Revenge is Best Served Hot
On the ides of March (or there abouts) in 1967, my friend Bill Griggs suggested that we attend a gun show in Snyder, Texas. Where we lived in Lubbock was just 85 miles away and it was Saturday, so I said okay. Driving down I promised myself that I wouldn’t spend much money, primarily because I didn’t have much money to spend.
Both Bill and I were expert western history shoppers, and surely we would know some of the dealers and collectors who would be in attendance. It promised to be a fun day.
I was walking up and down between display tables, minding my own business, and taking everything in. Then, on Bob Algee’s table, I spotted a beautiful old holster. It had been made by a Navajo Indian to fit a Colt 1860 Model Army pistol. I recognized it immediately and it was love at first sight. But it was 200 bucks. So I started arguing with myself. What I had going against buying it was my promise not to spend much money. But I owned a beautiful 1860 Model Army pistol with ivory grips that needed a holster. Desire superseded my promise and I told Bob, “I’ll take this holster, but let me leave it here for a minute while I look at other things on your table.” He had a long table that was full of wonderful things that I also couldn’t afford.
When I glanced back at Bob he was working with another client and they were stacking artifacts up in a pile. And my holster was sitting right on top. I hurried back and said, Bob, just a minute, that’s my holster and I’m ready to take it.”
“Well, this gentleman is buying a few things from me and I told him he could have it.” Bob had finality written across his face, he was bigger than me and could probably run faster. So I said “gulp,” and turned to the new owner.
“Is the holster for sale?”
“Yes it is.”
“How much do you want for it?”
“Two hundred and fifty bucks.”
“Take it or leave it, I don’t have all day.”
“I’ll take it,” and I wrote him a check.
On the way home I felt terrible. Breaking a promise was bad enough, but breaking one with myself was truly awful.
My 1860 Model Army looked really great in the new holster.
About 30 days later Bob appeared at my foundry door. His “wonderful” wife Hilda had made “A nice little art object and I want you to cast it in 30 copies. She wants to give one to each of her friends for Christmas. It’s my gift to her.”
“Bingo,” I thought, and I added $50 to his cost of each bronze I made for him.
“I hope your wonderful wife Hilda will be happy with these castings.”
“I’m sure she will be.”
It cost me $50 when he was unethical and sold the holster out from under me, but he paid me back 30-fold, and he never knew it happened. I was reminded of a rule I made for myself when I was 9 years old, “Don’t make the alligator mad until you’ve crossed the river.” I could hardly wait to tell Bill Griggs. f