44 Magnum’s and Dribbles

by kfrego

We lived in Gardiner,MT while drilling at Jardine five miles away. The bar of choice for the drill crews was the Blue Goose. Montana had no restrictions on carrying firearms as long as they were exposed. There was always somebody running around with a pistol and holster. Linda and I were at the Blue Goose one night having drinks with several friends. One of the local hires on our drill crew came in with his brother. Everybody liked the brother for his sense of humor and personality. He was always a live wire. He was short, thin, and his cowboy boots and western hat took up more height than his body. He was bragging to everybody about his new 44 Magnum pistol. As the night progressed everybody had a good time and most were feeling no pain. The brother announced he was going home to get his new 44 Magnum. I had seen a few of these shows before. Linda and I decided to go home. An hour later when the bar closed the brother was just outside headed home. He was practicing spinning and holstering his new pistol when he dropped it into his holster with his finger on the trigger. It didn’t hurt the pistol at all as the bullet tore a hole the size of a lemon through his thigh. Thank God all he lost was a little of his own meat. If that bullet would have hit a bone he could have lost a leg.

A family from Southern California bought an empty diner a few doors down from the Blue Goose. John’s parents bought the diner so John packed up his wife and children and moved to Gardiner also. John hired out with Boyles Brothers at Jardine and was my drill helper. Our families became very good friends. I always laughed when picking John up for work. I always dressed light until we got to work. John came off his front porch wearing half of what he owned. He’d have all kinds of clothes and full insulated coveralls on before he left the house. The pick-up heater would nearly suffocate him as I stayed comfortable in my flannel shirt. He’d crack the window and get a few breaths of cold winter air once in a while. I always acted like it wasn’t noticed.

We were drilling underground on nights when John learned a lesson. One thing you learn as a miner, pay attention to dribbles of rock or pebbles hitting your head or shoulders. You react immediately to get away. The dribbles might be a precursor to something big. I was drilling and John was about four feet away leaning up against the timber. A dribble of rock hit my hard hat and John was levelled as I ran through him. I stopped ten feet away as he was trying to determine what happened. He shook himself off and got over it.

Poor John thought the world was ending……..but it just dribbled a little bit.