The Silver Ridge Gun Man
By Dave O'Connor

Fred Goodwin is known far and wide as "the gun man". He was born January 3, 1909 and I believe he must have started in the gun trade within a few years of that. I have known him since the 1950s and he was a veteran of the Alaskan Highway...Alcan construction in 1942 and was a veteran gun trader back then. His base of operation has always been Goodwin's Store on Silver Ridge. Back in the '50s it was run by brother Kike and his wife Iva. Fred was the gun gatherer, the walking pawn shop for chainsaws, tools and other useful...momeymaking stuff. When I was visiting him recently I was commenting on his huge gun stock of long ago when Iva piped in with."At 98 1/2 he still has a whole bunch of Winchester classics in the back rooms." I went to look, sure enough Fred's still selling classics on a nationwide basis. He advertises regularly and still conducts gun business with people from "all over the place."

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To those who know guns in northern Maine they probably remember Fred from his constant travels around Aroostook, Washington, Piscataquis, and northern Penobscot counties where he was, "Always lookin' for good deals...guns a man can sell for a dollar or two extra. You know." Yeah, I know. I still have some guns I bought from Fred in the 50s and I'm sure he made a dollar or two. There was a time when Fred used to advertise weekly in THE SHOTGUN NEWS, a 100 page classified ad filled newspaper that was widely circulated in the gun trade. He made deals in Montana, Alaska and Georgia but he always made deals in Patten and Millinocket, too.In the early 60s while I was a student at the University of Maine in Orono. and had about 20 cents in my pocket, I would make the trip from Orono north to Silver Ridge, about 80 miles one way on Route 2, with a carload of fellow "gun nuts"(we could share the cost of 25 cent a gallon gas) and plan on talking guns with Fred for an hour or so. It was always a day's trip and we always brought "trading material" to make things more interesting. Sometimes we bought something, sometimes we traded guns, sometimes we just told wild stories about shooting matches, turkey shoots or hunting and trapping. Fred was never boring.

Now, approaching 100 Fred is still as sharp as a tack mentally. His body is aging but his sense of wit and story telling is filled with details and plans. I asked about his Winchesters from the 1800s and he said," They've gotten a triffle more costly and rare these days. I don't make scouting trips any more but I still read the gun trade papers and look for a bargain." In the back room I saw nothing priced at less than $1500. and asked about buying a .32/40 like my father used to have. Fred said," Well, I'll tell ya young man, the market for 32/40s in the 94 is high in demand and low in numbers available. It will cost you either 4 or high 5 figures but I've got a good supply." My wife Nancy said it was time to leave, we had been there for 4 hours then.

Dave O'Connor is an award-winning writer with more than 43 years of writing experience. He is an avid photographer, camper and arctic adventurer with more than 160 trips to the continent's most northerly reaches. He can be found yeararound on the internet at davewriter@ainop.com.


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