This is only marginally about guns, but I like it, so I’ll pass it along. On July 4, 1976, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming dedicated the arrival of the Winchester Firearms Collection to the center, and it was a Great Big Deal. The governor of Wyoming was there, and various astronauts, professional athletes, captains of industry, etc. And as a sop to the lower classes, Winchester flew up a bunch of writers, including myself, from Denver, to report on the goings-on.
At the time, Cody airport was extremely small, and most of the town’s people were assembled in two lines at the entrance. So as each of us stepped through the door, our name would be announced, and our home town, and there would be a polite spattering of applause.
As I stepped through the door, I heard the loudspeaker say: “And from New York City, Field & Stream’s managing editor Dave Petzal…”
And the people went ape. Strong men wept. Women fainted. Babies puked. I started to swell up like a toad. “Hot damn,” I remember thinking, “I’m home.”
And then I happened to look behind me. John Wayne had stepped through the door a little ahead of cue, just as they announced me. I deflated plenty damn quick. But I’m still a John Wayne fan. He was bigger in real life than he was on screen. And if you haven’t been to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, you are culturally deprived; it’s a marvel. Or you can simply wander the streets of Cody, watching insanely rich people try to pass themselves off as just plain ranch hands.