Having recently overindulged on the leftovers of the traditional family Christmas Eve dinner and wanting to do a little research into the old camera he’d received as a present, a special deputy Observer was parked on Main Street in downtown North Little Rock a little before 1 p.m. on Christmas Day, taking advantage of the city’s free wireless Internet service while his companion made some headway on a counted cross stitch project. (Yes, in a parked car, on Main Street, on Christmas Day. When you can’t get online at home, sometimes you have to make special arrangements.)
Anyway, there they were, enjoying the spring-like weather and being productive when a jogger appeared down the road. As he got closer, he started to look … familiar. As he moseyed past at a slow but steady pace, Deputy Observer and his companion looked at each other. “Was that …?” the companion started to ask. “Yep,” said The D.O. “I guess when you’re running for president, Christmas Day is the only time you can go jogging without the press chasing after you.” The two Main Street loiterers went back to their respective projects, and the candidate made his way up to around Sixth Street before turning off and vanishing among the Argenta storefronts.
Time on our hands, The Observer was strolling around downtown Rogers and came across the Daisy Airgun Museum. A happy discovery.
An air gun is more commonly referred to as a BB gun, and there was a time when every American boy wanted a Daisy BB gun, the Red Ryder model, for Christmas. That time was re-created in the popular movie “A Christmas Story.” In acknowledgement, a net-stocking-clad-woman’s-leg lamp, like the one in the movie, sits in the museum lobby.
The Daisy company moved from Michigan to Rogers in the 1950s. The museum is only a few years old. It contains a big collection of air guns of all types, some dating as far back as the 1600s. These old air guns were not toys, the guide explains, but weapons used by real soldiers. The air gun couldn’t shoot as far as the standard gunpowder weapons, but it could do deadly harm at close range, it was silent and it could be fired more rapidly than a normal gun of the time. It’s said that Napoleon hated air guns and executed enemies who were caught using them. An old artillery man, he evidently thought silent sniping was unsportsmanlike.
Examples of the air guns used in Olympic competition are here too, and there’s a lot of nostalgic stuff from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, old Red Ryder comic books and such. The Daisy Museum is worth observing.
A post from the birder listserv in Arkansas put folks on notice last week that a Harris hawk, a Western hawk that’s dark brown with red shoulders and a white-tipped tail, is on the loose in Central Arkansas. A falconer lost it. “Feel free to try to catch it by grabbing its jesses with one hand while holding a dead mouse or dead quail or other appropriate food item in your other hand (do not let go of food item ’til his jesses are firmly in your grasp),” read the post. “It may also respond to whistling.”
Jesses are not a part of bird anatomy, but the leather straps the falconer uses to tether the bird.
A follow-up post, in response to a question about what to whistle, suggested “Three Blind Mice.”
A HAM employee tells The Observer that, at the museum’s Nog-Off, a contest pitting eggnog recipes at the 2nd Friday Art Night event in December (reported on in an earlier Observer column), a woman who declined a cup of the rich intoxicant whispered in her ear a secret: She was a teensy bit pregnant. Her due date was in August.
She was telling the right person. The employee — whose nog she’d offered was her own mother’s recipe — had been in exactly the same situation: pregnant at Christmas, due in August. She hadn’t been able to keep the secret from the family, though. The jig was up when her mother put two and two together (or one and one): None but the pregnant would turn down her nog.