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Subject: My Dad. The Sniper. rss

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Paul DeStefano
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So about 6 years ago, my mom passed away. 4 years ago, he decided to leave the house I grew up in. We were cleaning the house out, claiming our stuff and packing up.

My dad never argues. He never raises his voice. He's quite a religious man, and could probably have been quite happy living in a monastery, smiling and hurrying about doing monkly things.

My brothers and I knew he had been in the army. He saw a war movie, fell in love with the idea, and enlisted.

But we weren't quite prepared when we found a tiny cardboard box in the cedar chest. The kind of box that usually contains a velvety box inside to hold some jewelry item.

Inside, a series of tiny medals and pins, darkened by time.

Sharpshooter. 4 small dots of some sort hanging from it.

Marksman top grade.

A small tag given for winning a competition involving disassembling and reassembling an M1 rifle. In the dark.

A small pamphlet marked Classified, defining Special Sniper tactics, including how to commit suicide with a bayonet, if needed.

For the next few hours, we learned of dad's 'other side'. He tried to ship his rifle home with him to always have it - a piece at a time. He slept with it. He could put a hole in a playing card at 100 yards in less than 5 seconds from shouldered to shot.

What? Who was this man?

He never saw any combat. His unit - which he won't detail for us, so I suspect it might have been some commando assassin unit - was never mobilized.

It doesn't come up that often.

But the other day, looking over toys in a toystore, my dad found the toy gun section. We don't allow realistic based guns in my house. Dad picks up a rifle in admiration, closes his eyes, and runs his hand over it.

"It's small and it's plastic, but it's still not right," he says, reading the toy like braille. "This screw housing should be lower, and this should be a flat head. Missing the indent for the thumb over here. Stock's too straight. Never be able to target someone's neck down the line fast enough the way you have to hold this thing."

Then this small, bald man in his seventies places the gun back on the rack and wanders back to my son to the absolute horrified look of a toy store worker helping and woman and her daughter searching for dolls.

 
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Rob
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Paul, I consider myself a pretty good writer - if I do say so myself. But I'm constantly enraptured by your prose - well done!
 
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Chaddyboy
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Wasn't your dad also a crazy card shuffler? Sounds like he had amazing dexterity!
 
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Paul DeStefano
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Sinister Dexter wrote:
Paul, I consider myself a pretty good writer - if I do say so myself. But I'm constantly enraptured by your prose - well done!


A great compliment, humbly accepted with thanks.

I write constantly. As my job, and entertainment. It's just a natural function for me.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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chaddyboy_2000 wrote:
Wasn't your dad also a crazy card shuffler? Sounds like he had amazing dexterity!


Absolutely right, Chad. My dad spent a few years as a pro magician.

He was also a great jazz drummer. He played with Benny Goodman every now and then as the local backup drummer in Brooklyn.

Yes - all very 'hand' oriented. Subtle control stuff.
 
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Rob
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BTW, when I first saw this thread, I thought it was related to the eBay sniping thread farther down (now on page 2, actually). Part way thru the story, I still thought you were going to say that your dad secretly bought stuff off the Internet and hid them in a closet or something. That's part of the reason the story was so effective for me. It wasn't intentional on your part, but surprising just the same.
 
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pronoblem baalberith
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Whoa... thanks for that.

Do you know if he had worked with the rifle before and/or after his military experience?
 
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Needle
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Great story. I've taken to writing to my parents in a way to try and understand them a bit more, what they went through, get new info about them etc. Maybe if you try something similar he might open up-if you have the desire.
 
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John O'Haver PhoDOGrapher
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Paul,

I always read your posts. You do string words together pretty well.

Scrib
 
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