The official Bicentennial photographic history book will include both pivotal stories of Hamilton County history as well as vivid stories about important residents who didn't get as much attention — or even want it. This submission by Stephen Brown tells us about just such a person.
Submitted by Stephen Brown
I knew an old man called Two Gun in the early 1950s. He lived in Home Place (now part of the city of Carmel) on Park Avenue where it used to dead-end into the swamp before 108th Street existed. At that time, only three houses were on Park Avenue off 106th Street — the Russell estate on the east side and two concrete block homes on the west side.
Two Gun lived in a Quonset hut next door to a couple named Myers. His actual name was John Brunson. When I first saw him, he was driving a single-axle dump truck heading down Park, and it was full of trash. His top speed I ever saw was about 20 mph, but he preferred a little slower. He used to keep reusable stuff all around his home, which was surrounded by swampy water and willow seedlings.
I remember him picking up trash at the old 1921 school building around 1953. I was in the furnace room vacuuming blackboard erasers to get rid of the chalk dust. John always backed his dump truck through the basement overhead door, dumping the barrels on the floor and scooping it up with a coal shovel, throwing it over his head into the truck bed. John worked constantly — never an idle man. When his mother was alive and living in Zionsville, she wouldn’t allow him in the house unless he was shaved and wearing clean clothes, so once a month he’d bathe, shave, and change into clean clothes to visit his mother.
So, how did he get the name Two Gun? Well, sometime in the 1930s, small town Carmel had a Halloween costume contest with a prize and everyone decided to enter. John came walking down Main Street dressed up as a cowboy, with cowboy hat, boots, vest, and you guessed it, wearing two holsters and two guns. When he got to the Barber Shop there on Main Street, Bill and Buck said, “Hey, look at old John, or should we say Two Gun?” Well, it made John mad as hell, and they never called him anything but Two Gun as long as he lived. Obviously the name stuck, and he finally answered when you spoke to him, as very few even knew his real name. Most of us in Home Place knew him and we all called him John.
Jim Steckley used to own Mister Chicken at 106th Street and College Avenue and relayed this to me recently. He said John would come in on Friday nights and order several large pizzas and big buckets of chicken to go. Jim finally asked him what he was doing with all this food and John told him he was giving it to some needy families he knew and Jim was to “keep his mouth shut about it, it wasn’t anyone else’s business.”
In 1982 John Brunson was recognized for his service to the community and asked to ride in the Fourth of July parade.
Order your copies of Celebrating Hamilton County, Indiana: 200 Years of Change. While the regular submission deadline is past, you can still purchase a page as a Page Patron to make sure the story of your business, organization or family is included. (Patron Page and discounted pre-order deadline is Aug. 5, 2022!)