"Hey, I have an extra shotgun case. You are more than welcome to it."
I laughed and politely declined, knowing that the offer is due to the fact that my case is so ratty and old and, well, ugly.
However, when they hear why I store my 12 gauge in this particular case, their eyebrows raise and their heads nod in affirmation and with respect.
"This case belonged to my Grandmom. It's good luck."
My grandmother Martha had a single-barreled .410 shotgun that she kept in the closet next to her bedroom. The case I now use was the one she kept it in. In years past the .410 was used by Grandmom to shoot at rabbits, groundhogs, foxes, and snakes. I write shoot at because interviews with all known living witnesses indicate she was a horrible shot and never hit anything.
There is part of me that believes the misses may have been on purpose.
Martha's most famous .410 story goes all the way back to January of 1974 when Ronald Hoffecker, a thirty year old local heroin dealer, went on a killing spree that left five dead. To this day it remains one of the most vicious crimes that occurred in Delaware. It was a systematic act and Hoffecker was on the loose for one very long night before it ended when he killed himself during a high speed pursuit.
Needless to say, everyone in Kent County (and much of the state) was glued to radios and police scanners the entire night praying that it would all end. My mother was especially worried because not only was her husband, a State Trooper, out there trying to locate Hoffecker, but she was home alone with two young kids. I imagine she was a bit jumpy when there was a knock at the front door.
"Susan. It's me. Open up."
My mom opened the door to find her mother, Martha, standing there...all eighty-five pounds of her gripping her .410 shotgun.
"Now don't you worry, Sue. That son of a bitch shows himself around here and I'll take care of it."
Sometimes the best thing during a stressful situation is comedic relief.
Here are a few pics of the case. I wish I had a necktie with this lining pattern. If there is any doubt that it is the .410 shotgun case belonging to the infamous Martha Benson, I photographed the cigarette burn mark on its exterior to leave no question.
How could I ever part with it?