THE SWORD I PLAYED WITH
by Ron Norman
Walking home from school in the second grade (1945-46) was usually done together with my buddies, Bud and Dick, both of whom lived about a mile from school. I lived about a half mile further up the same road. Once or twice a week, Bud’s mother would have some after-school punch and cookies for us.
On one occasion, she brought out an old sword out for us to play with. We would do our bit of make-believe and sometimes swing it at the bushes to cut off a flower or two. This happened at least two or three times, that I remember. I also recalled that the family referred to it as a “Civil War sword.”
The following year, the local school districts were changed. I was assigned to a new school to the north, so I really did not see much of my old buddies until we all met again in junior high. We went through high school together and continued to be good friends.
After high school, Bud went to college and became a medical doctor (like his father). A few years into college, Dick had an emergency appendectomy and died on the operating table due to an extreme reaction to the anesthetic.
Eventually, I settled into collecting early American militaria with an emphasis on the Civil War. Whenever I acquired a sword, I would recall playing with the sword at Bud’s house on the way home from school.
When I would see Bud at a class reunion or some other occasion, I would ask him about the sword. He would always explain me that the family still had some older hunting guns that had belonged to his father, but no sword.
Fast-forward about 50 years. I received a call from Dewey Hathcock, with whom I had played on a local fast-pitch softball league All Star team back in the mid 1960s. Dewey was the older brother of my deceased grade school buddy, Dick. Dewey had moved about 30 miles away where he was a fishing guide and maker of custom fishing tackle. He had quite a collection of related items.
Dewey was in seriously deteriorating health and had called me because someone told him I had an antique store. He was looking for someone who could help him value his collection. I gathered my reference books and catalogs and headed south to his home in Boca Grande. We spent several hours working on his things when he asked me what I collected. I told him, “Mostly military items.”
We had tentatively planned to get back together in a few days to finish, so he said he would bring out the family bring-backs from both World Wars. He told me I could buy those if they were of interest.
On my return, I saw that he had retrieved all the old family military items. We agreed on a price, and I purchased the whole lot. After I loaded every thing into my wagon, I thanked Dewey and wished him well. Then he said, “You know what? I am really glad that you ended up with my grandfather’s Civil War sword as I can still remember you and Bud and my brother Dick swinging that sword at the bushes at Bud’s house.” Wow, this was the sword I played with, thought about, and looked for during the past 50 years. Now I owned it!
It turns out, the sword we swung at flowers was a very fine and rare Confederate Nashville Plow Works officer’s sword. Who would ever believe that it could happen?