbine and my 1899B Savage. In Dorothy Canfield Fisher's words, I had "let her rip!"
How big is RIAC? In 2018, they sold a Colt Walker for $1,840,000 and an 1886 Winchester for
See you next week.