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Happy Birthday #12 Wyatt
with my 39M!

As a young boy, my dad, Pop, would take my brother Charlie and I to a Woolworth’s store and occasionally buy a lever action Marlin rifle. Pop was not much of a hunter but would buy a .30-.30, .35, 45-70 and pack it into safe storage for hunting trips we would never take because of his work and commitments. I loved the lever action and dreamed of saving the west and helping The Rifleman, rancher Lucas McCain, played by Chuck Connors, thwart off robbers and swindlers. Connors rapid-firing rifle was a Winchester 44-40, 1892 Model, but I loved the “bulls-eye” circle on the butt of those old Marlin rifles, still do, and always leaned him towards the Marlin’s because of it. When I turned 12, Pop wrote a birthday note and handed me one of those Woolworth saddle guns, a .22LR Model 39M.
 
Wyatt, when you were 7, I took you to a local high school basketball game in Middlebury, IN to watch the Northridge Raiders coached by Ronnie Thomas and led by a young superstar Nate Ritchie, Sam Ahonen, ‚ÄúPistol‚Äù Pete Smith and Tom ‚ÄúThe Gun‚Äù Morrison. I watched your eyes as the music started and the Varsity squad took the court and I knew that look. When I was that age, I gazed into the small pool of creek water west of the grain bins on the Zepp farm and saw a pile of minnows swimming around and a fresh set of coon tracks on the bank. I laid on a rock and watched them swim for an hour, fascinated by each flick of the tail and the shapes of the bandit tracks in the mud that were fishing for them. My fate, as was yours with each Ritchie slam dunk that season, was sealed that day and I was never the same. 
 
The 39M walked the hills of southern Ohio with me and took me from childhood to my teens and has followed me around the country in my adult years. Pop ‚Äúcollected‚Äù a lot of land for his dream, Treefine Hereford Farm, and we had literally thousands of acres to shoot bricks of Wildcat .22‚Äôs at every tin can and old TV tube thrown into the now covered up old dump along Twp. Rd 131. My first squirrels, rabbits, grouse, groundhogs and coons were all taken with this rifle. 
 
I should have taken better care of the Marlin. It has some pitting and rust from long nights in the rain when we were caught miles away from the old house on the hill trying to get one more coon treed. I could have spent more time with a dry rag and a little oil, but that is part of the charm in the old gun now. It has played a big part of who I am. Somewhere along the way I put a crack in her stock but she still shoulders and shoots well. The walnut is solid with a quality feel to it. Nobody makes them like that anymore. 
 
Even at your young age, our paths are different as your mom and I run you back and forth from the ball diamond to hardwood court, but someday, when I am long gone, you can look at this old Marlin and know that it brought me many moments of great joy over my lifetime, but none better than passing it on to you for your 12th birthday. Happy Birthday My Boy!

   Much Love
– Dad

 

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