Sunday, October 27, 2013

Old Daisy, Old Friend

I'm far off my gardening track here, but I've been spending time with an old friend and thought I should introduce him to the rest of you.  I haven't seen him in years, decades actually, until recently, but he was a companion as tried and true blue as I ever had, and I noticed a few weeks back that the years haven't been kind to him.  Like many of us in our late 40's and 50's, he's become worn and dented in spots, squeaking here and there, missing some original parts, and he seems a little short of breath.  I write, of course, about my childhood BB gun, a Daisy Model 99 Target Model.  It's been banished to the basement for far too many years and I decided it might appreciate a little sprucing up and tender loving care in return for providing some of the best days of my childhood.

Daisy Model 99 target airgun, scarred, rusted, and missing the peep sight and the stock medallion.

Stock closeup, missing medallion
It seems horrible now, in these ecologically-minded times, to speak of it, but this old Daisy and I are responsible for deaths of hundreds of birds in the late 1960's.  "Murderer!"  "Genocidal Maniac!"  I hear now the accusations of my adult conscience, even while my child-like subconscious tries to console me. "They were only sparrows."  "None of them were on the Endangered List."  In my defense, the slaughter was carried out with my mother's urging and support, an excuse that seems a little lame after Anthony Perkin's portrayal of Norman Bates has become such a classic and well-known movie character.  You see, our farmhouse was surrounded by mature Silver Maples, thick shelter where hundreds of sparrows roosted every night, and Mom hated them and she hated the bird poop on the walkways and patios, the never-ending stream of goop coming from the trees.   Mom's solution was to provide her eight year old son with a BB gun, an infinite supply of  BB's, and a clear order not to shoot at the windows of the house or barns.  Today she'd probably be locked up for contributing to the delinquency of a child just for providing the gun.

The medallion is back!  And how nice the natural stock looks!
So shoot we did, the innocent rifle, and I, the killer ape-child, for hours on end.   Like many young boys of that era, I was, for a time, John Wayne and Davy Crockett and Teddy Roosevelt, all rolled up into the body of a skinny child of single-digit age.  Today's children know the mayhem of video games and exploding zombies.  I knew only the thrill of the hunt and the fleeting guilt inspired by the dead sparrow at my feet.  My poorly-developed accuracy was not really much of a threat to any given individual bird, but the Law of Averages eventually provided a substantial body count for my mother to praise.  I wasn't malicious either and I never shot at friends or pets or cars.   Contrary to the fears of MAIG mayors and hand-wringing psychologists, neither my BB gun nor my love of Bugs Bunny cartoons made me into a serial killer or homicidal maniac.  To my knowledge, the only lasting effect from the carnage is that I feel guilty every time I hear the classic hymn "His Eye Is On The Sparrow."

Much better!
 Anyway, over the past few weeks I've cleaned up the rust, sanded and stained the stock, put on a new peep sight, and replaced the inner seals on my old pal, and it now shoots as good as new.  I've got a little work left to do on the bluing.  You would think that it would be hard to find parts for a 30 year old airgun, but true to the Internet's function of connecting people with similar interests, I've found there are a number of individuals who specialize in these old rifles.  One phone call to Baker Airguns in Ohio and, after personal attention from the owner, I had the proper parts and a manual and the tools to do a bit of minor gunsmithing.  It's shiny now, and functional, and whole again, and if I can't fix up my own body as well as I did this airgun, at least I can pretend to be young at heart with it.  I promise that I will only shoot paper targets with it from here on out. 



  1. You did a great restoration job, and I loved hearing the memories your BB gun resurrected. That was the transition from boyhood to man, when a boy received a gun. It's hard to believe how different times were from then to now. Now, I guess they become a man when they get their own Ipad?

    1. Thanks for the laugh, Holley. Yeah, manhood via Ipad, that’s the ticket. Ranks right up there with the “man-scented hand lotion” I just saw advertised. I shouldn’t laugh at the latter, though, since my garden-rough hands and elbows could probably use it.

  2. In my garden and at my age (mid 50's) I have bought and put to good use a BB pistol. You see, the deer in the city are quite tame and need to be reminded that homo sapiens is to be feared, or else all the colored buds and open blooms in the rose garden end up in a deer belly. The BB does not pierce the skin, but it does make the too-tame deer jump and run. And stay away for a while.


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