Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Some Slips Of Paper Spur My Forgotten Memories Back To Life

For years now, I have been thinking that my second handgun purchase (my first was an RG pocket pistol in 25 caliber in Las Vegas in about 1977), a purchase made by me while I was in the Border Patrol, was a Beretta 70S in .22LR. I remembered wrong. The first pistol I bought for myself while I was in the Border Patrol, and thus my second [pistol purchase ever, was a Beretta Jetfire, aka: Beretta model 950BS. Buying that pistol led to me purchasing at least another two, although I seem to remember having at least 4 and maybe 5 of them over the years. You might think that repeatedly buying them must have been due to problems with each pistol but I can assure you, while some developed problems they were due to user screw ups, me being the user. Only one had a problem that was caused by the manufacturer and that was the first Jetfire that I bought.

I would not have remembered most of that, in fact did not remember, until I went through a few boxes of documents and other memorabilia; two I brought home from my office when I retired back in 2011 and one that I had put into my garage shortly before 9/11 (what a blessing as it contained virtually all of my award and training certificates up to that date). Another of the boxes contained some more recent memorabilia since 9/11 and some other training and award certificates, the third contained mostly documents like payroll sheets, official travel records (I think listing most of my government travel) a copy of my personnel folder, work memos concerning me, and other things like that. It also contained tax records from the early eighties through the early nineties. I had meant to go through it all soon after retirement but I was ill at the time (cancer) and could not get it done, then I simply forgot all about the three boxes after my son put them up in the loft of our garage. Add to that me being the great procrastinator and it might never have gotten done except that I was reminded of them recently in a roundabout way and decided to go through them and sort out what I would need or want to keep and what I would trash.

The most interesting box for me was the one with mostly documents because it contained several surprise finds of hidden treasure. Oddly enough, those treasured find were old receipts for thing I had purchased back in the 1980's - mostly things I bought while a Border Patrol Agent. Old paper may be mere ephemera to some but to me, what I found,  was more valuable than gold because of the memories that the stirred up from my past. Memories that had been long since forgotten were awakened again and remembering them brought a fair amount of happiness to me.


One of those old pieces of paper was a copy of a letter I had written to Bolsa Gunsmiths about a Beretta (950BS Jetfire that I was sending to them for warranty repair. The trigger pins would work its way loose each time I fired 40-50 rounds through it. I had contacted Beretta and they told me that Bolsa Gunsmiths was their west coast repair facility. Where I had thought that the 70S was the first pistol I had bought once I had commenced my federal career, I was dead wrong. It was that little Beretta that I bought on August 20, 1981. They fixed it and sent it back to me. I recall now that what they did was peened the trigger pin so the problem would not recur. They must have done excellent work over the years since then because it appears they are still in business today, see:

http://www.bolsagunsmithing.com/index.html.

I also found two receipts for Beretta Jetfires but both of those receipts were dated in 1982 and thus were not for that first one. That got me to reminiscing and I remembered that because of the pin having to be peened to remain in place, I had decided to sell that first Jetfire. I don't remember to whom I sold it though.

Right after I sold it, I bought another. That second one was not long to be mine either. I owned for just over a month and sold it. I am not 100% certain but am pretty sure that second one is the one I had in my pocket over the course of a few days, while working in the area of a bunch of Salt Cedars. I was in and out of the brush several times while pretty sweaty, in fact while soaked from perspiration. That was in April and May 1982 - average temperatures for Calexico, CA in those months is in the high 80's to high 90s. I had oiled up the little blaster pretty well and thought nothing of it, was cleaning it once a week or so. After a few days of being in those salt cedars though, the last day being particularly hot and me soaked by sweat, I pulled the Jetfire out of my pocket at the end of the day to find rust frosted on all the exterior steel parts.

It cleaned up fair to middling and it remained serviceable but I wanted none of it so I listed it for sale in a local paper. I bought yet my third Jetfire in May1982 before I had even sold the second one. That second one was sold, the following month, to a gal from Calipatria, CA. Sometime before October 1983, when I left the Border Patrol, I had two police officers visit me to ask me about that sale. If I remember right (and don't quote this as gospel) the gals husband had shot someone with it or she shot him or something along those lines. Legal shooting, as I remember, but rather unsettling to have the police come to my home telling me someone was shot with a gun I had sold and they wanted to interview me about it. They were professionals and nice guys, took a look at my receipt, asked a few questions, and left. Never heard more about it. I have had that sales receipt all these years, not in those three boxes, but among my firearms records. I had figured I should hold onto it, put it in with other firearms papers, and forgot all about it until I saw the letter about the repair of the Jetfire. Went through my firearms folder and there it was!

As for my third Jetfire, it accompanied me back to NY as best I can get out of the muddled, middle aged, little gray cells in my noggin. It went on a temporary work detail with me to Florida and one day I had to trudge through mangrove swamps in brackish water over the course of a couple of hours. Forgot all about that pistol in my pocket until I got back to my motel and was going to do the my laundry the next day. Well, I pulled it out of the still damp pants pocket to see the steel parts covered by rust. It is amazing how fast steel can rust when subjected to salty water, it was much worse than the one I had worn while in the salt cedars in Calexico. I cleaned it up an sold it to a buddy of mine who did not mind the fact it had been rusted and cleaned up since I gave it to him for a good price. I am pretty sure I picked up a fourth after that but not positive. I later bought a Beretta Model 21A in .22LR because the ammo was much less expensive than the .25 caliber ammunition that the Jetfires had used (I could be mistaking the fourth Jetfire for the 21A).

Getting back to the receipts that I found, in those boxes from work, I also came up with several others that really got the little gray cells to start firing off memories. I won't bore you with all the details like I probably just did above but will mention what some of them were for. There were at least 10 receipts from Yellow Mart Stores, I did a lot of business at their store in El Centro. Most of them show another address in a nearby town, cannot remember why that is but remember they were from the El Centro store. They had a darling of a gal working there, Lupe (short for Guadalupe) and she was a sweetheart. Too bad she was engaged at the time. I cannot recall one other person's name except maybe that the guy I dealt with mostly may have been named Bill or George or anything but Sue. There also several other receipts from other gun and sporting goods stores and some receipts for my cross country trip from Calexico to new York when I transferred to Customs in October of 1983.

As for the guns I purchased listed on those receipts, they were:

S&W Model 66, 4" barrel listed on a receipt from January 1982 (apparently the third handgun I ever purchased)

A Gerber Command One boot knife purchased in February 1982

Beretta Model 70S, bought only five days after the Gerber knife

Two Beretta Jetfires, the one bought in April and the other in May of 1982

My first Beretta 92SB, bought in June 1982 and soon sent in for a repair during which Beretta replaced the barrel and slide. Shortly after that, since a problem persisted with the safety, they replaced the entire pistol and I still have that one today in somewhat beat up condition.

Remington 870 Wingmaster, my first shotgun, bought in August 1983 sold it after I got married and have regretted it ever since)

Here are a few pics of those receipts:





There were other receipts for things like Border Patrol uniform shirts from Albert's Uniforms in San Diego (owned by a little old Jewish guy from NYC, imagine an atypical, mean and nasty, Louie Dumbrowski), Break Free and gun patches (I am guessing it was the same kind of Break Free I still use today), a Bianchi Askins Avenger holster for my 92-SB (the holster was lost in the WTC on 9/11 but replaced by my insurance company - exact same model all those years later), a receipt for a Beretta 92-SB magazine, several receipts for ammunition, one for a water jug, one for a Mag-Light, several for my trip back to NY when I changed agencies, one for a Customs badge wallet (my first) and a receipt for a money order for my 1984 NRA dues (yes, I have been an NRA member for a long time). One of the ammo receipts I found was from Albany NY in 1984, reminding me of a temporary assignment up that way to open a new investigations office for Customs. I threw out a lot of other receipts I found, some of them were travel receipts for that same cross country drive when I moved back east, from back when Motel 6 was $15.95 per night. Those receipts reminded me that I spent my first night of that trip, in a rest area, in my new sleeping bag, not far passed Green River, UT on Interstate 70. Despite having a quality sleeping bag rated for the 20s or teens, I froze my behind off. To think, when I left Calexico, on that same early October day, it was at in the 90s maybe even the low 100s. When I got to that rest area the temp was in the 30s and fell much lower than that overnight. It was all motel stays after that. By the way, I still have the sleeping bag.

There also were plane tickets for details to Secret Service assignments and there was a file full of many, many, tickets from when I flew as an Air Marshal after 9/11 (destroyed SS and FAM receipts by shredding them). There were some other receipts but none that stirred any more memories as had the ones already mentioned. It is amazing, at least to me, how those receipts, long forgotten, have turned into a treasure trove of sorts for me. For whatever reason I saved them, tax write-offs, firearms records, or whatever, I am the happier for having done so.

All the best,
Glenn B
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