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A Devil in Baggy Pants

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Times Do Change, Don’t They?

By Gene Haynes

I’m not much of a writer, but I wanted to say something about guns and how much times have changed. I’m 70 as of this March and I’m here to tell you the world is certainly a different place from the one I grew up in.

My first real rifle was a Stevens Crackshot that my Dad had traded for a pig. By the time I was 10, I was hunting squirrels as much as I could afford. Times were tough on the farm and the 35 cents a box of .22 Shorts cost was pretty pricey. At 50 cents a box, .22 Long Rifles were for special occasions and had to be used sparingly. That little single-shot taught me to make every shot count. It’s still in the family. You should keep guns if you can. Sometimes you have to sell them to live, but, Brother, if you can keep them you should. If you’re like me, you’ll always regret selling one.

win7772There was a country store where I grew up. In 1957, when I was 13, it had a Winchester Model 77 .22 that I visited almost every day after school. I would pick it up and imagine what I could do if I had it. One day it wasn’t there anymore and I was heartbroken. When I got home, I found it waiting for me. My Mom had bought it for my birthday present. I loved that rifle and only parted with it a couple of years ago when my first grandson was old enough to need a good rifle. I told him the story of my Mom and how I got it. I hope he will tell that story to his son one day when he passes it on.

When I was old enough to go deer hunting I borrowed a .38-40 from my Dad. On opening day, I was walking south of Hodgen, Oklahoma where we lived. The school bus came by and picked me up and dropped me off about four miles south of town. Imagine that now, a boy getting on a school bus with his rifle to go deer hunting. Times do change, don’t they?

When I was 17 I joined the Army. I had read a book by a man named Ross Carter and that inspired me to become a paratrooper. I was part of the 82nd Airborne Division, 2/ABG 504. We were the “Devils in Baggy Pants.” I survived all those years in some places I would like to forget with some of the best men in the world. God bless them all.

images (2)imagesI’m older now, and a gun nut in case you didn’t guess. I load for about 35 rifles. My favorite is one that I got from my cousin. He willed it to me when he died. It is a Marlin 25-36 lever action. I had never even heard of that caliber before I saw his rifle the first time. I have a pretty large gun collection, but I am most proud of that Marlin in that odd caliber.

I have lived my life with guns and they are a part of who I am. My guns will carry on my memory when I pass. They will be Grandpa Gene’s guns and when my family uses them, they will remember how much I loved them all.

Gene Haynes