by Bruce Hogg from Big Woody, MB
I spent my 17th birthday away from our farm. I was working in a logging and lumber camp.
Like everyone there, I worked all winter. I saved my earnings and once I was back home, in the spring of 1952, I went to the hardware store in town and bought a new Husqvarna .30-06 bolt-action rifle.
It cost me $89.00.
I was so proud of my new gun. It sat on display in the gun rack at the end of our farmhouse hallway.
Back then it was common for a farmer to use dynamite to blast rocks from the field if they needed to move them. We didn’t have big machinery back then.
Our farm was a bit larger than most and my Dad would hire a man to work with us for the spring, summer and fall. Our hired man’s name was Lloyd. He was a dependable and hard working fellow, and admired my thirty-ought-six and that made me proud. Almost every time Lloyd saw my rifle he would say, “What a beautiful gun. I sure would like to fire it some day.”
And so, one Sunday morning that I got out of bed a little earlier than I usually did. And on my way out of the house I picked up an empty tomato juice can off the kitchen counter.
When the chores were done, I went to one of the outbuildings and I carefully opened the dynamite box that was stored there. I took two sticks out of the box and unwrapped them. I put the dynamite into the tomato juice can.
We kept blasting caps in a separate building. I went to that building and got three caps and carefully placed them into the can.
I set the can on top of an old fence post.
I went back to the house and lifted my rifle down from the gun rack.
When I got outside, Lloyd was in the yard.
“Do you want to take a shot this morning?” I asked.
Lloyd beamed like a kid at Christmas. “You betcha!” He said.
As we walked across the yard, I told Lloyd that it was a very powerful firearm that I had, and that he will likely be surprised at just how much power it actually had. Then I pointed at the post about 50 yards away and said:
“See if you can hit that tomato juice can.”
Lloyd raised the rifle and took aim.
I stepped back and covered my ears.
Lloyd was a good marksman. He squeezed the trigger.
The juice can -- and the post -- disintegrated.
The tall grass surrounding the post went as flat as a carpet for several yards in every direction. When the blast went by us I thought my hair was being ripped straight backwards out of my head.
Lloyd lowered the rifle and turned to look at me. He had lost all colour and expression. I held out the other shell and asked if he wanted to try another shot.
“No,” said Lloyd. “One’s enough.”