By Harold Ratzburg
I'd guess that by now, anybody who knows me, knows that I have been a "gun nut" (also known as a "Collector") for all of my life. How that fascination came about is anybody's guess, but there it is and I just have to live with it.
My first memories of a gun comes about in the first and second grades of Maple Valley Grade School in Dupont township.. With imagination of a kid, we kids found that you could fashion a gun of sorts out of a straight stem out of a lilac bush, (of which there were plenty around the school at that time) about seven inches long. What you had to do then was break the stem about three inches from the heavy end into a 90 degree angle and then peel the bark down at the angle and the bark would make a passable trigger guard. That left a barrel about four inches long. Then, armed with this formidable weapon, and if you could holler "Bang, you're dead" first --and loud enough, you could win the schoolyard shoot outs or nail those pesky Redskins hiding out behind the lilac bushes.
As time went on, I got bigger and more trustworthy with a sharp instruments and Dad got me a jack knife down in town at the hardware store. The next step up in the arms department was guns whittled out of cedar shingles. A coping saw helped a lot also, for cutting around the curves of the handle. Shingles were straight grained and easy to whittle and when finished, they didn't break too easy, With a shingle nail for a trigger it made a passable sidearm. You hadda carry it stuck in your belt but a quick draw was still possible.