My favorite firearm is a .45-cal. Colt Single Action Army that I purchased new in 1980. The old Colt exudes Western adventure, both real and imagined. It is fun to shoot and my first choice for big-bore plinking, target shooting or picking off water-filled jugs. As much as I enjoy this Colt, I especially value the memory of the man who sold it to me 42 years ago.
Bill Whitehouse owned and managed Whitehouse Gun Shop in my hometown for roughly 50 years. In his later years, Bill and his wife, Millie, managed the business together. It was a small store, but well-stocked. In back was a mysterious storeroom, the contents of which were known only to Bill. When asked about the availability of some obscure item, Bill would go back to that room, often returning with the treasure. Millie took care of the handguns in the display cases. After a customer handled a gun, Millie would meticulously wipe it down before carefully putting it away. If you bought a gun from Bill, you would pay a round-number price close to retail, but he covered the sales tax and always included a box of cartridges. Bill was always happy to share his knowledge, advice and wisdom with this young gun enthusiast.
In 1980, as now, demand for Colt’s Model P outpaced production. The 4 3/4"-barreled version was especially scarce. Eventually, Bill acquired this early Third Generation Colt for me. I later bought a $20 set of sambar stag stocks (a back-room treasure) and spent many hours carefully shaping and fitting them. Stag stocks on Colt’s six-shooter make for perfect partners reminiscent of the Old West or, more likely, old Westerns.
I have enjoyed shooting well over a thousand rounds through this revolver. Bill’s advice on proper handling and careful cleaning has kept this classic looking much like the day I bought it. Bill Whitehouse and his gun shop have been gone for 30 years, but I think of that gentleman every time I pick up my favorite sixgun.