Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Today's Davis Report

100 years old in 2015
It was a slow day so I decided to speed up things a bit and drop by to visit The Davis's. Stepped in the door and Willard's caregiver, Patsy McBride Steadham was there.  I had a bag of boiled peanuts that Gordon Howell had given me for  Roy Allen, my blind buddy over in Allentown and was on the way give them to Roy but Roy is such a sport, I decided it was OK to give the boiled peanuts to Willard, who can't eat them because of the salt content anyway and then, Doug  will just pig out on them and ruin his supper. So I had them in my hand, fresh hot and boiled by Frank Lowry, up the road -  and bought by Gordon and passed to me by his wife, Lana for Roy  -- who would miss out regardless. Handed them to Patsy. She ate them while Doug and I and Willard got onto more pressing matters.

"So, Doug, have you found out anymore about that 1928 Colt automatic pistol that shoots ,25 caliber bullets? " Turns out he had -- and a whole lot more of the Doug Encyclopedia of random information began to spill out. All over the floor -

Doug Davis
So,  it seems the pistol is a miniature exact replica of the famous 45 cal. 1911 model which to this day can be bought brand new from several manufacturers. I then explained to Doug how this was the model I trained on in the Navy back in 1971. Had watched a film of a marine in Vietnam using one in a firefight in the jungle.  The pajama clad enemy jumped out of the jungle set on a movie lot somewhere and began to swing his rifle off his shoulder to the marine. The marine took his time to carefully draw his 1911 and carefully aim his pistol just like they teach you in the school ... controlled breathing (in-out) ... as if an instructor was on the movie set with him - calling the shots (so to speak).  And with the narration going on about careful aim and slow squeeze of the trigger - the marine got off ONE solid, very noisy and accurate movie shot at the enemy actor who dropped immediately into the flowing movie set stream and died (efficient inventory control of Navy bullets "One shot, one dead communist").  So ... yes, I know about the famous 1911. And at the time - I qualified "expert" with it.

But I digress.

Doug went on to explain that those Colt pistols were actually invented by Browning who had contracted to Colt.  He said Browning also contracted to Remington.  He designed tremendous shotguns and had Remington make them for him. Doug explained that he has a Browning shotgun direct from the Browning factory in Belgium - where his aunt got it in 1953.  It seems Remington made Browning shotguns for them until the President of Remington died and the new president did not like Mr. Browning. So Browning ended up getting a factory together over in Belgium back in the twenties (I think).  That factory fell into Nazi hands in WWII but after the war it went back to Browning and began making shotguns again and THAT is how Doug's aunt wound up with one for her husband.

Doug then told on his dad, Willard, who when he was a teenager, got hold of his dad's prized 12 gauge and was told by his dad to NEVER fire that thing -- "it will knock you down".  It was a single barrel, made by an obscure company called J.S. Arms - using heavy "armory steel" in 1915. The gun is this very year, ONE HUNDRED years old (and actually has cobwebs in the barrel). How it came into the possession of Willard is a story.  His dad, "S.S." (Sling Shot) Davis was 21 in 1915 and he spent $20 to buy this shotgun, an arsenal of shells for it and shells for a new .22 caliber squirrel gun he got the same day, his birthday present to himself.   These two guns were in the family as prized possessions even years after he married, except at some point the .22 was lost in an unforgivable
Willard Davis
exchange of property.

It seems the little .22 rifle did well until a spring broke and it needed to be replaced.  "Sling Shot" had mentioned publicly the hammer had to be manually set and released and was irritated about it.  He had an order in to Sears in Dothan for a ten cent spring to fix it but none of THIS information was transferred to the family conversation.  The very day "Sling Shot" went to Dothan to get the spring, a rolling store came by the house -- which I think at that time may have been near the towns of Esto and Noma - North of Bonifay Florida.

I know this because Doug once told me that "Sling Shot" (his grandpa) and migrated over to this county 100 miles distant back in the 1930's. It was the same time my mom's family - the Carswells made that migration. They all did that because they had word from a fellow neighbor - Mr. Marvin Lee who came "out West" earlier and found superb farmland.  Marvin Lee settled on Jessie Allen Road near Allentown.  The Carswells found a place to buy near the current UF Agricultural Experiment Station on Hwy 182 - and "Sling Shot" was coaxed into a nice spread closer to Chumuckla on Hwy 182.  So the point is a lot of these people knew each other for years but migrated almost simultaneously to a bit more easterly location, away from where the soil had about "played out".  They were thrilled to find good farmland in our County.

The Rolling Store had some things in it that Mrs. Davis was eager to have. The "broken .22 rifle" was something she could trade. So for a sack of flour, the .22 was given in trade  .... just as "Sling Shot" was finding the ten cent spring cure in Dothan (the nearest large town to Noma).

Willard said every time the .22 rifle was mentioned in his lifetime again - his face would glow with anger over the loss of his precious gift to himself on his twenty first birthday. When Willard was a teenager, he allowed curiosity to get the best of him and when the family was absent -  he took the 12 gauge single barrel J.S. Arms shotgun down from the wall and took it out to fire it.  Afterwards, he picked himself up and dusted off and carefully replaced the shotgun on the wall and never told them about it until long after he was married himself.  It's a family legend.

Find Chumuckla  (39)
"Sling Shot" died about 1987. He was 21 in 1915. So he lived to about 93 years old ... which Willard explains,led to another failed investment.  After moving to Chumuckla in the thirties, "Sling Shot" felt he needed life insurance to cover his fledgling farm mortgage and life needs for his young family in case he was to die. A  Fellow named Amos from Jay had moved to Milton and opened up a dime store there.  "Sling Shot" got a $1000 policy there for $33/year.  As it turns out, because of his very long life, he never got the full return on the policy.  Over time he spent over $1700 for his $1000 policy -which AFLAC paid out to Donnie Sowell's funeral home when "Sling Shot" died.   It seems Amos' insurance business in Milton was the seed for an institution that sprouted to great success over in Columbus, Georgia.  American Family Life of Columbus has an annoying duck -- (AFLAC) probably purchased with the honest profits from providing Life Insurance for "Sling Shot" who lived too long to get all his money back.

But he couldn't take it with him anyway. Right?

It turns out I saved back some peanuts for Roy. They were in a bag in the truck. I left WIllard and Doug, with Patsy. Miriam is back in the hospital  ( in Jay ) today with an infection that makes her hallucinate and talk in delirium. I hope she gets some relief.  She and Willard and Doug and Doug's sisters, Brenda and Sandra are among my favorite people in the world.

NOV 3 2015 - Vic Campbell  vic@buzzcreek.com
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