To All RSA Members,
This is my first column to you as President of the Remington Society of America. Even though I count many of you as my friends, I know that even more members only know me as a faceless Editor of the Remington Collector’s Journal. Therefore, I want to take this time to introduce myself to you… tell you something of my background… and share with you my initial thoughts of where the Remington Society should go.
I have enjoyed guns all my life, from my first BB gun at age eight (carefully hidden from my mother), competitive target shooting with the Boy Scouts, on the Varsity Shooting Team in college, as OIC (Officer in Charge) of the Fort Carson Pistol Team while serving in the US Army, OIC of the 1-185th Armor Pistol team during my eight years with the California Army National Guard, civilian NRA target shooting, and my entry into collecting antique weaponry in 1979.
When my eyesight started to go, I turned from competitive pistol shooting to the study of antique weaponry, and published my first book – Spencer Repeat- ing Firearms – in 1985. I published my second book – Hiram Berdan, Chief if SharpShooters and Firearms Inventor – in 1990. In 1996, I was hired by Remington to research and write their first corporate history since the Alden Hatch book was published in 1956. This I completed and the book – Remington – America’s Oldest Gunmaker – was published by the company in 1998. Two smaller books on the Berdan SharpShooters and the history of Remington firearms followed. In 2005, John Gyde and I published our book – Remington .22 Rimfire Rifles, and in 2009, Jay Lewis, Ron Paxton and I published Remington Rolling Block Sporting & Target Rifles. In December, Ron Paxton and I will publish our next book – Colt Brevete Revolvers. Jim Tipton, Bob and Corey Creamer, Gene Myszkowski, Ron and I have been working on our next book – Remington Custom Shop Shotguns & Rifles – for the past two years, and hope to have it completed in a few years.
I joined the Remington Society in 1985, and I clearly remember the early part of the Annual Member’s Meeting when everyone stands and tells the group what type of Remingtons he collects. At that point in time I did not have even one Remington firearm in my collection. Shortly thereafter (with Jay Lewis’s help) I began collecting Remington rolling blocks. Jay and I began a multi-year study of rolling blocks that very same year, with annual research trips back to the Remington Mu- seum… mostly unfruitful, as we were told that the Remington
records no longer existed. It was during one of these trips, in January 1991, when Plant Manager John Winski and Manager Ken Green told us (Slim Kohler, Jack Heath, Jay and myself) that they would take us to “the room that doesn’t exist.” It had this name, we were told, because if we told anyone of its existence the room would be closed to us forever.
We were given one hour in the “room that doesn’t exist,” and what we saw was a triple-locked room with file cabinets and boxes stacked on the periphery, and a pile of papers stacked in the center of the room… maybe 10 feet long by 5 feet wide by 3 feet tall. These, we were told, were the company historical records left after the flood in 1978, when a sprinkler pipe burst and destroyed an untold number of records and artifacts.
I put together a plan whereby if Remington management would permit it, a hand-picked number of researchers would travel once a year to “The Arms” to work on preserving Remington’s records and vintage photographs. The agreement stipulated that our research team would be the only outsiders permitted to work on the records, and in exchange, we would do our best to answer inquiries from those wishing to learn about Remington and its products of the past. This was agreed to, and the Remington Archives Room was established. The Research Team has gone back to “The Arms” every year since… and we have recently completed our 21st year doing so.
In 1991, I took over the duties as Editor of the RSA Journal, which began as an 8-page publication. I am in my 22nd year as Editor of the magazine, which is now called the Remington Collector’s Journal… now about 70-pages in length.
I know that I walk in the footsteps of the presidents that came before me, and I can only strive to maintain the high standards each of them made to our 31 year old organization. My immediate goals are modest, but I do want to help the RSA to establish a historical foundation, so that the huge amount of Remington-related files, photographs, records and artifacts that I have gathered from the past 27 years can be protected for future generations. The Archives now measures more than 150 linear feet of material, and is the largest, organized grouping of Remington history in existence.
As you see, I have decided to call my closing remarks
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