John Clarke remembers the old days.
I was excited as I headed toward the bus stop. My dad was coming from downtown Denver on the 5:15 and he was bringing home “our” Christmas present. We had been saving our quarters, dimes and nickels so we could get a new .22 rifle. I could see my dad making his way past the other passengers with a Winchester .22 pump in his hand. It was beautiful. We were still saving for a proper case, so he was carrying it openly.
As we walked up the block to our house, we talked to several neighbors as they admired our new rifle. We lived in a densely populated part of east Denver, so we had to wait until the next day to drive to the outskirts of town and shoot, but it was worth the wait. I still own and love that beautiful little gun.
What would happen today if my dad had gotten on an RTD bus in the middle of Denver with a rifle? I can only imagine how many SWAT teams would be involved.
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When I was five or six years old, somebody gave my father an ancient Damascus-barreled 10 gauge double-barrel shotgun. It was intended to be a wall-hanger. Damascus barreled guns were believed back then to be universally unsafe to use with smokeless shotgun shells, and this one was in poor condition. One of the two hammers didn’t cock. The bores were pitted, and the barrels had dents and a certain amount of rust.
My father thought little of the old gun, and he knew perfectly well that I had no possible way of laying hands on any 10 gauge shotgun shells, so before long I had pestered my way into being allowed to appropriate it as a toy. There we were, back in the 1950s, a gang of little kids, playing cowboys and Indians with a motley collection of cap pistols and one enormous antique double-barreled shotgun which any one of us could barely carry.
Can you imagine the adult reaction today to a pack of kids lugging around an enormous old shotgun? Back then, adults just looked on with a smile.