Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dead Man's Gun

Or dead woman's gun...the 1873 38/40 in my arms belonged to Calamity might have been one of her prop guns, that she had her picture taken with, then sold to newbies in the Black Hills...easier than whoring, I suspect.

This is one of Wild Bill's guns, an 1860 Colt conversion that I was privileged to hold, albeit with gloves.

I don't mean to go all metaphysical here, but for those of us in this culture, the gun culture, these guns carry the weight of history, much like one of the legendary "named" samurai swords. The swords are called the "soul of the samurai" and are considered national treasures in Japan. Perhaps a gun like this conversion should be thought of as the "soul of the frontiersman" and be considered a national treasure in America.

When I hefted the gun and bought it to a firing grip. I felt...something. Sure, it's all in my head, but all I could think of was that this gun was the working tool of a man of honor, in a time when honor mattered. It was the working tool of a man who chose to life not only of adventure, but ultimately of service...a man who helped open the West to civilization while closing it for men like himself. It was a gun with stories it can never, would never tell. Ultimately, our history is written in steel, and I fear we have forgotten the language.

-- Post From The Road


Carteach0 said...

You share the thoughts of many. 'Weight of History' is an excellent way to describe it. While it may be in our own minds, understanding and feeling the history behind what we hold is part of the magic. Whether it's a worn and storied vintage firearm, or simply an ancient book that's spent 100 years traveling the world, the objects cause us to think and feel.

It's a human thing, and I pity those who don't understand it.

Kansas Scout said...

I can relate to the feeling you had holding that pistol. Wild Bill has always been my favorite Wild West pistolero. I have been to his grave twice and live near Monticello ks and formerly near Springfield Mo, both sites related to him.
He apparently used to spend his off time here in KC and on at least one occasion put on a shooting exhibition in the area we now know as the "River Market".
Lucky you to get to hold these guns

Overload in Colorado said...

Being able to hold History is amazing. When you think about it, most of the artifacts of history are weapons. Brutus' dagger, the gun that shot Franz Ferdinand, the Spear of Longinus, the sword of Charlemagne.

I went to the 5th Floor Museum in Dallas a few years back. They had many artifacts, but not the rifle, which I understand is in storage at the Smithsonian.

There's a King Tut exhibit in Denver this summer. I wonder if anything there will have that feeling?

Trevor Montroy said...

I agree. National Treasure. Totally. said...

Thank you for this article, quite effective data.