Vintage Vignette: “Take that gun dad!”

Bill Fowler | Guest Writer

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When mom and dad sold their 340-acre farm on the Lehi north bench in 1957, they used the proceeds of the sale to buy a house, a new car, and a semi-truck with a 40-foot trailer. Dad intended to go into the freight hauling business and took out a license for his new venture which he aptly named Lakeside Supply of Lehi.

He was an independent trucker and solo driver as well as head mechanic, salesman, and dispatcher. Just to make sure there was food on the table with a regular paycheck, he “contracted” with Bunker Feed in Orem to supply them with sugar beet pulp. He made a trip to Garland, Utah three times each week to fill an order for beet pulp. The pulp was a valued component in feed production demands for dairymen in Utah County. Alone, the beet pulp haul was not very profitable, so he would try to get a load of goods to haul north from Utah County.

Dad soon received a phone call from a mink farmer in Brigham City asking if dad could bring them “a couple of loads of wood shavings for the mink pens.” A deal was struck and dad picked up the wood shavings in West Jordan and delivered them to the mink farm in Brigham City. He submitted his bill to them and waited for a promised payment via the U.S. mail. He then delivered a second load of wood shavings a week later and gave them another bill for both loads of shavings.

Regarding no payment made yet, an apology was offered and a promise of payment was extended. Dad was sure he would get his money since the home and ranch were quite lavish, well supplied and looked to be successful by all appearances. The name of the owner was a well-known and respected name in the city.

Two weeks passed and no payment came. Dad called the owner a couple of times, but no one answered the phone. Finally, dad called and a young girl answered the telephone. Dad asked to speak to her father and she said “okay, he is right here.” No one ever came on line and dad hung up.

The next week I accompanied Dad on the beet pulp trip to Garland. We stopped at the mink ranch and walked up the lane from the highway to their home. No one answered the knock at the front door and we heard a door slam in their nearby work barn. We approached the building and saw a man run out the back entrance. He quickly disappeared into the mink pens. Dad called out to him but there was no reply. We went to the back door of the barn and noticed a brand-new rifle propped against the doorway. It was a Remington 30-06 that still had the Zinik’s Sporting Goods tags dangling from the trigger housing showing a price of $165, with two boxes of bullets on the ground near the gun.

“Dad,” I said, “there is your payment.”  He wants to give you that gun for payment. He left it for you.”

Dad looked at the gun for at least a full minute, picked it up and worked the bolt action a couple of times… then looked around to see if anyone was nearby. He had been talking about getting a new deer rifle. We both looked around the barn for a note or something to see if the gun was really being offered as payment. There was none.

I again told dad that I thought the gun was intended for payment. He placed the 30-06 back against the door then reached in his shirt pocket and took out his small black notebook. He tore out a page and wrote something on it then punched it on a nail protruding from the framed doorway of the shed and said, “ok Bill, let’s head on up the road.”  He turned and began to walk away as I glanced at the new gun then up at the note. It read…

You owe me $240. I could take this gun and call it square, but I am not a thief! What are you? Don Fowler – Lehi

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