Over the past week, things in the White Household have been a bit crazy. It all started around 5:00am on Christmas Eve when my wife woke me up and told me that she was in labor. We weren’t expecting the baby for another few days but, our little girl was ready and there was no stopping her.
A few hours later our daughter was born and all of our holiday plans were postponed. Ever since my wife and daughter have come home from the hospital, we’ve been slowly getting caught up on those postponed holiday plans.
Last night, my side of the family came over to visit. While exchanging gifts, my Grandmother handed my oldest daughter a small package. She watched as my daughter opened it, leaned in to explain the significance, and told her to show it to me.
Inside the package was a Wapiti Archers of Pennsylvania Belt Buckle. In 1986, Wapiti Archers had 250 of these belt buckles made to commemorate the club’s 30th Anniversary. As a kid, with the archery club being a big part of my life in the late 80’s, I was no stranger to this particular belt buckle. My father had one, my grandfather had one, several of the club members had them – they were somewhat common to see around the club at that point in time.
The significance of this particular belt buckle was on the back. Scribed on the number plate was 4 of 250. This wasn’t a spare that my grandfather bought (and he bought several of them), this was one of the first to be sold and it belonged to my grandmother. It was the belt buckle that she used on her quiver.
Later that night, when everyone said their goodbyes, I sat down with my Daughter and showed her the belt buckle again. I told her that I remembered seeing them when I was a kid and that I even had one with my archery stuff in the basement.
At 7-1/2 years old, she was having a hard time seeing the significance of the gift. In my eyes – my Grandmother (The first generation of Archers in our family) had handed down a personal gift to my daughter (a third generation Archer in our family). I hope that when my daughter is a little older, she learns to appreciate the gift as much as I did.
After our little talk, I got curious and headed down into the basement. I opened up my late grandfather’s bow case and started looking around. His Wapiti Belt Buckle (which I remember being on his quiver when I was a child) wasn’t with the rest of his equipment. Due to his level of involvement with the club, I would guess that his belt buckle was the first or second one purchased.
The belt buckle that I do have was most likely purchased as a spare at some point in time. It is numbered 153 of 250.
While we were exchanging gifts, earlier that evening, my Grandmother handed me a small package of my own. Inside was a much different belt buckle. It was also from Wapiti Archers but it looked to be much older. It wasn’t as fancy as the 30th Anniversary Belt Buckle, the metal was worn and scratched from use, and I immediately recognized it as being my grandfather’s.
Seeing these things have left me with some mixed emotions. A part of me wants to re-join Wapiti Archers and show my daughter where I shot my bow when I was her age. Between the expense of membership and distance away from home – I can’t justify the cost (not to utilize the club a few times per year).
I’m also a bit sad – I regret not spending more time with my grandfather before he passed away. I wish my daughter would have been able to meet him and I’m sure he would have loved to see her enjoying the sport that he taught his grandchildren.