Back in the late 1970’s I was an over the road truck driver. I owned my own truck, along with the finance company. After my four-year enlistment in the Navy Seabees, and newly married, I decided to try my hand at civilian truck driving. I did some trucking for Uncle Sam and enjoyed it. As an owner/operator, every month I hauled freight to just about every place in the lower 48 to make a living and keep my truck payments current.

On one particular trip I was hauling washers and dryers for a major manufacturer in the Midwest for delivery to various appliance retail stores and warehouses in the New York City area. It was around suppertime when I pulled into a truck stop just outside of the city with my loaded trailer. I knew that deliveries on that day were not going to happen, as it was well after 6 o’clock. So, a shower, meal and television in the truckers’ lounge seemed like a good plan to me. I would make my deliveries in the morning.

After eating supper in the truck stop cafe and catching some television in the truckers-only lounge, I decided to call it a night after watching the late evening news with several other drivers. As I headed back to my truck in the dimly-lit rig parking lot, my thoughts were only on getting into the sleeper of the cab, as I was bushed and all too ready to hit the sack.

As I jumped up on the driver side step and opened my truck door, my sleep idea ended as a hand came up over my right shoulder and around my neck as I was climbing into the cab. It was a huge hand and a very strong one. The big hand was trying to choke me down to the hard asphalt parking lot.

Instinctively, I reached under my sleeper bunk mattress behind my seat and pulled out my stashed .22 caliber revolver and pointed it blindly behind me while pressing down on the trigger. In an instant the hand was gone from my gasping throat and, thanks to a very gritty and long trigger pull, my finger eased off of the double-action pull just at the right time before I would have dropped the hammer. Coughing and shaking, I jumped down from my truck still pointing that little .22 snubby revolver, but all I could see was a pair of feet in Nikes running away as they turned at the back of my trailer and disappeared into the night.

That old revolver wasn’t much of a gun but it was enough. It was also the only gun I owned back then. It was really almost by accident that I had acquired it. I had bought it from another Seabee while stationed at my final duty station, the Charleston Naval Station. My shipmate wanted to get rid of it, as his wife didn’t want it around. They lived in base housing and their two children were just too curious for their own good, as she put it. I really didn’t want the revolver, as I could tell that it was rough and certainly not a Smith or a Colt. That handgun was a snubby .22 made in Brazil. That was about the only thing that could be said for it. But, for 10 bucks, I took it off his hands and I thought I did him the favor.

How was I to know that as a civilian again a year later, and miles away from Charleston, South Carolina, that chance purchase would possibly be the best investment I ever made. That little roscoe just possibly saved my life in New York, home of the Sullivan Act. I sold that gun several years ago. I own better guns now. But, in all honesty, I can’t say that I ever owned a gun more useful than that inexpensive little .22 revolver.

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