Last year, I spoke at my father’s funeral. I started out by saying how anyone who knew me knew it wouldn’t be very long until I mentioned Laura Ingalls Wilder, and if you knew my father it wouldn’t be very long until he started talking about guns. I would be bringing them a little of both.
I was in my late twenties before I realized that most people remember the Voice in the Woods story after a long-winded explanation of how to load the gun. I remembered that part because when I was Laura and Mary’s age, I would often “load bullets” with my Daddy. He was in a group that would have shooting matches with muzzleloader guns.
Now as a child, I was more likely to be found reading a Little House book than playing outside UNLESS Dad was making bullets. Melted lead makes the entire house stink (think nothing of melting lead in the garage, it was the 1980s and the garage door was open) so I would be outside.
However, the next part was the part where I could help.
We would weigh the powder out so that the scale was even – adding or subtracting grain by grain until it was the right weight. This was for a competition so that we could not use Pa Ingalls’ method of just knowing the right amount. We would dump it through a funnel into the case, after Dad checked that I was reading the scale correctly.
Another night we would “grease” the bullets in the little green contraption on his workbench. Dad would plug the top of the case with the bullet. On the day of the match, the cases and bullets would go into the white bag, my Grandmother had sewn to look like it was from the Civil War. It didn’t take Dad as long to reload as it sounds like it took Pa, because the relay was only three minutes, and he would have to hit four to eight targets during that time.
Sitting on a two-step ladder next to Dad and helping him is one of my strongest childhood memories. What are some of yours? Do they remind you of Little House in any way?