wifey and i got back to sebring this past weekend, and on monday i stopped by the pawn shop to check up on clint and pick up my check (clint owns the shop now but i kept a minority share; he pays me weekly and the state license is still in my name).
so i'm there for a half hour or so offering what advice i can (price of gold has gone nuts and clint asked my opinion on what jewelry pieces to break stones out of to send the gold to the refiner; good grief, scrap 14k brings well over $16 per gram now, more than triple a few years ago)...and in walks an old fellow...now old guys-very old guys-are not scarce in sebring, especially this time of year...it's a winter mecca for mostly midwestern old folks...we call 'em q-tips...so it's easy to dismiss them without much thought; over the years when i was behind the counter i heard so many stories that started with "back in nineteen hunnerd and...that after a while my eyes glazed over.
but then after reading somewhere that about 2000 wwll vets leave us every day, i would ask guys that i thought likely to be vets if and when they served, shake their hand and thank them for saving the world (my dad's been gone 15 years now; how i wish i'd talked to him more).
clint asked this old fellow what he needed, and the old guy said "well, you don't have it, but i'm looking for an inland carbine made by g.m." now, i had dropped my ffl a year or so before i sold out but clint is ex-army (new generation) so he went into firearms in a pretty big way...he has a wall full of ebr's an a case full of springfield s/a handguns...but also a pretty good collection of neat old stuff standing in the bottom rack, quite a few are from the hundred or so pieces i left him with.
clint says "you know what, i might just have one"...he walks around the counter and picks up a .30, and it's exactly what the old guy asked for; general motors manufactured, and as original as any i've seen...the old boy was a bit shocked, he must have been asking around for quite a while for one (i doubt he's attuned to online access)...then i think he was shocked again when he flipped over the price tag (no doubt he remembered postwar $20 carbines). so he cuddled it for a while and then said he probably made the components himself...he was a machinist at g.m. during the peak of the war and said he made parts for thousands of those carbines...when asked, he said no, he hadn't served in the military, when he applied and told the induction agent what he did for a living, he was told he was doing too valuable of a job to be signed on as a grunt.
so i told him, yes the hell he had served his country in the war, and shook his hand and thanked him...he didn't buy the gun, probably couldn't afford it, but said he'd think about it and left the store.
now, why the hell didn't i get his name, the actual location of his plant, and the years he worked there? when did he stop building those carbine parts and what had he done since then? it's easy to get jaded with old folks when you're in your fifties and you're still the young'uns when you take your wife out to dinner, surrouned by eighty and even ninety-somethings...but this old fellow was American history personified; i wish i had gotten more details, but i am truly grateful to him, to all the other cogs in the wheels that saved the world without any real thanks or recognition, and i'm glad that i met him and thanked him myself.
update: talked to clint the following week, and the old boy came back and bought the carbine! i was very happy to hear this and that clint knocked the price down to $500even though this gun was nice enough to bring 600-650 online or at a show...there is justice in the world!