Friday, April 26, 2013

Letters from an Army Officer's Wife, 1877-1888 - Frances Mack Roe

Frances M. A. Roe wearing her husband’s West Point
coatee, pictured with their dog.
I've just finished reading "Army Letters from an Officer's Wife" by Frances Mack Roe (b. 1850 - d. 5-6-1920). Frances was married to Fayette Washington Roe who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in December 1898.  Her letters are long, detailed and well written.

I think she must have been a fascinating person.  Although she appears to have unflinchingly supported her husband's military career and followed him to some rather isolated posts she impresses me as a more "modern" woman. Frances M. A. Roe, born Frances Marie Antoinette Mack (died 6 May 1920) was the wife of U. S. Army officer Fayette Washington Roe, ultimately a Lieutenant Colonel, who was sent to Fort Lyon in Colorado Territory in 1871. She accompanied him and recorded her life during these years in a memoir. While her husband's career has been described as "unremarkable", Roe continues to be known on the basis of her book for the accurate picture of Army life it painted. Black soldiers from this period became known as the "Buffalo Soldiers"; Roe's was the first documented use of the name. Roe said of the Buffalo Soldiers:
These ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ are active, intelligent, and resolute men; are perfectly willing to fight the Indians, whenever they may be called upon to do so, and appear to me to be rather superior to the average of white men recruited in time of peace.
Roe is buried with her husband in Arlington National Cemetery.

Fayette Roe’s family came from upstate New York, though he was born in Virginia. When he graduated from West Point, he married another upstate New Yorker, Frances Mack. Roe’s first post took the couple west to Colorado, and over the next fifteen years, to Montana, Utah, and the Dakotas.

Roe’s military career was an unremarkable series of clerical and administrative posts. He would have passed into obscurity had he not appeared as Frances’s beloved comrade “Faye” in her lively and perceptive account of frontier life, Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife (1909).

Captivated by the beauty of western landscapes, Frances described in telling detail the scenes and events in their army communities. She carefully balanced tales of lively social life with attention to the harsh conditions and isolation that military families endured.

- A Frontier Army Wife

One of the posts to which her husband was assigned was Fort Ellis as shown here...

She also mentions a stint at Camp Supply...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Busy, busy, busy...

Things are hopping around here. We've been busy. Last week we discovered via our water bill that we had a probable leak in the water line from the meter to the house. After we verified this we have been hustling to get the pipe replaced (the current pipe is 87-year old 1/2" galvanized pipe). That process started last evening with the necessary trenching. Today they will run pipe, drill into the basement for the new pipe and hook up the new line to the house. Inspection will likely (hopefully) take place Friday and then we will be able to back-fill the trench and re-pave the sidewalk at the meter. Interestingly, even though it isn't even 1/3rd a cubic yard it must come off a truck as the city will not accept anything else.

Today, I'm working to fill in for my manager (there are only the two of us who work here, it is him or me) and must also work Friday and Saturday as usual. The first thing today our old friend Van "Shorty" S______ came by from West Augusta to ask about our mutual friend/comrade John A______ who recently had a torn aorta repaired.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

Had another interesting if busy day. There were a couple of folks from the military past who came into the shop. First was Gerald S_______ who had been in the 116th Inf Bde (Sep) in 1981 but, we probably only served together about 5 months, and the second was LTC (USA, Ret.) Lamar S____ who had been the Active Army adviser to the Brigade about 1985-87 (I hope I have those dates correct).

Some ammo trickled in. We'd received some .22 LR, 9mm ball, .45 ACP ball, and .38 Special 158 gr. RN but it trickled right back out the door again. We still had 2 boxes of .45 ACP ball (100-round packs) when we closed the doors this evening. We do have a little bit of ammo in reserve for those who buy firearms. We also had 3, 1000-round cases of .223/5.56mm ball but sold one to a fellow from West Virginia. He did NOT speak well of Senator Manchin.

One thing that was particularly interesting today. We had TWO people who are New York state residents stop and marvel at, and buy, some ammunition. Apparently they can't get ANYTHING in their home town areas.

Another big thing today was that we did the transfers for some of this past Saturday night's Friends of NRA dinner. One fellow, who is on the committee, had one his first gun in 20-years! The other had bought 3 guns at the live auction. Speaking of which...

The prices for guns at the live auction were pretty interesting. Here's what got what (gun wise)...
- Kimber Carry II .45 ACP $900.00
- Weatherby Vanguard Series 2 Eurosport .270 Win with Leupold VX III $1650.00
- Kimber M84 Classic Select .257 Roberts $1150.00
- KelTec KSG 12 gauge $1300.00
- Taurus Ultra Lite 85 $550.00
- Springfield M1A $2000.00
- Century Arms Coach Gun (Staunton Commemorative) $1200.00
- Henry Big Boy .44 Rem Mag $475.00
- Henry Golden Boy .22 LR $500.00
- SIG Sauer Navy Seal pistol $1125.00

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jeff Quinn on Price Gouging

Jeff has lots of good info at

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thoughts on "Gun Control" today...

I'd like to think that this would be logically organized and reach a conclusion but I doubt it. So what I'm just going to record my thoughts on this as they occur to me.

This is a subject that has been dominating the news since the morning of 14 December 2012 when a young man first killed his mother then stole her guns which he took to a local elementary school and murdered 26 more people and then killed himself when police arrived and confronted him. While I don't want to dwell on this incident for this post, we do know that this follows what seems to be a standard protocol for such events now. Mentally ill young man on prescribed medication acquires firearms illegally, goes to a location where people are certainly unarmed, murders as many people as he can until confronted by armed resistance at which time he kills himself. We are deeply sorrowful for the families of those murdered but we are not oblivious to the fact that such acts are anomalous. However, that realization is ignored by self-serving, opportunistic, politicians (a charitable term) who didn't let this crisis go to waste and immediately exploited it to advance their agenda to disarm the citizens of the United States. It should be noted that the incident took place at about 0930 and that the President of the United States was making a statement demanding "gun control" at about 1100 that same morning. Since that time those intent on destroying our civil rights have had successes not only in Connecticut where that attack occurred but also in New York, Colorado, and Maryland. While none of the laws passed would have stopped the attack if in force at that time, they do limit the legal access law-abiding citizens have to firearms.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

What I'd like to talk about here is some of the thoughts I've had on the subject. Among the foremost of those "thoughts" is a realization that there isn't another country that acknowledges in writing that its citizens have the right to be armed to resist tyranny by that same government. I've lived long term in one other country and visited others and one can readily see the differences in the expectations and mind-set of the people who live there without this guarantee. First among those is that they realize that they also can suffer the consequences of expressing any political thought and that they are helpless in the face of the government.

That leads me to my next thought and that regards the weapons (the "Arms") protected by the 2nd Amendment. Arms ARE weapons. While we most often think of these as firearms I don't believe that ANY weapon is excluded. The military uses a wide variety of arms from edged weapons to nuclear explosives. If it exists and you can afford it then you should be able to have it. Radical? Hmmmmm, maybe. I know that very often the proponents of arms control for citizens say that when this was written all there were were muskets (a smooth bore flintlock analogous to today's shotgun) but that isn't true. There were rifles which had greater range, there were pistols, swords and cannon. Cannon were often privately purchased and mounted on commercial freighters to defend against piracy. In fact, the US government issued letters authorizing citizens to act as government agencies in making war on enemy shipping, using privately purchased and owned ships, cannon, firearms and edged weapons. To as strictly apply those standards to today's technology US citizens should be able to legally acquire full-auto firearms, artillery, etc. In fact, any available technology. No, we don't allow that. Limitations have been placed on explosives, full-auto firearms (not all that practical for individual users anyway) and swords. Even knives have had limitations codified which prohibit public carry of blades of certain shapes, lengths or folding mechanisms of particular types. Many of those restrictions have their origins in a desire to improve "safety" or "security" initiated by criminal misuse. E.g. the ban on bowie knives originated in the mid-19th century because the blade shape was almost startlingly effective in combat and fully-automatic firearm restrictions were the result of criminal use in the 1930s "gangster" era.

Most recently, the restrictions sought by the controllers have been on what they call "assault weapons" (unless the Department of Homeland Security buys them and then they are Personal Defense Weapons AND fully-automatic). These are semi-automatic firearms which are similar in appearance to military weapons. It is the appearance of these firearms by which they are judged as if appearance makes them more lethal. There is likely much to be discerned about the psychological makeup of people who have reached such illogical conclusions and it is typical of the emotional approach to this subject.

Associated with this is a desire to restrict access to "high-capacity" magazines. Limitations to 10 and 7 round magazines have been made. I have to note that these restrictive laws were passed without sufficient review to preclude such inanities as Connecticut's law which bans NEW magazines holding more than 10-rounds AND, although one can still possess them, prohibits putting more than 10-rounds in magazines of greater capacity as if that would be in any way enforceable. In New York the law was written (perhaps) and passed so rapidly that other inanities resulted. First, police and military weren't exempted. The response was that the police would simply not enforce it for themselves (now isn't that rich?). It also ignores otherwise legal possession by National Guards members. On duty they would be issued such magazines for training but if one finds its way into their gear and is overlooked before they head home after training they are suddenly committing a felony. Also, many, perhaps most, semi-auto box magazine fed firearms have never had 7-round magazines manufactured for them. This would effectively prohibit those firearms.

This brings us to another aspect of this rush to ban items previously legal to own and use. Ex post facto laws (Laws that provide for the infliction of punishment upon a person for some prior act that, at the time it was committed, was not illegal.) are prohibited by Article I, Section 10, Clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution. So far as firearms (and now, magazines) are concerned this was previously avoided by "grandfathering" those items so that those already owned could be kept (albeit with restrictions on use) while only new items of that type were banned. However, there is another disturbing trend which applies to other legislation as well and that is to establish a "privileged class" such as police officers, private security firms, politicians, judges, or those wealthy enough to pay the taxes on these items or to hire those with access to provide personal security.

Further, about owning these firearms prior to bans and 99.9% of the time they have not been misused, why would one think that I can be presumed to be a criminal now? And why, after Haynes vs. the U.S. should I bother to register my firearms or comply with such schemes. Presumably I'm already a criminal (once these laws are enacted) and announcing my ownership, as put forth in the decision, is self-incrimination. Due to this the National Firearms Act was amended to only apply to those who could legally possess, but if nobody can legally possess... More inanity.

Which brought me to this thought, stupid laws are generally ignored and when this is done the eventual response is a general disrespect for the law, i.e. lawlessness. I don't think that this is a condition that we want. We also don't people to avoid treatment for medical conditions because they believe that this will result in the loss of their civil rights. That is another approach, well documented in both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, of labeling "enemies of the state" as psychologically ill, affected, disabled or some other negative context. Since just about any problem today is treated with some sort of medication, it appears that the prescription and use of any of these medications is now grounds for the immediate negation of civil rights, at least of owning a firearm. New York has this in their SAFE act (if ever there was a misnomer...) and have already experienced abuse of the act. Whereas Federal law now says you have to be adjudicated, i.e. judged in court, as mentally incompetent/insane, no such limit exists in New York state law. How wonderful for all those people who were innocently prescribed any number of mild sedatives, sleep aids, etc, who are now subject to the whims of bureaucrats.

Mayor (and BILLIONAIRE, i.e. 1%er) Bloomberg has said, "Number two, I would argue if you want to sell your gun to your son, maybe you have a problem in your family. Why don't you just give—I don't know if you should have a gun or not, but if you have a commercial transaction of $100 with your son, there's something wrong in your family. It's just not something where everybody's pulling together in the same direction." Well, here's the deal. MILLIONS of Americans teach their children personal responsibility (as in not depending on Mr. Mayor for guidance) and one way that's done is teaching financial responsibility. Also, families without $BILLIONS, financially help parents, brothers and sisters, etc., by exchanging money for personal possessions such as guns and cars or businesses. There is NOTHING wrong with such transactions. The truth though is that GIFTS would also have been prohibited. In the language of some such laws, even handing a firearm to a person to teach them about firearm safety would have been a violation. This is just another example of how Mayor Bloomberg doesn't "get" real life.

As the debate continues and the Senate comes to a vote and defeats the measure we discovered a few things that aren't really surprising. First, we discover that the hypocritically elitist view of the subject is pervasive. Supporters of limits such as Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly enjoy shooting, he using a Glock just like the one used to shoot Congresswoman Giffords. His "excuse" was that his only holds 17-rounds (which is a prohibited magazine capacity in NY, CT, CO, and MD) rather than the 33-rounds supposedly used in her attacker's Glock. Not exactly logical but apparently that is the limit of their ability to reason.

Further, and perhaps most striking, is the reaction by the President and others to the bill's defeat. Mr. Obama was angry, outraged even. The actual murder of the school children in Newtown, the public servants in Benghazi, or the race attendees in Boston didn't arouse that ire and indignation. The truth is that the President doesn't care for the people affected what he cares about is how this vote will affect his personal political power. Because of the defeat of the bill in the Senate he won't be able to put the blame on the Republicans in the House of Representatives and that doesn't bode well for the 2014 elections. His is a purely selfish view of events.

Above all, it seems to me that this "discussion" about "gun" control has become an example of the desertion of logic and reason in support of accepting one's civil rights to accepting as laudatory the emotional or hysteric response. I liken it to a wounded child's mother who runs around a room screaming rather than taking the immediate step of applying a pressure bandage to the cut. It also seems that there is no person immune to this hysteria and that even those who initially resisted feel compelled to go along with those panicked fools as if being referred to as "calm and collected" was the worst sort of pejorative. Additionally, there are any number of socialists willing to take advantage of the "crisis", perhaps to exacerbate the "crisis", in order to promote their own circumstances. Although they have come to office portraying themselves as leaders and public servants their interest is purely self interest.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Need your Parker Bros shotgun refurbished?

I think that my Parker might be about ready for a visit to these folks...

A fourth-generation gunsmith, still going strong By Aaron Smith @CNNMoney April 15, 2013: 3:52 AM ET

A single brand of antique shotgun, the Parker, has provided enough work for a family of gunsmiths for four generations, even though it was discontinued more than 70 years ago.

"It's an honor to work on these guns," said Larry DelGrego III, whose great-grandfather, Herman Shura, emigrated from Germany in the early 1900s to begin the family tradition of working on Parker shotguns. "I'm very fortunate that this is something I was born into."

The Parker is a specific brand of break-action shotgun that has a fervent following among hunters and collectors. The cheapest model, the "Trojan," goes for $2,000, while the rarest make is the "Invincible." Only three of them were ever made, and together are valued at $5 million. One Invincible was refurbished by DelGrego III's father, "Babe" DelGrego Jr., who worked on the guns until 1993.

A Parker that's worth $110,000 will cost about $6,000 to refurbish at DelGrego's shop. But he'll charge $2,500 to spruce up a more run-of-the-mill model.

Charles Parker of Meriden, Conn., developed the gun in 1865, as the muzzle-loaders of the Civil War gave way to more advanced breech-loading technology. Shura was hired by him first, and Shura's son, Lawrence DelGrego Sr., started working for the Parker company in 1933. He moved when Remington bought the company five years later to Ilion, N.Y., where Remington still has a gun factory.

Remington stopped making Parkers in 1942, when supplying arms to the military to fight World War II took precedence over shotguns used for hunting. But the DelGregos kept fixing, maintaining and refinishing the guns.

The work they do includes rebuilding a gun's stocks, hardening the frame, blueing the trigger and rebrowning, reboring and repolishing the barrels. DelGrego III said it takes about 50 hours to refinish a gun, and he typically works on eight at a time.

"When the gun leaves here, it's exactly the way it was when it left the Parker factory," said DelGrego, as he worked to removed "100 years of hunting and shooting dirt" from an antique firearm.

DelGrego said his business brings in about $120,000 per year. After expenses he takes home from $30,000 to $50,000 per year, a decent living in this part of upstate New York.

More than 242,000 Parkers were produced during the shotgun's 77-year history. DelGrego says his family has refurbished more than 60,000 of them so far.

DelGrego III's shop is still about a mile from the Remington Arms plant, which was established in Ilion in 1816. He estimates there are at least 40,000 Parkers still in existence that his family has yet to refurbish. Some of that work might fall to the next generation.

His college-aged sons and teenaged daughter have accompanied him in the shop, just as he used to accompany his father.

"They're going to college first," he said, but he doesn't know if there will be a fifth generation gunsmith after he's gone.

"I won't retire," DelGrego said. "I'll work until I'm dead, and they'll worry about it then, I guess."

- Larry DelGrego & Son

Monday, April 15, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

First, I feel very lucky to have been blessed with an opportunity to "work" at a gun shop even if money isn't involved, unless I'm spending it. I get to see some really neat guns, keep up with the pulse and flow of the hobby/industry, and meet some pretty neat people, too.

We have a new gunsmith who is making a conscientious effort to do good work, make certain that the boss makes money and not cheat the customers. However, we don't have him in the shop every weekday but he will be there some Saturdays as he is part-time.

We once again are out of .22 LR other than some match/competition ammo. We might get some more in, we just don't know. There is very little .40 S&W and no .38 Special, .357 Mag, 9mm or .45 ACP. We do have .223/5.56mm and some 7.62x39mm.

While demand for firearms has slackened and prices for ARs have come back down slightly, we still sell every single one we get within 3 days. None sit on the rack for 2 weeks to a month as they did before mid-December.

The biggest news today was the bombings of the Boston Marathon. As I write this there is only a lot of speculation but I'm sure this moment in history will be another reference point in this rather turbulent period.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Notes from the gun shop...

The ammo shortage continues. While firearms continue to move through the supply chain they aren't hanging around in the shop(s). Good guns are gone quick. "B list" guns are snapped up as necessary substitutes. Customers continue to be and are more likely to be those who weren't paying attention to the gun control news and are of all sorts. Diversity lives at the gun store.