Offhand Shots: The Half-Dollar Friendship

Joe misplaces his wallet for the first time in his life

offhand shots outdoor life

offhand shots

The musings and memories of our backpage columnistJoel Kimmel

The loss still hurts. During the last weekend of Nebraska’s deer season, I lost my billfold. I don’t recall having ever lost one before, but it’s gone. The last time I remember having it was at the Sun Mart in Ogallala, where, after hunting all day Friday, Sam and I picked up groceries to take to the cabin. I walked out carrying grocery bags, bought a copy of the Keith County News at the box outside, then walked across the parking lot to Sam’s pickup.

After hunting all day Saturday (Cathy in my pickup; Jack in Sam’s), we drove to town to gas up. No billfold in pocket. No problem. I often leave it in the glove compartment when I’m hunting. Cathy looked; not there. Maybe it was in Sam’s glove compartment; not there. Maybe it fell between the seats or was under the pile of hunting gear in the back seat.

It wasn’t. Searched both pickups, emptied all the duffel bags, and on Sunday, I retraced my steps, made easier by tracks in the snow. I started at every point we had stopped and gotten out of the pickup, figuring it might have been kicked out or fallen out the door. I retraced my steps through the zigzag shelterbelt, thinking it might have fallen out as I stepped over a downed locust tree or dodged under a spreading cedar. I even followed drag marks back to where Sam killed his buck. Nothing. Well, surely it’ll show up somewhere in the cabin. Or at home. Nope.

I placed an ad in the Keith County News and called into Swap Shop on KOGA radio. Nothing. Not even needling phone calls from buddies who’d heard it on the radio.

I started the tedious process of replacing the contents of my billfold. Getting a new driver’s license was fairly easy. I did it online, then picked up a temporary license at the courthouse until the real one came in the mail. My replacement concealed-carry permit arrived next.

Replacement credit cards followed. I cancelled them when it became apparent this wasn’t going to end quickly. There had been no activity on the cards, making me believe the billfold was lost, or if someone had found it they were honest enough not to try to use my credit cards but not neighborly enough to track me down. Not that I had a lot in there, but they could keep the cash.

Lifetime hunting, fishing, and furbearer licenses–replaceable. A couple of scraps of paper containing quotes I’ve carried for years, the protective lamination giving up around the edges. I can probably do without them.

But one thing is irreplaceable. Way back when we finally hit drinking age, Dan Fulton and I were often in Tunie’s Liquor Store, perusing the selection on the shelves behind Tunie as he told us his newest old jokes. We’d split the cost of whatever we bought. One time the change came out so there was an extra dollar bill.

Neither Dan nor I wanted to take it, so, share and share alike, we tore the bill in half and each laughingly tucked half in our respective billfolds, saying we’d spend it sometime when we were together and needed a buck.

Dan and I have been friends since high school, roomed together in college, and have shared a bunch of hunting and other escapades. Flash-forward 40-some years to our class reunion. We hadn’t mentioned the dollar much throughout the years, but Dan pulled his half dollar from his billfold and asked, “Remember this?” I pulled out my billfold and from the worn plastic sleeve, behind a scrap of paper with my HIP number, I pulled out the matching half.

He laughed and turned to his wife, Pam. “How’s that for friendship?”

I keep hoping my billfold will show up somewhere, somehow, but I fear I’ve lost my half of that dollar. I don’t know how to break the news to Dan.