A glimpse into the life of R.C Hand

Guest writer for "The NZDream" blog

My father had fourteen brothers and sisters, seven of each gender. One of my aunts lived out on a long dirt road in Huntington Beach Ca. If it rained, you couldn't get to her house without a four-wheel vehicle.

She had run off with the milkman and had not been seen for a year or so at one point. But that is a different story.

We went to visit her as often as possible after she was finally relocated. She was pregnant, of course.

I had thirty-two first cousins that I know of. When the family got together, it was a real big deal.

My father always carried his gun in the car under the seat.

My middle brother was around fourteen at this time and he decided to show the gun off to our cousins on this particular visit. He held it in his hand and showed it to all of us for a real good look. It was a nice large.45 pistol. Like the cowboys used out west.

My aunt leased her ten acres out to an alfalfa farmer. He was out riding his tractor in the field as we gathered together to play and visit on this beautiful day.

My brother placed the gun on a fence post nearby and tracked the farmer with the gun for some time as we all watched in wonder.

We were all younger and had no idea that this was a bad thing. We were just kids and watching the gun fascinated us.

At some point, my brother took the gun off of the fence post to return it to the car and it went off in the direction of my aunt's house just across the narrow dirt road as he brought it down.

My aunt's house was barely a house. It was nothing more than a cardboard shack covered in asbestos shingles. The bullet had no difficulty passing through the laundry porch, kitchen, and living room and out into the field behind the house. The house was really just an old beach shack with a well and the tall windmill that goes with that type of country setup, but it was her home.

The bullet passed clean through the entire house above the heads of many of my uncles and aunts. The dust and flakes of asbestos shingles rained down upon the gathering to their surprise and anguish. They were up and running outside in a flash to check on all the kids.

The farmer was unharmed, thank goodness.

My brother and my father had a chat and my brother learned not to handle the gun without an adult present at all times. That was the lesson to be learned at that moment, or just be careful when handling the gun and the parents will know nothing about it.

My father taught us all how to handle guns of all sorts, and I am glad for that. We used them together as a family often and no one was ever injured.

That same gun saved my family from disaster more than once. A gun can be a good thing to have in time of need. It's better to have one and not need it than to need one and not have it.

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