This article was first published March 28, 2018, at sportingclassicsdaily.com.
I’d nearly forgotten.
When the sweet little lady behind the counter handed me the medallion, though, it all came rushing back to me.
Inscribed on the medallion’s face, just below three engraved rifles of stair stepped modernity, was the phrase, “My first gun was a Daisy.” Those words triggered a memory so pure and sweet I was shocked it’d ever been buried.
I’d been watching cartoons in the living room, lounging in my dad’s easy chair, when I heard the front door open. I knew mom and dad had run to Walmart but I had no idea for what. Hoping they might bring me the latest He-Man action figure, I was stunned when my dad walked around the bend in the hall with a rifle cradled in his arms. The rifle was a synthetic stocked, single shot .22 made by Daisy, and it fit and felt like it’d been custom built for me.
Thanks to Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, my preteen heart was already beating to the rhythm of African war drums, but when dad handed me that Daisy I was absolutely transported. I carried that rifle safari style over my shoulder, scanning the dining room for the telltale toss of a lion’s tufted tail. The narrow stairs in our old house transformed themselves into a treacherous mountain pass where I braved the biting cold in search of bighorn sheep, occasionally having to trust the butt of my rifle stock for balance. With that Daisy in my arms, any adventure my mind could concoct was within reach.
Last month I found myself in northwest Arkansas for a speaking engagement, and on a whim I visited the Daisy Airgun Museum in downtown Rogers. I walked the aisles and drank in the displays. I laughed at the Daisy-made Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol and racked my brain trying to remember which model of the Red Ryder carbine my big brother kept in the closet we shared as kids. Never was $2, the price of admission, better spent.
Gun manufacturers make bold claims these days about the quality of their products. They advertise half inch MOAs and promise triggers crisp as fresh fruit. But they say nothing about inspiring dreams in the hearts of aspiring hunters. That’s because Daisy has the monopoly on the market. For most, those dreams took shape with a Red Ryder BB gun. For me, it was that single shot .22.
So if you happen to be in Rogers, Arkansas, make your way over to the Daisy Airgun Museum. It’s easy to find. Just take a stroll down Memory Lane.