I had a patient and good friend a few years back named Mr. Clemmer. I knew him well for about a decade but knew of him for well over a half century.
Mr. Clemmer ran the Ford tractor dealership out on 301 years ago and I stopped in there from time to time with farmer friends to buy parts. I enjoyed talking with him. He was such a gentle and positive person and we liked the same things.
We were in the office one day talking about things and he suddenly asked me if I knew anybody that would be interested in a couple of guns. I have way more guns than I need but I do have people that I run into from time to time looking for good used weapons.
I asked him what he had and he said an L.C. Smith shotgun and a Smith and Wesson pistol. I then asked him why he was selling them and he said he could use a thousand dollars for a grave marker for him and his wife. His two guns were name-brand firearms and I thought I could probably find someone who would give him close to that amount for them, maybe even Chan at Woody’s pawn shop.
A few days later Mr. Clemmer dropped the guns off. I was a little disappointed to see that the stock on the L.C. Smith was splintered and glued and tacked back together. The finish was completely worn off and the barrels were black with debris.
Mr. Clemmer proudly recounted a story about his uncle, having run out of shells, clubbing a wounded deer with it, thus breaking the stock. The barrel on the Smith and Wesson was bulged about halfway down its length. No one in their right mind would give him a thousand dollars for these two guns. He was my friend and most people know I am not in my right mind, so if he needed money for a tombstone, so be it.
On his next appointment, I gave him the money and a few weeks later he asked if he could buy the Smith and Wesson back. He said he wanted to leave it to his son. I gladly let him have it for $200. Now, what to do with the L.C. Smith? The stock on an L.C. Smith holds the lock works of the gun. This one was so out of place that the safety wouldn’t work. One trigger constantly froze up. It was useless as it was.
Unfortunately, all L.C. Smiths are not the same. The stocks have to be custom fitted unlike say a Fox with its box-lock action where you just screw the stock on the back of the action. I began investigating the possibility of buying a semi-finished blank stock and fitting it myself.
I finally went to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, Macon Gunstocks of Missouri. Bryan Macon was very patient. He offered to send me a stock blank, a semi-inletted stock, or a nearly finished one. Then came the word of caution that I really needed a gunsmith friend with some wood-fitting tools.
I elected to send him the shotgun. Fast forward 15 months and $2,500 later, I received my shotgun back. I really wish Mr. Clemmer was still alive. My friend had passed. He would have been thrilled to see the gun. The stock was perfect. Unfortunately the shotgun wasn’t. The safety still wouldn’t work properly and Macon Gunstocks explicitly states on their website that they have no liability for the metal parts of a gun. So, off to Darlington Gun Works and master gunsmith Jim Kelly I went. If you want some interesting reading, look up the article, “Jim Kelly and the Legend of Bo Whoop.”
A few months later I had the old L.C. back. It functioned perfectly and I used some bore gel and a lot of elbow grease to make the barrels gleam with just a few traces of pitting. An old field grade L.C. Smith can be had for $800 to $1,200 on many websites. I now had about $4000 in mine. But you know what? Every time that I pull it out of the closet and work the action, I think about an old friend that I miss and wish I could talk to again. It’s hard to put a price on that.