When I was growing up many of us had nicknames. Not from our parents but names our friends called us. Similar to today’s camp names that folks get at a rendezvous. It was a term of endearment. It showed you were part of the group, club or clique if you will. Since I was 15 or 16 years old I was called Gabe or Ol’ Gabe by my friends. Others in my circle had similar names. Dale Halverson was Jake, Jeff Olson was Herb, Jim Nelson was Snels(or “Snelsenitus Mountain Man”), Steve Cecena was Frank, Al Lambert was Omar, Alan Cota was Rawhide, Randy Johnson was John Boy, Steve Jerek was Lou(or Screwy Louie). My name, Gabe came from the nickname of Jim Bridger himself. I had learned of it while reading “Give Your Heart to the Hawks” by Winfred Blevens. When the time came to give me a nickname, I suggested “Gabe” and the other young men in my group of would be Mountain Men took it and ran with it.
Some years later, when I started doing historical re-enactments, I continued to use this name. I still do. I have talked with Al Cota on a semi regular basis over the past years and he still calls me “Gabe” on occasion. A couple of years ago, my cousin Al Lambert sent me a set of his companies drill bits in a personalized box. You guessed it, “Gabe”. Gabe is so well known it is completely second nature for me. I have been Gabe for so long I should probably claim it as an alias. AKA Gabe, that’s me.
In May 2010, while at the Happy Canyon Rendezvous, I couldn’t remember the name of one of the rendezvousers, so I reintroduced myself. He said “I know you, you’re Gabe the Shootist”. So it is and will be. Thanks John.