Family History: The Antelope Horns in the Garage

Antelope PhotoA friend apologized for not stopping by my Open Studio–an event in my town when artists open their studios to show off their work. His excuse? He’d taken his grandson hunting and he’d bagged an antelope, his first. My friend, I could tell, was excited to have shared that rite of passage with his grandson. Tops anything else he could have done that weekend and made me wonder about the antelope horns in our garage.

I knew they were from the first antelope my husband bagged as a teenager, growing up in Twin Bridges, Montana. Who had shared that moment with him? His father was sixty years old when he was born and close to eighty when he was a teenager. Besides, he was the only pharmacist in that small town, meaning he worked six and a half days a week, hardly ever taking a vacation. He even worked the morning he died. Not likely he’d gone with him. My husband never knew his grandparents nor had any close uncles. Young boys don’t learn to hunt on their own. Why had I never thought to ask? The horns obviously meant something. They were polished, mounted, ready to hang, and had been packed and unpacked for every one of the dozen moves we’ve made during our marriage.

So I asked.

Turns out that his father hired someone to teach him the fundamentals of hunting, but he didn’t like the guy. So mostly he hunted alone. His mother would drive him into the hills and wait while he went out with his gun. He got an antelope and a deer that way before he gave up hunting to go to college and has never returned to the sport.

Often we don’t even know the stories of the people closest to us, unless we ask, unless we wonder . . .

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7 Comments

Filed under Family history, Family Stories, Memories, Why Stories?

7 responses to “Family History: The Antelope Horns in the Garage

  1. I never knew that Jon hunted, although most of us who grew up around Twin Bridges did. I always thought of him as the guy who won science fairs.

    I am intrigued by the story and am sure there’s a more elaborate tales there. I hope you’ll ask more–an tell.

  2. Bette Rehner

    You have me pondering the reasons why we do or don’t ask questions — especially of those closest to us. There could be many reasons and those reasons can also lead to interesting stories!

    Thanks again for sharing your ‘ponderings’! I really enjoy them.

  3. I had no idea that Jon hunted as a kid–but as his friend says above, not unusual for any of us who grew up in more rural areas in those days.

    Sometimes we don’t ask questions because we somehow know we won’t like the answers. I often think about things I know about my relatives who have passed on and wish I’d asked more, paid more attention, been less caught up in my own life. Now I’m left to wonder, for example, about a story of my aunt and uncle and John Wayne that I only recall tattered remnants of. They flap around in my mind like clothes on a line in the wind–hard to catch hold of, sort of stiff to the touch, but still I want to hold them close.

  4. I have the opposite in my miniscule family. My son has no interest in my childhood or stories my parents told me about theirs. He’s now 28, so I don’t know that he ever will care.

  5. It IS amazing how easy it is to forget to ask about our ancestors until it’s too late. Halloween/Day of the Dead/Samhaim is a time to honor the departed ancestors, and in thinking back to my grandparents and great-grandparents, I’m horrified at how little I know. Mental note to talk to my parents….soon!

  6. It was like pulling teeth to get anything out of my mother’s family about their lives or ancestors. Once in a while one of my brothers and I get together and try to piece together the shreds we’ve gleaned. I asked my uncle what his grandmother, my great-grandmother, was like, and all I could get out of him was: “She wore an apron and she made pies.” That’s something, I guess.

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