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Tales of Poor Dave

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Joined: 13 Oct 2011
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    Posted: 05 Jul 2021 at 3:17pm

Tales of Poor Dave 

By Bruce Stark

July 2021

 

I first met Poor Dave (a.k.a. Auto Mag Dave) while I was working a table at the old Great Western Gun Show at the LA County Fairgrounds in Pomona, California.  It was 1979 and this was one of the first gun shows at the fairgrounds in Pomona since the gun show moved from the old Great Western Exhibit Center in East LA.  I was selling Auto Mag parts with Ed O'Neil.  Ed was the personal gunsmith of Harry Sanford who manufactured the Auto Mag handgun.   

I asked Ed why he was referring to Dave as Poor Dave.  Ed said, "You'll learn, you'll learn" and boy did I. 

Dave was about 5 foot 10 inches tall and overweight.  He had a voice that seemed to be a mix of Floyd the barber on the Andy Griffith show and Kermit the frog from Sesame Street.  Ed said that Dave was his own worst enemy by continually doing things that were not in his best interest. 

Ed and Dave spoke about Dave's Pasadena Auto Mag that he had loaned to a movie company that was filming "Scared to Death."  Dave said he had not gotten the gun back yet but he got the gun back a few weeks later.  The gun had been beat-to-death during the filming of Scared to Death.  If you watch the movie you can see how the gun is mistreated. 

Dave had several friends with him that he had met at the many Star Trek conventions he attended.  A couple of them were prop makers that Dave worked with at several prop houses and studios.  The crowd of guys physically moved Dave along like an unruly child who was liable to do something wrong. 

Dave and I spoke and I discovered that he lived less than a mile from where I lived in Van Nuys, California.  We decided to get together to discuss and review the Auto Mags, and other guns, that Dave owned. 

Dave's apartment was a sight to behold.  The living room appeared to have no floor as boxes were piled up to eye level and only narrow canyons allowed movement in the room.  The room was freezing cold as a hole in the wall belched out freezing air and water dripped down the wall.  Dave explained that when he moved into this apartment, there was a sheet of plywood covering the air conditioning hole in the wall.  Dave complained to the landlord that his apartment was too hot so the landlord removed the plywood and this is what he had to put up with. When Dave moved out of the apartment, he didn't get his deposit back because the landlord claimed that Dave had ruined the wall with the water coming out of the air conditioning hole. 

We had looked at a couple of guns when Dave asked for a several hundred dollar loan.  I loaned him $300 and took a Whitney Wolverine as collateral on the loan.  It was summer and Dave said he would pay back the loan in 45 days.  I told him he had until Christmas to pay me back.  He never paid me back on the loan and I still have that Whitney Wolverine. 

Dave knew how to make molds and cast polyurethane items.  Dave and his friend James T. Kirk made reproduction Star Trek props that they would sell at the conventions.  Dave branched out and also made a model of the spacecraft used in sci-fi movies like Robinson Crusoe on Mars.  Dave also made silver and gold copies of the ring that was used by Blofeld, who was the head of Spectre in several James Bond movies.  Dave had a connection to a studio prop house that would loan Dave the original props to use to make copies. 

Dave taught me the basics of making molds and casting so that I could make polyurethane grips for the Auto Mag.  We worked on guns and on making molds on my kitchen table as there was no room at Dave's apartment to do much of anything.  Every time Dave came over to my house he would take cans of food home with him as he always seemed to be broke and hungry.

Dave was laid up for about a week after he was supposedly hurt by a cop.  He explained that some of his friends had invited him to go along on a midnight fishing trip off of the Santa Monica pier.  There was to be a run of sculpin that evening.  The sculpin fish has semi venomous spines that are to be avoided by a fisherman.  The guys filled a bucket with the fish and drove back to Van Nuys with their catch.   At dawn the guys were spotted by a pair of cops unloading their car at Dave's apartment.  While they were explaining to the cops that they had just come from a fishing trip, one of the cops said, so where are the fish?  They pointed to the bucket.  The cop said that he didn't see any fish and was about to put his hand into the bucket.  He was warned that the fish were sculpin and that they had piousness spines.  The cop stuck his hand into the bucket and immediately screamed in pain.  Dave must have said something that the cop didn't like because he handcuffed Dave and , as Dave reported, beat him up.   The cop had a bad reaction to the sculpin and was taken away in an ambulance.  Dave sat in the back seat of a squad car for a long time.  They couldn't find anything to charge Dave with so they let him go.

I introduced Dave to a friend of mine named Mike.  Mike and I had camped out all over the Mojave desert and Death Valley.  Dave said he would like to join us on the next camp-out.  Several of us were going to a favorite camping place we called the Oak Tree.  It was about 20 miles east of Palmdale, California.  When we started to tell Dave what he might want to bring to the campout he assured us he was an old hand at camping and not to worry about him.  When we picked him up he only had a large paper grocery bag with him.  When asked, Dave revealed that he hadn't brought any food or anything to drink.  We stopped at a liquor store and Dave came out with another bag he said was food for the campout.  Apparently Dave only bought candy and had it all eaten before we got to the campsite.  The large grocery bag only contained a white bed sheet.  Dave begged for food from some of the other campers and the next morning we found Dave sleeping in a hole in the sand that he dug under the edge of a tarp that someone else had brought and was using. 

Shortly after this, Dave reported that he needed a new windshield for his diesel VW Rabbit.  On his way back from a shooting session up San Francisquito Canyon, two boys with a fully auto BB gun took out Dave's windshield as he was making a turn in the road. 

It had been raining but Dave wanted to go shooting.  We got into his VW Rabbit and headed for our shooting spot up San Francisquito Canyon.  There was less than a mile of off-road driving to get to the shooting area.  The road was a deep muddy mess that ran a couple hundred feet on the side of a cliff.  Once Dave had committed himself to the road, I told him to keep up his speed to keep us from getting stuck.  Once we were out of the mud, Dave didn't slow down.  I told him to slow down but he charged into a creek bed where he hit a rock with his oil pan.  A minute later we were at the shooting area where Dave's VW leaked out most of his engine oil onto the ground.  As we left the shooting area on the muddy road, two guys were casually walking down the muddy road in the tire tracks.  We could stop for them and get stuck in the mud or keep going.  Dave decided to keep going which forced the two guys to jump off of the side of the road into a muddy hell.  We didn't look back.  We made it to a gas station where we left the car and my wife picked us both up and drove us home. 

After Dave replaced the oil pan, someone stole his car.  He called me about this and later called to say that his car had been returned with a broken drivers window.  His car would disappear for a day and then reappear several times in the next couple of months.  A mother cat had given birth to a litter of kittens that were living in Dave's back seat.  He had tried to move the cats out of his car but the mother had really torn up Dave's arm.  Shortly after the cats were out of Dave's car he drove to Simi Valley to visit a friend.  When he got back into his car, he found that another cat was sleeping in his back seat.  He ran the cat out of his car and then a neighbor started to chase him for dumping a cat in front of his house. 

The VW continued to be stolen and returned. When the car was returned Dave would tape a piece of cellophane over the broken drivers window to keep out cats.  The VW was gone for about a week and Dave called me about it.  I told him that he might as well report it as stolen.  Dave called the police and reported his stolen car to them.  A short time later, the car was returned.  The next time Dave used the car, he was arrested for being in possession of a stolen car.  He was kept in jail even after proving that the car was his.  There were over $1,000 in unpaid parking tickets that had been charged to his car while it was being used by the car thief.

When Dave was moving out of his apartment, a short Spanish speaking young woman thanked Dave for the use of his car.  She said it had really helped her and her children. 

The end of the VW Rabbit came when Dave was driving on the Simi Valley Freeway.  Dave recalled seeing a truck tire jump over the K-rail and into oncoming traffic, which he was part of.  Dave says that the next thing he remembers, an angry guy was on his hood pulling the truck tire off of his lap through the broken windshield.  Dave tried to talk to the guy but he only heard Spanish before he passed out again. The next thing he remembers is that he had been handcuffed and was sitting in the back seat of a Highway Patrol car.  Dave eventually convinced the cop that he was not drunk.  Dave got a ride home and the VW went to a wrecking yard.

The next time I was selling at the gun show, Dave and his friends came by my table.  I walked the show with Dave and his friends for a while. They were real pushy with Dave and usually had him surrounded by them as they ushered him around.  One of the guys explained that Dave was prone to just drift off and get lost.  He said Dave was easily distracted by shiny objects.  As we passed a table full of Barbie dolls, the guy I was speaking with loudly said, Dave, look, Barbies.  Dave rushed to the table and couldn't be pried away from it.  He never had any interest in Barbies but the excitement in his friends voice was all that Dave needed to have an interest or infatuation with the dolls. 

I sold at the gun show in Pomona for eight and a half years.  I only sold on Friday and Saturday because the  Sunday show was not very good for selling.  On Sunday I went to the show but not to sell.  My friend Mike could only go on Sunday and Dave wanted to go with us.  When we got to the show, we briefed Dave.  We made him write down the parkinglot space where we parked.  We made him write down the time of 5:30 pm when we would leave the show, with or without him.  We told him that the number one rule was that he was not to leave any building without us.  This was repeated several times.  Dave ran into one of his studio friends and handed me his Auto Mag to hold for him.  He had taken it to the gun show to wear in his hip holster.  The next time we looked, Dave was gone.  We scoured the building and found no Dave.  We walked the rest of the show and found no Dave.  The last shows here at the LA County fairgrounds had nine and a half miles of tables.  We stood by the exit and polled people as to what we should do about a lost child so to speak.  At 5:30 there was no Dave at the car.  We waited until about 5:50 and didn't leave the parking lot until 6:00. 

The phone started ringing about 9:30 when the show closed.  I wouldn't pickup.  The next afternoon Dave called from his apartment and he was mad at us.  He had to take several different busses and had to sleep on a bus bench until the busses started running this morning.  I told him he was lucky.  How was I lucky he asked.  I told him he was lucky I was holding his Auto Mag or they wouldn't have let him on the bus. 

When I asked Dave why he left the building we were in without us, he replied that he didn't leave the building.  He only stepped outside the building to lay down on a bench where he fell asleep.  Dave started to tell me that he was at the car at 5:30 but we weren't there. I told him we were there and that he shouldn't tell such a story.  It turned out that he had walked the show with his friends until it closed.  He only started calling me once he discovered that his friends had no room for him in their car.   

I was working in Japan and received a two week trip back to the States to resolve a union problem.  I had a rental car and I wanted to go on a camping trip.  My old friend Mike was up for the trip and Dave asked if he could also go along.  Having seen how Dave camps, I told him he could sleep in the back seat of the car.   I verified that Dave had enough money for food and I volunteered my ice chest for Dave to use.  We drove to a store in Dolan Springs, Arizona where we stocked up with groceries and beer.  We drove out into the desert and found a good place to camp near Red Lake, north of Kingman.  Again, Dave had only bought candy and had it all eaten before we got to the camping site.  Dave had to defecate but he went less than 40 feet out of camp to do it.  It was dark but the campfire and the moon lit-up Dave so he was in full view.  We told him to move farther out of camp but we were ignored.  Mike and I had the same idea and we both started firing bottle rockets at Dave.  He finally moved but was really mad at us for firing the bottle rockets at him. 

I went for an evening hike.  I went about a mile out of camp and then circled our position.  When I came back, Mike was laughing and Dave had wandered off somewhere.  Mike said that Dave was hungry.  With me out of camp, Dave went through my food and snagged a can of chili with no beans.  He told Mike he was going to eat it after he warmed it in the fire.  Mike cut the lid on the can but left it attached to the can to use as a handle.  Dave tore off the lid.  He put the can in the fire.  As expected, the cylinder of chili started to rise out of the can.  Mike told Dave to poke a hole in the chili with a stick to prevent it from rising out of the can.  Dave argued that he wasn't going to put a dirty stick into his chili.  The cylinder of chili rose out of the can and fell into the fire.  Dave cleaned up the evidence and later denied that he had taken my can of chili.

Dave slept in the car that night.  Later, Dave moved the ice chest into the car so he could eat whatever he could find in it.  During the night, Dave had somehow removed the drain plug from the ice-chest which soaked him and the entire back seat.  Dave complained that he was wet and cold. 

Poor Dave continued to borrow money and always promised repayment in 45 days.  I now had two Whitney Wolverines, an Auto Mag, a Luger and a Bren Ten.  Instead of paying me back, Dave tried to work out a deal where I would take the $500 owed for the Luger and apply the loan on the Bren Ten to the Luger so he could get the Bren Ten back.  I said no because as of this time, Dave had not paid back any money to me, and he never did.  I decided to get Dave a job at the animation company I was working for, Creative Presentations.  We were gearing up for another big project and the company was hiring talent for sculpting and in the plastics shop.  I told Dave that I wanted him to get a job so he could pay me back on his loans and get his guns back.  Dave said not to worry because he was to receive a large check.  I made an appointment for Dave to interview with the company.  Dave said ok and added that he had received his check and had the money to pay off the loan on the Bren Ten.  He said he really needed it back because he only owned half of it. 

The day of the interview, Dave never showed up.  He never called and didn't answer his phone.  He called me that evening to tell me what a lucky guy he was.  He was lucky that a friend called to let him know that his membership in a Star Trek organization was about to expire.  Dave was able to pay full fare to get into the last day of a Star Trek convention to renew his membership.  There was also news that Dave had spent all of his money and couldn't pay me back.  He wanted to know what time the next day he should show up for the interview.  I told him that I was told he would not be considered for any position with the company.

Dave continued to beg for the Bren Ten.  I told him to contact his friend, who owned half of the gun and see if he wanted to pay me back what he, Dave had borrowed on it.  I got no answer so I told him I was going to sell the gun.  Again no answer.  I sold the gun to a gun writer in Capistrano Beach, California.  Dave drove to Capistrano Beach and broke down in tears as he begged the gun writer to just give him the Bren Ten.

David is presently living with his mother in San Diego, CA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An armed society is a polite society.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TRX302 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Jul 2021 at 9:47pm
I think I know that guy...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jul 2021 at 2:06am
Good lord, what a trainwreck...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KMP Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jul 2021 at 8:10pm
Oh, so many memories of Poor Dave. The stories were never ending. Bruce, you summed up Dave's life perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

Eric
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dances with AutoMags Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jul 2021 at 10:27pm
Hey TRX 302 Dave, Andy C and Eric.  Eric, thank you for your words about this writing.  I believe you met Poor Dave several times at the gun show.  If you can remember any Poor Dave stories, I'd like to read them.  He was a likeable guy who may have been an idiot-savant.  I hope the best for everyone.....Bruce
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