Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bullets Over Ronnies House

From the files of beating a dead horse . . .




I know that my last post was about my crazy uncle Ronnie, but I feel the need to go back to the well on this topic. Thanks to all the great comments that I exchanged with all of you, I was flooded with memories that I need to put down in writing. So here's another one-



As I mentioned in my last post, Uncle Ronnie is a gun enthusiast. Last Christmas I got him a Winchester tin sign to hang in his garage that classifies all the different calibers of ammunition. Well, you'd have thought I gave him a friggin Renoir. He oohed and aaahed and gushed over this stupid thing like you can't imagine. Now to get the gravity of this behavior, you have to understand that he has never been sensitive about any one's feelings, ever. It is not uncommon for him to say things like "I didn't know you could give that as a gift." or to tell you that the food that you served him was a "grave disappointment". So if he's acting pleased, he's genuinely pleased. He is not armed with the social skills required to fake it.



The reason that I purchased that sign, was because of his love of guns and because of the time that I spent with him in his bullet factory.



Somewhere around 1971, Uncle Ronnie started purchasing bullet making machinery. This included loaders that put buckshot into empty shells, a gunpowder dispenser and a priming machine. The priming machine was really cool. It would tuck the little, nerd candy sized nib of gunpowder packed brass into the bullet casing. The primer is the little circle at the ass-end of the bullet that that the hammer of the gun strikes to start the explosion that propels the lead slug out of the brass bullet casing. OK, I am going to stop right here. I just read that sentence and scared the crap out of myself. Do you understand that I am imparting bullet making knowledge that I learned at the age of 8? Is this effed up, or what?



Uncle Ronnie also had a lead smelting pot and slug molds that he used to form his own lead slugs. That's right boys and girls, my brother and I used to sit up in his bullet making room drop lead ingots into a pot molten lead. Now I know why I can't do math.



Anywho, Uncle Ronnie would assign us a job, like reloading shotgun shells or whatever, then he would get us all set up and he'd leave to go clean his guns (which he does obsessively). Yup, he left us alone in his attic, surrounded by gunpowder, molten lead and dicey, 80 year old electrical wiring.





One day when we were happily loading shotgun shells, the machine jammed up. We called to Uncle Ronnie, but he was engrossed in attaching a new site to one of his rifles and he did not come upstairs right away. Left without shells to load, we got bored (like andy 8 and 5 year old might) and we started poking around on the work bench, looking at all the bullet supplies - the shiny, brass bullet casings, the rainbow of different colored shotgun shells, the various weights of buckshot, etc.. In my investigation, I came across a box of primers. They looked like candy, all lined up in jewel-like green plastic box. I took one out and inspected it under the work lamp. It was so tiny and cute. It hardly seemed dangerous to me.



Just then, Ronnie came up the stairs. When he saw that I had the box of primers out, he got very upset. He started telling me all about the function of a primer and that it was small, but very powerful. Almost like a tiny cap of dynamite. And with that he took the box and put it away. But I still had a primer in my hand and after getting the lecture from Uncle Ronnie about not handling them, I was afraid to show him that I had one out of the box.



Ronnie got to work unjamming the shell loader while I shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, trying to think of how I could get rid of the primer in my hand. I decided to throw it on the workbench when uncle Ronnie turned away. I waited until he wasn't looking and I threw the primer toward the workbench. Well, in one of those "you couldn't have done that if you tried" moments, the primer landed in the pot of molten lead, just as Ronnie was bending over it to put in a new lead ingot.



All of a sudden we heard a muffled explosion, like a **BOUF** noise and Ronnie turned to look at me with molten lead spatter all over his glasses. "What did you throw in the lead pot?" he demanded. I looked down at my feet and sheepishly responded "a primer". This answer completely set him off and he started ranting and raving about how unsafe that was and what damage it could have done and what a fire hazard it was, etc.

Luckily, Uncle Ronnie did not sustain any injury in the accident. He managed to get the lead spray off his glasses and to get the tiny bits of lead out of his hair. The silver (or lead) lining to this story is that from that point forward, he always made sure to supervise us when we were in his bullet making factory and we remained safe and sound. That is until Christmastime when he let me play with his new pocket knife. . .

35 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

Noelle said...

box of ammo? $20
day spent with crazy uncle? priceless.

sounds like some good ol' fashioned leave it to beaver type of activities.

p.s. i have something for you...and no, it's not a box of primers. sorry. swing on by when you get a chance.

That One Mom said...

Oh my! That is something else! I have heard of people being "enthusiastic" about their firearms, but I don't think I know anyone that makes their own ammo.

singedwingangel said...

Ahh but see what is considered "dangerous" today was not so much in our day hun. We seems ot have been raised wit some form of gun safety preset by our families. I knew how to shoot by the ago of 10 and can still outshoot my cousins. But I don't own a gun. I know better then to even debate it lol.

Sara said...

I like that he left a bunch of kids alone with bullets and then yelled at you for being unsafe.

Yes, there is one in every family.

Mommy Lisa said...

WOW! And I thought my dad's uncle letting him drive the car while he ditch hunted at the age of eight was irresponsible.

knittergran said...

Wow! Do you have childhood memories or what?!
I love how he gets so angry with YOU about how dangerous what you did was----what about HIM allowing all this to go on?
Great stories! In a weird way...

glitterbygrammie said...

Things are so much different for kids now a days. It makes me sad to think that most kids will never get to experience an Uncle Ronnie. I had an Uncle Al.

sarah said...

wow, i wish i'd had that kind of an uncle growing up. but nooo, everyone's gotta be all PC these days and all "don't put your kids in danger," and all that. how uneventful.

MiMi said...

I love how he rants at you about being unsafe while leaving an 8 and 5 year old in his BULLET MAKING FACTORY. :)
By the way...that sentence that scared you? It's probably landed you on the FBI watchlist for weapon making websites. LOL!

Stereos and Souffles said...

Holy hilarious!

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

People used to know how to have a good time... And kudos to your folks for trusting Uncle Ronnie with the kids!

Working Mommy said...

LOL!! A gun sign...I'm surprised he hasn't shot a hole in it yet - or HAS he?!

~WM

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Noelle – Yeah, in a weird, totally irresponsible way, it was kind of priceless. Dang! No primers?

That One Mom – Yeah, guns and their accessories are a passion amongst the men on my dad’s side of the family. Luckily, I never adopted the love.

Singed Winged Angel – You are so right. Different times. Might as well have been the stone age, it was so different.

Mommy Lisa – Ditch hunting? That is something that I have never heard of (which is truly a shocker considering my background).

Sara – He’s definitely our one. There are other characters to be sure, but they are marginally crazy. Ronnie goes the whole 9 yards of batshit.

KnitterGran - Yeah, I have a million Uncle Ronnie stories. I think that might have been one of the few lessons that old Ronnie ever learned where we were concerned.

GlitterbyGrammie –It just goes to show you, kids don’t have to follow in the footsteps of their adult role models.
Sarah - Just as well. I look at some of the experiences that I have had as just being lucky to have survived them.

Mimi – I didn’t think of that. I don’t want anybody to think I am a militia member. I don’t even own a gun.

Stereos and Souffles – Thanks. It’s mind blowing to me in retrospect.

LPR – Yeah, I wish that I could tell you that they were usually four martinis in when they sent me off with Uncle Ronnie, but they were totally lucid. I think I need to get in my mother’s face on Christmas eve over her woeful lack of judgement.

Working Mommy – The only holes that I know of are the holes that we kids shot in his basement walls when he mistakenly loaded real bullets in his gun instead of rubber bullets (for indoor target shooting).

Monique-aka-Surferwife23 said...

Wow. Just wow. All my uncle ever did was go to jail, have 9 kids, three of whom are his 'illigits' and drink a lot of beer.

Uncle Richard probably shot some of those bullets that Uncle Ronnie made. :)

Amy said...

That? Is a fantastic story and I want to attend your cousin's Christmas every year from now on! I can be that 3rd cousin from the south no one knew about.

Ahhh, DG....just think of the possibilities;)

Carol said...

I think I would enjoy learning the in's and out's of bullet making. Sounds almost more fun than playing with Barbies.

linlah said...

The detail in what you know about reloading does not come as a surprise to me. My dad used to pays us to collect used tire balancing weights for his reloading lead.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Monique - Whoa. Uncle Richard had his own thing going on.

Amy - Any time! It could only add to the atmosphere.

Carol - I was not a Barbie girl. I never had a chance.

Linlah - Ok, so armament is a family specialty for you as well. . .

Susan Fobes said...

I am laughing at this and I'm feeling really weird about it...

Marla said...

Holy Guacamole! Not to get personal but ... how many fingers do you have these days? Too funny!!

Arizona Mamma said...

Yeah...I'd say you just took the whole being around guns at a young age so you don't play with them and shoot people on accident thing to a whole nother level....and yes, I know that there was nothing gramatically correct about any of that comment.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Susan Fobes - It's ok to laugh - nobody got hurt.

Marla - Fair question. I'm still good for typing.

Arizona Mommy - Grammar is clearly not important at this site.

Insanitykim said...

Lead, silver...

You have GOLD here...get a book started...copyright your stuff. For serious.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Insanity Kim - Thanks. That's a good idea. I will look into the copyright.

KK said...

Ha, he deserved that one!

sarah said...

hey!

hope you had a great friday and are looking forward to a wonderful weekend!

in that spirit, head on over to my blog to check out the happy 101 award i gave you! :)

xoxo,

sarah

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Sarah - Thanks a million (or at least 101). I'm on my way over. . . .

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

KK - His actions burned him (no pun intended) many times over.

Aunt Juicebox said...

I loved this whole story! My daughter's dad is a gun enthusiast, and she's been shooting since she was about 7 or 8. As a result, I feel comfortable with her being around guns because they have always emphasized gun safety. I honestly think that should be a class offered in school. Gun safety, not shooting.

Aunt Becky said...

My uncle rules. But he's just a corvette guy, not a gun guy. Which is MUCH less dangerous.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Aunt Juicebox - Thank god for my dad for teaching me gun safety.

Aunt Becky - Corvettes are fun. I had an aunt (ronnie and my dad's sister) who had a sweet corvette and a lead foot.

kys said...

Uncle Ronnie is the Gift That Keeps On Giving. (To your readers anyway!)

miss jo said...

OMG !!! What a kid thing to do.. Uncle Ronnie's was definitely the place to hang. Were you the Annie Oakley of Long Island ?

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Kys - I've got a million of 'em.

Miss Jo - I am actually quite a shot, despite my complete and utter distaste for guns.

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