This past weekend I participated in a Gun & Knife Show. Jan and I work 8 or 9 shows a year and have gotten to know a lot of people over the years. A lot of them I’ve known for 10-15 years and only know their first names. Doesn’t matter, we’re friends that look out for each other and are ready to lend a helping hand as needed.
The recent show was an especially good time. It was located about 50 miles from an area we lived in and owned a sporting goods store back in the 80’s and early 90’s. We’ve moved around a lot since then and fell out of contact with a lot of our old friends and acquaintances. Typically, I’ll run into an old business partner who still lives in the area. Running into him this past weekend was nothing short of good luck.
I had been visiting with a couple of fellas and as they walked away, my old partner said it was great I got to visit with Howard. When I asked him “Howard who”, he started laughing and told me it was an old customer that we did a lot of business with and actually interacted with socially. On Sundays we used to get together at our house and have informal silhouette shoots. Howard was a regular.
When I finally caught up with him I reintroduced myself and we had a great laugh as neither of us recognized the other. At first we wrote it off to memory loss. Then we admitted we’d both gained a few (quite a few) pounds. I’d lost more hair, shaved my beard off and his hair and beard had gone from brown to snowy white. The first thing my wife asked him was how was his wife. He quickly replied he thought pretty well but he’d divorced her years ago. The shocker came when he introduced his 40+ year old son who I remembered as a snot nosed 5 year old. Wow.
It was a great reunion that covered a lot of ground in a short time. There were many great memories that came from the conversation. There were a couple other old friends that I got a chance to visit with. It seemed like so many of the conversations seemed to pick up where we’d last left off.
The customers at the show were abundant and flush with cash. My favorite sale at the show was with a young fella around 11 or 12. He came by with his mom a couple of times and spent a lot of time looking at the pocket knife display. On his last round, he picked out a knife and while I could tell mom wasn’t as excited as he was, she approved the sale.
Now I’m not sure if she was a single parent but I kind of read the situation as such. I take dealing with kids pretty serious and while I want to encourage them in their hobbies, I don’t want them to be stupid. So….as only I can do, I told him if I ever caught wind that he’d taken the pocket knife to school to show a buddy, I’d personally take it upon myself to look him up and blister his butt. As soon as the words were out of my mouth I had an ‘oh shit‘ moment. I quickly glanced at his mother who (fortunately for me) had a grin on her face. She nodded and told me he had yet to earn the privilege of carrying it. Whew!!! At least he looked me in the eye and said ok.
I love working these shows and getting the opportunity to interact with people. Particularly the kids. They bring a fresh outlook and enthusiasm to collecting. Kids aren’t looking for the next knife that will become a $1000 dollar collectible. They’re looking at a pocket or hunting knife that they can use and be proud to own. Chances are it won’t end up laying in a drawer gathering dust. It’s going to be an object that hopefully, 40 years from now will have a trail of memories they can share with their kids. Maybe the first fish it cleaned, the first deer they dressed, the scar on their finger (I’ve got a few of those). That’s how we all learn and remember.