I noticed a tiny black bump on my leg the other day and when I looked closer, what I thought was a little pimple or the like, turned out to be a size #10 birdshot! Wondering how in the world did that get there, I suddenly remembered… it came from the time when I was shot with a shotgun!
Sixty five years ago, when I was a lad of 16 and living on Bradshaw Road, I was a hunter and liked shooting shotguns and rifles. Our neighbors were the Street family and they had a son, Francis Edward, Ed to all of us, who was my best friend.
Ed also was a hunter and his father, Joe, was to all of us kids the great authority on all kinds of hunting and shooting. He was an electrician and worked at Edgewood Arsenal and during hunting seasons, he spent most of his time guiding the generals and other officers in their quests for game at the Army Center.
In a lot of hunting expeditions off the Center, and even some on the grounds, Ed accompanied his father and as Ed’s friend and neighbor, I was invited to tag along. One of the species we pursued was of the winged variety. We hunted pheasant and quail and one of our favorite quarry was the duck.
You had to learn how to shoot them because they flew rather fast and if you didn’t lead them properly you came home with an empty bag. The same thing went for Pheasant and Quail, so when Sunday came, we went looking for a place where they were practicing by shooting at clay pigeons.
It was warm that Fall Sunday afternoon and I had been invited to tag along with Ed and his Dad Joe to Joppa Farm. It was a large tract of land nearby that was composed of a few fields and a lot of marshes and swamps. It bordered the tidal Gunpowder River just off the Chesapeake Bay. The Chell Family lived there in an old colonial house that was built by Rumsey, in the 1600’s from bricks brought over as ballast in ships from England. He was a member of the Continental Congress.
Frank was a hunter and a good friend of Joe’s and in front of the house he had built a small wall that faced out over the marsh and behind that wall was the Clay Pidgeon launcher. We had come, along with Tom & Bruce MacCauley who owned the local Dry Cleaners and several others including Frank’s brother Billy, to participate in an afternoon of trap shooting. Ed and I, being the youngest ones, were selected to operate the trap and we climbed in behind the wooden wall.
I took the left seat and Ed took the right side. I was pulling the rope that launched the clay birds and Ed was handing them to me to load from a box at his feet. All went well for about an hour and it would soon be time for Ed and I to get a break and shoot a few clay pigeons.
But first, Tom MacCauley stepped up to shoot his Model 12 Winchester Pump action shot-gun and proceeded to load the tubular magazine with several shells. To get a shell from the magazine to the chamber, you simply slid the wooden grip under the barrel and a round went into firing position. But the Model 12 had a problem at times. With safety on and finger off the trigger, it still had a habit of occasionally firing on its own when that shell slid into the chamber. The muzzle of the gun came up and the gun fired. The wooden barrier that Frank had built should stop the shot, everybody thought, but when I yelled out and lay on the ground, there was a little panic.
It seems the board he had used for my side had been invaded by termites and the shot went thru the barrier and into my back and my legs that were pulled up in a sitting position. To me it felt like someone had struck me with a wide board across my entire back. They took off my shirt and there were little punctures over my back, especially the lower left side.
There was much panic.
Had to find a Doctor to see how bad it was and this was Sunday…who would be around? Havre de Grace was the closest Hospital but suddenly someone said Dr. Houdous. He lived on Philadelphia Road in Van Bibber which was about 10 minutes away. Tom wanted to pick me up and carry me to his Plymouth but I jumped up to show him I could walk. I almost fell down again but I made it.
The trip out the 2 mile long dirt road from the farm and the hair-raising trip up Philadelphia Road were enough to scare me to death but we arrived in one piece. The doctor’s office was in his house and luckily he was home and not out on his boat.
We spent an hour on that table, with him picking and probing, getting 30 pellets out of my back and legs. Seven pellets in my back and 4 in my legs were too deep so he left them there. He told me the ones in my legs may work themselves out one day and we would know in a short while if the ones in my back went into my abdominal cavity.
I went back to the farm and shot a round of trap, dreading going home and telling Dad and Mom of my adventure. Tom said he would go with me but I elected to have Ed tag along, didn’t want it to seem too serious.
Mom cried and Dad said that was the last trap shoot for me but he relented. I only had one other piece of shot come out and apparently nothing made it inside so when they said I had lead in my behind, it was a little higher up but it really was there. Tom and I were good friends from that day on…
Don LangrehrAre you receiving your free digital subscription to The Zone Magazine? If not, click here!