A pawn shop in Gallup, New Mexico. Photo: Thomas Hawk

Johnny Rustywire: A visit to a pawn shop rekindles memories of making jewelry

Before he was a celebrated writer, Johnny Rustywire, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, made a living as a silversmith. A visit to a pawn shop rekindles some memories:
My uncle Bruce Harvey was quite good and my aunt gave me some of his tools. The stamps in particular were well made and the patterns looked good stamped into the silver.

There was a silversmith by the name of Jimmie Harold. He was an old man but he was friendly. He knew my Uncle Bruce.

They had worked together in Tucson after the war in the curio shops there, making all sorts of jewelry over the years. They carried their hand bags to work, a collection of tools used every day. Sitting there making buckles, bracelets, bolo ties, spoons, forks, concho belts and all sorts of rings.

Jimmie Harold told me about how they worked for this shop and that one over the years. By the time I moved to Tucson, Uncle Bruce was gone. He had been hit by a car crossing the road in front of the Veterans’ Hospital.

He was a skinny guy, from Shiprock originally, and wore a back brace to support him. When we were kids, he showed us his bullet wounds, scars from the South Pacific that left their marks on his back. As long as I can remember. I always saw him in a good mood, easy going and never getting angry. A gentle person.

These things came to mind as I looked at that bracelet. He told me that some of the things you make will go places you never will, so let it go and free yourself from it.

Read More on the Story:
Johnny Rustywire: Old Indian Pawn and Reconnecting With the Past (Indian Country Media Network August 18, 2017)