In the spring of 1991, when I lived in Rural Hall, NC I got a call from my stepfather. His aunt had died at the ripe, old age of 96, and her children had discovered one of his uncle’s pistols in her attic, wrapped in a diaper and stashed in a hat box. He said that it was an old 1911, and it appeared to be loaded. It was cocked and the manual safety was engaged. The safety appeared to be stuck, and he wanted me to come have a look and clear the gun, hopefully without damaging the safety.
When I arrived, he handed a commercial Government Model to me in Condition 1. The safety was a little tight, but it disengaged with a snap…and the chamber was indeed loaded and there were six rounds of Remington UMC in the magazine. Aside from a little age discoloration, they all appeared to be good. I slipped the chambered round back into the magazine and turned my attention to the pistol while “Jim” related the story of his uncle, Will.
Uncle Will had been a town constable in Courtney, NC in Yadkin County and served part time as a railroad detective. He’d died in his sleep, and Aunt Emma had found the gun in the nightstand. Knowing little about guns, Aunt Emma’s children advised her to wrap it up and store it…which she did…and it laid in the attic ever since, forgotten until it was discovered shortly after her death.
Her daughters…knowing that my stepfather was a gun collector, and having no interest in the gun themselves…called him to come and get it out of the house.
After a cursory examination, I reloaded the gun…chambered a round…stepped outside…and fired it to slidelock.
The kicker here is that Uncle Will died a relatively young man in 1929 of a massive stroke. The pistol had laid in that attic loaded…cocked and locked for nearly 62 years…and it functioned perfectly. I then detail stripped it for a full examination and thorough cleaning…oiled it…and handed it back. He wrapped it in the same diaper and put it away. With a slight smile, he said that he was only seven years old when his uncle died, and he could barely remember him…but he did remember that pistol. There was also a 1903 Pocket Colt and a 16 gauge Lefever double shotgun that Aunt Emma had given to her only son some years before, and they had passed on to his son when he died.