Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bullets Over Long Island

I have an Uncle.  His name is Ronnie.  Ronnie is fabulously eccentric, but in the most endearing way. When I was a little girl, Ronnie was my constant companion.  Whenever he came over to visit the family, I thought he was there just for me.  I would run out the door before he could even reach the walkway, grab his hand, drag him back to his car and start barking orders at him.  Take me for ice cream!  Take me to the park!  Most adults would try to talk sense into a child and tell them "Maybe later, I want to see everyone" but not Ronnie.  He would just shake his head and laugh all the way back to the car and we would take off.

Some of my best childhood memories are centered around my adventures with Uncle Ronnie.  Ronnie taught me some important life lessons in extremely inappropriate ways.  For instance, Ronnie taught me how to drive.  He was a very patient and thorough teacher, explaining how to ease the gas and brake and not to take a bend in the road too sharply. Of course he taught me all of this when I was 7.  I would be tooling down the road, barely able to see over the wheel and people would catch a glimpse of the top of my pony tailed head and double-take, some even swerved off the road.

The same thing went for shooting.  He taught me many critical lessons about gun safety...while I was firing guns at the gun range.  I fired pistols and rifles so powerful that they knocked me back and bruised my shoulder.  I never did develop a love for guns, but I can can handle one if necessary.  I am the big winner when a carnival rolls into town. No really, you should see me go.  I win all the crappy stuffed animals. Life skills, man.

A lifelong gun collector, Ronnie amassed a stockpile of guns that would rival the average military base.  So when he became unable to live alone anymore, the issue of what to do about Ronnie's guns and the closet full of ammo that went along with them became a very real concern.  Ronnie was also a coin collector.  He had containers full of silver dollars and half dollars stacked in the closets in his house.  So here we were with the conundrum of what to do with all the coins and all the weaponry.

The first order of business was to get rid of the handguns while Ronnie's pistol license was still in force.  This should have been simple, except Ronnie's house was a certifiable disaster and his once laser sharp memory had started to haze over a bit and he could not recall exactly where the license was.  The fact that Ronnie's house was 45 miles away from where he currently lived compounded the problem of the missing license.   It took three separate 90 mile round trips to finally find the paperwork necessary to initiate the sale. On the third trip, the license was finally found.  On each of these trips, we started taking the coins out of the house.

In true Ronnie fashion, the coins were stashed all over the house in two pound Polly-O Ricotta containers and Breyer's Sherbet containers, so they were heavy and not exactly the most discreet thing to remove from the house.  At no point were we interested in having the neighbors come out to see us hauling weapons and money out of the house.  It took countless early morning and evening trips to empty the house of all his coins and guns.  We then we had to sort out the valuable ones and haul the remainder to the Coinstar machine to cash them in.  There were marathon sessions at the Coinstar machine with angry people in line behind us cursing us under their breath.  It was much easier to get rid of the guns.

I suppose that you could say that all went well with the process, except for the time that we discovered that one container of coins was actually a container of 44 Magnum bullets.  I opened the sherbet container expecting to see half dollars, instead it and it was loaded to the top with shiny copper and brass bullets.  My heart leaped out of my chest in a state of intense panic. I was already home. This meant I had to store them until I could make another 90 mile round trip to his house to return them.  I was in even more panic when I finally actually drove them back to his house, fearing that my car would get rear ended and the impact would engage all the primers and I would end up going out in a hail of bullets.  I have rejected a life of crime just to avoid that exact scenario.  Not sure how your obit would read in this situation - "Here lies DG, she didn't used to look like Swiss cheese".   Lucky for me we returned the ammo safely, no hail of bullets, no Swiss cheese.

Now a days, it's me that picks Ronnie up to go on adventures, and he's the one who shouts the orders at me - "Turn down the air-conditioning!" "Take me to my house to get my coins !" "Turn off the radio!" .  I just shake my head and laugh all the way to the car and we take off.  Just like the good old days.





Monday, July 11, 2016