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Adventures In Bluing

blued gunI’ve always liked fine blued firearms.  Even though my corrosive sweat destroys them when I’m within six feet of one. :-)

Had a friend years ago who picked up a Colt LW Commander for $125 (This was the 70’s).  The slide was in bad need of refinishing.  He spent hours with steel wool and degreaser, followed by a cheap cold blue.  (Birchwood Casey?)  Never got it to look right, and later traded it for an early S&W model 60.  (Which I later acquired:-) then had stolen😦  )

I spent years touching up my various blued firearm and parts with cold bluing and bluing pens (and scratches on alloy frames with oxide pens!)  Never seemed able to get bluing solution of a quality formula (this was pre-Internet).  I did hear there was one Canadian formula, though.  It was like the Holy Grail of bluing!

Years later, a gunnie friend was helping a neighbor with her recently-deceased husband’s firearms.  He’d a 50’s vintage Colt Python that had developed some rust issues in storage.  We cleaned her up and applied a good cold blue.  It was like color-changing steel magic!  Colt metallurgy was excellent!  (Of course, it probably ruined the value the unadulterated gun would have received.)

My own NM 1911 (The Bob Hall Signature Model) had a blued slide that had been dinged-up and developed some rust and pitting.  The frame was a stainless Vega – no issues there.  I tried cold bluing a number of times, but was never happy with the result.  Eventually, I coughed up significant funds ($200, in 1983?) and had Robbie Barkman work his magic, coating the whole gun in Poly-T and putting NP3 on the internals and mechanicals.

She looks worn on the edges today, but still runs 20K+ rounds later.  All I do is change out the recoil spring every 3K rounds, or so, and keep her lubed with lithium grease.

And nary a rust issue to be seen!  :-)

RIP Bob Hall

bhall1It is with a heavy heart that I must report to you the passing of Robert H. ‘Bob’ Hall.

Like some folks, Bob was one of my ‘newer’ friends.  We met when he interviewed me for a private investigation position at Tom Ezell & Associates, in 1981.

I had applied because I had been working for other P.I. firms, and wanted to get the requisite three years under my belt to obtain my own license.  I saw an ad in the paper and called.  Jack Wheeler answered, and I thought I had the job!

Jack had been the salesman for Burns Security when I worked there as the assistant security supervisor (lieutenant), so we knew each other.  But Jack said it would be inappropriate for him to hire me without the chief investigator interviewing me, so I was introduced to Bob.  We became colleagues almost immediately, and fast friends.

You see, about five minutes into the interview, it was determined that Bob had attended high school with one Mary R.  The same Mary R. I had married a year previously!  They grew up in the same neighborhood.  Bob also had a serious firearms fetish, as did I.  He just had more firepower than me.  Like legal full-auto stuff! (including an M60 and MAC-10, both of which he no longer owns.)

And thus began our friendship.  He sold me my favorite 1911 ‘Bobbie’, aka The Bob Hall Signature Model, in 1983.  She still works and I still own (and sometimes carry) her.  We have been shooting together, on-and-off, ever since.

He married, fathered two terrific girls, and moved on to run his own P.I. agency.  In the 90’s, he also became the general manager of Legendary Guns of The West, a store where I hung out, purchased many firearms, and even worked part time.

Bob was one of my closest friends.  He taught me, as he taught his girls, not to take life too seriously.  Oft times, my phone would ring, and there would be Bob on the line, not ID-ing himself, but quoting the Firesign Theatre or Monty Python out-of-context!  “Shine-sheen.  A little Egyptian! Chanting a stream of ancient Egyptian holograms – hieroglyphs, that’s it!” or “We dreamed of living in a hallway – we lived in a cardboard box!”  Then he would get to the heart of the call – “let’s go shooting, or I’ve got a gun here I know you’d like…”

Bob’s health had been failing in the past couple of years (as recounted in these pages).  First diabetes took the lower half of his left leg, then esophageal gastric erosion devolved into cancer, which after chemo and radiation treatments were performed, won.

I remember him for his unwavering support of two family members and one friend through their battles with addiction, his gifting his father with an M2 – just like the one he carried in The War, and his pride in his daughters.  Both college graduates, one now on the cusp of getting her doctorate in clinical psychology from Northwestern!  Her focus is on veterans with PTSD!  Both are responsible firearms owners.

I know it’s a truism that the older we get, the more ‘this’ appears to happen.  Life isn’t fair!  Dammit, Bob, I still have the two books from Brigid I promised you!  (He refused visitors, not wanting them to see him in his emaciated state.)

Goodbye, and Godspeed, my brother.

I Love You!

little Bobby (courtesy of Robyn Hall Galbraith)

Little Bobby (courtesy of Robyn Hall Galbraith)

Simple Dreams

As with art (and so many other things) I may not know it, but I know what I like.

And I like love Linda Ronstadt!

In the early 1970’s, Dave (the genius mechanic) introduced me to Linda Ronstadt’s music.  Being a lonely guy in my 20’s, her torchy rock (a term coined by Time magazine) was just the ticket!  I bought and listened to many of her albums, and even was lucky enough to take a fine blond lady named Ali to her concert here, at the Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, in 1979.

In the late 70’s Playboy magazine called her “the best White pipes in the business.”  I agree.

Like so many other entertainment types, unfortunately, she chose the platform built by her music to expound on things political.  She even dated Jerry Brown for a while.

But, her music continued to soar, and she kept experimenting.  From popular standards (with Nelson Riddle arranging!) to Gilbert and Sullivan and even La Boheme!

I don’t get the opportunity to acquire CDs as I used to, and have never gotten used to digital music.  So it saddened me to learn that she is suffering from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and now Parkinson’s disease.

She retired from singing and can no longer perform, in 2009.

She has written a musical autobiography, entitled Simple Dreams, which good friend Biff just gifted me.  It details her musical education, growth and evolution, from her Mexican-emigre’ family in Tucson, to her Malibu beach house and beyond.  And encounters with musical partners from the guys who later formed The Eagles, to Dolly Parton and even Frank Sinatra!

If she interests you, I highly recommend the book.  It would be considered name-dropping, if she weren’t so talented.

(FTC – I get nothing except musical entertainment from Ms. Ronstadt!)

Four Years Ago, Today

markabell2We lost MARK BELL.

My co-worker, shooting student, sounding board, reminder of things good, bon vivant, and loyal friend.

We had just attended Kevin Baker’s blogshoot the previous Sunday, and had spoken on the telephone, yesterday (four years ago – I cannot believe it’s been four years!).

Then his beloved wife Cathy called me tomorrow (four years ago) to tell me he had dropped dead from a heart attack suddenly yesterday.

Having almost lost Walter recently, this may be a little maudlin.

I don’t care.

PLEASE, tell the ones you love that you love them, and hug them, if at all possible.

Because you never know.

Glenn Frey, RIP

The passing recently of David Bowie definitely got my attention, even though I wasn’t a big fan – in any of his incarnations.  (Sorry)

But yesterday, finding out that a founder of The Eagles had passed.  Well, Universe, this is  over-the-top!

As we age, we seem to see more of this – people who are part of our youth, our lives, passing into eternity.

Personal family and friends aside, these bookmarks in the story of our lives remind of us specifics in our past, and of the eventual future for all of us.

R.I.P. Good Sir!

 

 

A Christmas Tradition

When my marriage was winding down, my wife and I separated.  And we eventually got divorced.

It’s only by the grace of God we remained friends.  (And remain so to this day!:-) )

The separation was longer than most.  Eight years.  But, we lived apart, shared custody of Molly, equally (alternate weeks, with one alternate day in the middle.)  And living a little more than a mile apart, it ‘worked’.

But, initially, when she told me she wanted to separate, pain aside, it occurred to me that I wanted to do something extra special at Christmas for our daughter.

Because.

And I found these art pieces of little girls interacting in their world, by Frances Hook.

And determined I could probably afford one each holiday season, as a special gift to Molly.

Sometimes, getting funds together for toys, clothes and such was difficult.  And the statuettes were an additional hardship.

But, I managed.

And she seemed to appreciate them, even when the tradition began, when she was age 5.

birdie

The first one was entitled “Birdie”.  I got it because I remembered her chasing sparrows in the park, trying to get one to light on her finger.   Calling out “Birdie, birdie!”

And so it was to pass she received a different one each year for Christmas.  It was nice as we all continued to share Christmases together.

But, Christmas 1994 found me having difficulty finding another Frances Hook porcelain statuette with a little girl in it that she didn’t already have.  Eventually, I did find one, though.

And I found out the reason for the dearth of sculptures.  It seemed, the artist had passed away the year Molly was born – 1983.  And in 1994, the porcelain figurines stopped production.

We lost Molly the next March.

I wonder if somehow The Universe had made the connection.

When In Danger, Or In Doubt, Part Dos

From Oath Keepers (David Codrea)…

ScreenHunter_03 Dec. 15 19.25

An email threat resulting in the closure of all Los Angeles Unified School District schools was apparently a hoax,The Los Angeles Times is reporting. Even had it not been, the incident illustrates how government infringing on rights does nothing but deprive Americans of freedom, and that the promised security in exchange for forced sacrifice is the most damaging fraud of all.

“The email mentioned explosive devices, assault rifles and pistols and was traced to an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany, according to law enforcement sources,” the report elaborates. That gives us some clues at least.

We know it wasn’t by any of the  hated “homegrown extremists” (like Oath Keepers!) the government would like everyone to believe poses the real terror threat. And noting Chancellor Angela Merkel’s affinity for culturally terraforming her homeland in a way Allied and Soviet bombing, invasion and occupation could not, there’s a chance the perp was one of those jihadists government “leaders” in the West all seem determined to welcome in and then lose track of.

Still, say the threat had been domestic and real – what then?  How does forcing Americans to surrender their right to due process and their right to keep and bear arms to a secret ‘terror watchlist” make anyone any safer?  If the government knows they’re a danger, charge them and hold a trial, with a presumption of innocence and the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt on the state.  And if they’re foreign terror suspects, how does allowing them to remain here and move freely among us help “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”?

In fact, there’s good reason to believe the whole point of that move is simply to provide another inroad for citizen disarmament, with those whose goal is to uphold fidelity to the Constitution and restore adherence to the chains of delegated powers libeled as “anti-government extremists.” The point is to disarm patriots, and not just by creating a “no buy” list, but by following that up with confiscations.

A truism I use regularly is that with “progressives,” every day is Opposite Day. Orwell described it as “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength,” and such lies are the foundation of every totalitarian regime.  Maintaining the lies requires demonizing and thus dehumanizing those who are deemed an inconvenience to the planned order of things, those who must be eliminated. So naturally, the “solution” of importing millions from cultures inimical and even fanatically hostile to ours, ramping up the police state and maintaining increased levels of citizen disarmament along with more “gun free zones” is the mandate imposed. And anyone who objects is derided as a throwback, a racist, a coward who needs guns to make up for masculine shortcomings, a lunatic and a threat.

What was the solution offered by the Founders? Government limited to delegated powers. All exercise of those powers must advance the very reasons those powers were delegated in the first place: “[T]o form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

And as for what was needed when the Republic came under attack, they were pretty specific there, too.

How would that stop a hostile phone call coming in from Germany?

No system devised by man will ever be perfect. But security and freedom need not be mutually exclusive. Were the Founders’ vision the norm, schools and all places in the U.S. would be safer. It would be a freer place, with attendant accountability of those who make it less so, the criminals both in and out of government.

And as for the rest of the world?  Freedom produces a powerful example to emulate, and powerful incentives to do so. And again the wisdom of the Founders proves timeless and true.

“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world”: George Washington proclaimed in his Farewell Address.

“Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none,” Thomas Jefferson echoed in his inaugural address.

We can see the miserable, freedom-destroying results of our “leaders” doing the opposite.  Anybody feel safer as a result?

I remember being in junior high school in the mid-60’s.  Seventh and Eighth Grades.  And maybe two, three times a year, some yahoo would either call in a bomb threat, or pull the fire alarm.  Because he’d a test scheduled that day he didn’t study for.

And we would dutifully file out of classes to the playground.  The teachers would take roll, and keep us more-or-less orderly, and when the ‘threat’ had been dealt with, we were allowed to return to the classrooms.

EVERYONE understood the nature of these ‘threats’, and there were never any fires or bombs found.

But, the world has changed.  There are now real threats.  In the past month (in my area) suspicious packages were found and dealt with.  One was a suitcase on the light rail platform, another a bright, yellow backpack on the freeway.

NOTHING came of either, because they were composed of lost luggage and a missing backpack!

If the point of terrorism is to destabilize society through death and destruction, and the threat of potential death and destruction (or even the appearance of same), then the terrorists have won.

Star Wars Memories

force

With all the hype regarding the opening of the latest in the Star Wars saga, I hearkened back to my first experience.  Or rather the second.

And one of a relative’s…

Way back in 1977 (can it be that long ago?) a movie named Star Wars was released.  I think I eventually went and saw it alone.  And, of course, I was blown away.

This was in Phoenix’ premiere Cinerama theater – The Cine’ Capri.  The wide screen, formal theater-sized experience.  Red velvet curtains and all.

My sister had taken her daughter, then age 5, to the show.  And both damn near had heart-failure when a hulking Darth Vader appeared behind them to menace the theater-goers in line for tickets!

I had been dating a woman named Ardith on-and-off for a while.  She was an Army vet, liked guns and Italian food.  She was a terrific kisser.  And was mad for science fiction. Especially Star Trek.  And thought Star Wars was some kind of cheesy rip off.  (She even had pencil nudes of Spock she bought at an early sci-fi convention – but that’s for another post.  On second thought, no, it’s not…)

I attended the showing stag because she had been unconvinced it was worthy of been seen.

Eventually, I convinced her.

And, being the prepared woman she was, she brought her ‘purse’. Essentially a duffel bag!

Lined with plastic – containing massive quantities of fresh, buttered popcorn and a six pack of cold beer!

What a terrific way to watch a movie in Cinerama with THX sound!  (We just had to wait for the loud parts to pop the pop tops!:-)  )

Ardith and I stopped seeing each other, and moved on with our lives.  I married, became a father and I only saw two later sequels.

Then I kinda lost interest in the whole Star Wars thing.

Guess I got older…

Gotta go – it’s nap time.

PS – Han shot first!

The Cavalier Players

I was in high school, active in the (award-winning) choir, and in The Mystic Crystal (the magic club). And one of the kids in the neighborhood pointed me in the direction of an amateur troop of kids who performed free.  For people who needed entertainment.

And I thought what the heck.

They were called The Cavalier Players.  Founded by a quintessential stage mother to get her daughter’s (marginal) dance talents exposed further, they performed free for anyone who would have them.

And I signed up.

I remember many elder care facilities, some like Phoenix’s The Beatitudes – the top of the spectrum. Others where the only thing in memory was the smell of urine.

And one Thanksgiving at the St. Vincent De Paul dining hall, packed to the brim with the unfortunate.

Other members included dancers, singers, gymnasts, and piano players.  On one occasion, the tape deck with needed music broke, so (Geez!  What the hell was her name?) the stage mom stepped out on stage, announced “I-AM-THE-ORCHESTRA!” and began humming so the dancer could continue with her performance!

Another time, Debbie J. (a gymnast) performed the splits, but had not stretched sufficiently.  She reached the bottom of her split, but was unable to come back up.  And began screaming and crying.  The EMTs were called.  She had torn some ligaments.  YIKES!

Being a magician, my only faux pas were dropping my concealed handcuff key (loudly, on a wooden stage), and having one of my juggling balls bounce off the stage toward the audience.

At least I was able to exit the stage, pick up the ball in mid-bounce and continue juggling!  I was much more mobile and faster, then.

I performed with them a couple years in high school.  It did teach me a little about the less fortunate, and about the show going on.

We even made the local paper, with a photo!  Sadly, in the pre-digital age, my likeness was over-done with ink, making me appear as a minstrel show player!  Not very cavalier…

The stage mom and her daughter moved a couple years later.  I never saw them again – guess the daughter never ‘made it’?

And Yes, Another David!

(See – I told you!)

My Life’s friendships are made up of many folks.  But an inordinate number (for whatever reason) are named either Bob (Robert) or David (Dave)!

Who knows why?

I was walking to McClintock High School to attend a Summer School session (having missed my first Freshman semester because of the onset of my leg disability) and wanting to complete high school in 3 1/2 years to stay with my class.

Turned out, a number of other Tempe High students were also attending McClintock’s Summer Session. And walking more-or-less the same way to school.

Conversations ensued.  It was about a mile-and-a-half from my house, and an 0700 start time, so it was early, ‘cooler’ (AZ summertime) and we were bored kids.

And friendships developed.  One was with David M., who had to walk an additional 1/2 mile to get to where I was.  Not to be confused with Dave the genius mechanic, or David the artist college-roommate.

And we walked together to Summer School, and back on the return trip.  And became fast friends.

David was smart, funny, musically-talented (playing piano by sound!).  He was a school A/V guy and a photographer.  And we both liked the same stuff.  Magic tricks, philosophy and girls.

Not necessarily in that order.

And it was David who introduced me to the Firesign Theatre and Cheech & Chong!

And I introduced him to the magic club.  And other the neighborhood guys became his friends, as well.

We palled around together all through high school, and into college.

His parents were divorced, and his mother was religiously conservative.  She seemed to like me, but objected to the magic club, as there were things just not right there (in her mind.)  She called playing cards The Devil’s pasteboards!

I remember both of us liking to listen to Jethro Tull.  His dad was putting an addition on his house, and we used to sit in the unfinished rooms (for the acoustics) to play flute.  I, self-taught with a rented one – he bought his and could play rings around me.  Accompanying Jethro Tull’s Aqualung, again, with David playing by ear!  He even held it wrong (not knowing any better) – both hands facing backward (fife-like) – and could STILL sound better!  And actually play!

He was going to marry once.  They canceled it at the last minute – I never did find out why.

And, as with many other friends, we drifted apart.

He has a common last name, and I’ve been unable to re-connect with him via social media for this reason.

Wherever he is, I wish him well!

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…

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