It has become, it appears, a tradition – every year one of the cable TV stations runs a marathon of the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. Based on Jean’s Shepherd’s wonderful book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, it tells the story of a young boy who wanted for Christmas “a Red Ryder range model carbine with a compass in the stock and a thing that tells time.” Every time he expresses his heartfelt desire to an adult, he receives the rejoinder: “you’ll shoot your eye out.”
If you haven’t seen A Christmas Story, do your utmost to see it. You’re in for a treat.
It’s been said that life imitates art, and that’s certainly true of A Christmas Story. When Shepherd consulted with folks at Daisy about the film, they told him that he had not remembered correctly, that he had confused the Red Ryder and the model 107 Buck Jones, which had the compass and sundial. Shepherd insisted he was right. Daisy made a sample for him and then decided to actually produce Red Ryder air rifles with the compass and sundial in 1983 and 1984. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these rare models, just remember: it came after the movie.
There is a scene near the end of the movie in which Christmas has come, all the presents have been opened, and Ralphie has not received his BB gun. Then his Dad says, “What’s that over there?” It turns out to be the Red Ryder, what Ralphie says is “the best present I have ever gotten.”
The same thing happened to me, well before the movie was ever made. I was ten, sitting in the living room with my Dad. The opening of presents was over, and I was disappointed. I hadn’t gotten my BB gun. But, just like in the movie, my Dad said, “Wait a minute, there’s another present over here.”
And he pulled a long, slim box from behind the couch. In it was my first Daisy. It was beginning of many happy hours for me and my Dad. It was a Daisy Pump 25. We shot it into cardboard boxes in the basement of the apartment building where we lived. I remember the thrill when I smacked a small, pocket-sized matchbox with a BB and got it to tumble through the air.
I took that BB gun with me went I spent summers in Vermont with my grandparents. The boy across the road had a Daisy Red Ryder, and we spent many a happy day roaming the woods and fields with our BB guns. I can’t even begin to count how many tubes of BBs I ran through that Pump 25, but eventually the internal parts became so worn that it would automatically discharge a BB as soon as the pump handle was returned to its original position. This, however, did not deter me: I would make like The Rifleman – bang-bang-bang-bang!
Eventually that Pump 25 was retired, but it was beginning of a lifetime of shooting enjoyment and – eventually – to me writing this blog.
If you have any great airgunning memories – from the holidays or otherwise – and would like to share them for possible use in this blog, you can reach me at jock(dot)Elliott(at)gmail(dot)com I would love to hear from you.
It is my heartfelt wish that all the readers of this blog find peace, love, and joy with family and friends this holiday season. Here at El Rancho Elliott, we celebrate Christmas, but whatever tradition you celebrate, may you and yours be blessed.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
- Jock Elliott