Heirlooms From My Father
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 by Frank Shortt
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Dad was a hunter. Given the name Edward Lee at birth he was destined for greatness in the area of Shortt Gap, Virginia as our area was known. From his boyhood he found ways to bring food home via traps he set or even homemade guns he used for small game. He came from a very large family, 11 in all, and each child was required to do their share to insure there was ample food for everyone.

Dad also ran a trap-line on the way to school at Grimsleyville hoping to catch mink and other smaller animals for their pelts, mink being the most profitable. His catch, most often were skunks, causing an uproar at school because of the unsavory odors he carried in on his clothes. One of dad's cousins, Loya Davis, told me one time about how dad was always late to school because of his trap-line and how he would run all the other children out of the classroom as he made his appearance!

As Dad grew older he became acquainted with more sophisticated weapons and because of his ability to make his own weapons, he became a fairly decent gunsmith. He also was a very good trader in guns. He used to bring in some very unusual foreign made weapons that became a source of entertainment for his children. His favorites were the German and Finnish made guns. He loved these because of their workmanship and accuracy. As boys, none of my brothers were allowed to take dad's guns out of the house for apparent reasons, but that did not mean that we didn't sneak them out while he and my mom went shopping on the weekends. That is another story!

As I grew older, I was allowed to hunt with a little Stevens model .410, over and under break-down model. The top barrel was a .22 caliber rifle and the bottom barrel was a .410 gauge shotgun. I used the .22 rifle for target practice and the .410 in case I ran into a squirrel to take home for dinner. Squirrels raised on hickory nuts, and other nuts were, and still are, a delicacy in and around Buchanan County Virginia. The Edward Shortt children all remember the delectable fried squirrel parts and the savory gravy made from the drippings. When I went home on a leave from the US Air Force one time in the early 1960's, dad presented me with the little Steven's model .410 as a gift. When my first grandson, Timothy, was born I presented him the gun on his first birthday. I believe he still possesses this gun that was made in about 1932.

During many Thanksgiving seasons Dad was invited to, what then, was called "Turkey Shoots". The target was marked with an x in the center and the idea was to completely obliterate the little x at so many yards with whatever weapon the shooter might bring. This competition brought out many and sundry weapons as long as they used the prescribed shot for the "Shoot". Dad's weapon of choice, many times, was an old Harrington/Richardson Long Tom single shot shotgun. This gun would reach away out there and splatter whatever it was aimed at. Needless to say, Dad brought home the turkey quite a few times for our Thanksgiving meal. That old gun is one that is still in my possession, unused but still in great shape for its age.

Another gun of choice for Dad's squirrel hunting was a Savage over and under breakdown model with a .22 caliber rifle on the top and a .20 guage shotgun on the lower barrel. He brought down many squirrels of different sizes and varieties, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, and sometimes what was known as albinos. Dad could shoot the eye out of a squirrel many yards away with the .22 caliber rifle barrel, and if he missed, there was always the .20 gauge load for backup. This gun had a stainless steel chamber and trigger guard for years of action.

Dad passed this life from complications of cancer in 1986. He bore the illness with bravery and dignity, just as he had faced life in general. Many old hunting buddies and church affiliates came to the funeral with nothing but praise for the man who had stood in Shortt Gap for over 40 years helping the older citizens and those downtrodden ones of society.

When he passed away I was allowed to choose any object that was left to keep for myself. I chose the Savage over and under, and a John Primble pocket knife, as well as, a pair of jade colored cuff-links with white horses in relief. These are prized possessions of a most grateful son who was taught that Truth will always win out over untruths!