You'll shoot your eye out, kid!


Back Friday evening from a short trip to Rogers, Arkansas, where we spent Thanksgiving Day with my wife's family. After the threat of snow on Wednesday, the weather was nice, with blue skies and beautiful sunsets.

Friday afternoon, my wife and I took a walk around downtown Rogers. Although Rogers must be one of the worst-planned cities in America, turning two decades of phenomenal growth and prosperity into ugly strip development that would make notably foul-mouthed urban critic Jim Kunstler invent new swear words and that will create traffic nightmares for years to come, Rogers has managed to preserve its old downtown. Not only are most of the 1890s buildings intact, they are filled with shops, offices, restaurants, and one interesting museum.

Downtown Rogers is home to the Daisy Museum, which displays the history of the famous air gun manufacturer, founded in Plymouth, Michigan, but since the late '50s based in Rogers. It's a well-organized and nicely displayed collection. As you'd expect the museum displays just about every product Daisy ever made, as well as air guns from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Even if you don't care about the guns, it's worth the visit to see the ads on display -- ads that put Daisy's products in the context of the hopes and dreams of American boys. There were ads for the Red Ryder carbine. For a 3-cent stamp, the ad explained, a boy could send off for a "Christmas reminder kit" -- cards with preprinted messages to Dad explaining the benefits of buying a Red Ryder carbine for you for Christmas. Leave one under the milk bottle or in Dad's easy chair.

Daisy didn't just target kids with their pitches: There was a cartoon ad showing a party of grownups happily firing a Daisy Targeteer, a low-powered air pistol, at a "targette", right there in the living room. Wifey sends hubby out for sandwiches -- the guests are having too much fun to leave.

(I wonder if Lileks has any Daisy ads in his collection. Maybe he can combine a visit to the museum with a tour of the bunny-sundering plant a few blocks away.)

In anticipation of Christmas, a leg lamp (the sort made famous in the movie "A Christmas Story") is on display in the front window of the museum, next to a special collector's edition set of Red Ryder and Little Beaver guns.

Also on display was Daisy's "American Boys' Bill of Rights":

WE, THE BOYS OF AMERICA - believe in these our rights: The right to Liberty, hard won by our forefathers + the right to happiness that comes with the growth of a healthy body & mind + the right to training, thoughtfully planned by parents, school & church + the right to opportunity, to live, learn, play and grown up in the time-honored traditions of a free people + and the right to learn to shoot safely. We recognize and accept the responsibility imposed by those Rights. But until we are old enough to vote we expect YOU, our fathers and mothers and other citizens who elect America's city, county, state & federal officers + to be eternally vigilant that our Rights be not abridged!

Daisy had marketing tie-ins not only with Red Ryder (comic strip and western movie series), but with Buck Rogers and Disney, too. There's a cute picture of Bobby and Annette in cowboy duds with Daisy guns in their holsters.

Daisy is still making guns, although they moved production from Rogers to Neosho, Missouri, some years ago.

A few doors down from the Daisy Museum is the old Victory Theatre. Not that many years ago it was a flea market -- used books, antiques, old records. Now it has been splendidly restored and is home to the Rogers Little Theatre.

Over on 1st Street, there's the Iron Horse Coffee Company, which has WiFi as well as coffee.

We walked into a western store and saw signs of the changing demographics of the area. The local Spanish language radio station was playing, and many of the displays for the cowboy duds were in Spanish rather than English. A mile or so west on Walnut, the Harp's Supermarket -- a typically sized supermarket from the '60s, part of a long-established area chain -- is now Harp's Supermercado. Panaderias are sprouting up around town, too.

We saw more than we wanted of the hideous strip development that now links Bentonville and Rogers along old US 71 as we looked for a place to eat lunch. The Thai restaurant we wanted to try was closed for the weekend, the AQ Chicken House in Bentonville appears to have burned to the ground, Doe's Eat Place was closed -- perhaps not open for lunch -- and we ended up in Abuelo's Mexican Embassy.

Liquor-by-the-wink is alive and well in Benton County. As we entered Abuelo's, we were asked for our membership card. I said we had no intention of ordering alcohol, but in a "dry" county, only private clubs can sell alcohol, and you can't enter a private club without being a member. So we had to fill out a slip of paper (the membership application) at the hostess' station before we were admitted. Many restaurants in the area have message boards with the legend, in very small type, "Attention Members and Guests" -- since a private club would not be advertising to non-members, right?

That's all for now. Light blogging over the next couple of days, as job demands take over. Thanks for your patience.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 27, 2004 1:32 AM.

Show your support for Ukraine was the previous entry in this blog.

Ukraine update is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]