As if it needs pointing out, NRA folk are among the most friendly anywhere!
So we visited the arch and at the top, we met up with a couple other NRA members as well. We started talking to the New Jersey contingent [middle red shirt and black/grey jacket] comparing notes from the meeting. They'd been to the 2009 Phoenix meeting and 2010 Charlotte but skipped Philadelphia last year. This year they upgraded to Benefactor members. Houston will be a bit too far next year but are already planning on Indy in 2014. They are falling into a nice "every other year" pattern.
The Idaho gentleman [purple shirt] and son on the right heard the conversation and joined in. [rats I cut off his son from the picture. Sorry, my bad]. He bought his life membership during his sophomore year with the proceeds of collecting hay in the fields. His mom thought he was nuts spending his hard earned money ($200 back then) on such a frivolous purchase. I suspect few financial advisors could come up with a better investment today!
We six spent a good 20 minutes at the top of the arch talking guns & stuff. Idaho son hunts and shoots anything he can get his hands on. He was also sporting a broken leg. I asked if he had a good story to tell. He didn't - I suggested he work on that. It really doesn't matter if it's true, the tale just needs to be long and entertaining ;-). Dad reports he has about another 3 1/2 weeks in the cast. I think he was embarrassed by the attention. That was not my intent. Rather I hope we made him feel included and at home in the NRA family.
The camaraderie continued back in the base of the arch. We met a man riding a scooter in the gift shop who had been at the meetings. He asked if we had seen any of the meetings and speeches. I mentioned live blogging Friday's celebration of American Values and the SCSon's photog experience. Turns out he was up front in his scooter and remembered seeing a young boy walk up with the press pool escorted by the SS, with equal parts surprise and awe. The 2+2 moment was an all around win!
Good people all around. And I'll bet we were not the only ones with an impromptu meetings [anywhere] This one happened to be at the top of the arch. We met others at breakfast in the hotel. Impromptu's work because they are not planned. Anything planned takes up too much room.
See Y'All next year in Houston! [more STL NRA content to come]