Tag Archives: Rubber band gun

This Story is Really About an Armenian Truck.

I figured some of you might be interested in how the Rio Rancho “Holiday Arts and Crafts Festival” went for us.  It was declared a success after counting the cash box at the end of the day.  There were times during the day when you couldn’t get into our booth for all the customers.  The big sellers:  wooden toy cars, trucks and trains; snowman chocolate bars; rubber-band guns; post people; snowman gum packs; scrabble ornaments; angel ornaments; and  lighted glass bottles and glass blocks.  After spending up to five hours painting a mail-box sitter, a candy-cane sledder, a lighted and musical christmas tree, a country nativity scene, and other assorted Christmas-type decorations, they were “oohed” and “ahed” over, but nobody put up the cash.  Well, it was the weekend before Thanksgiving, so maybe people weren’t into Christmas yet, or maybe they have enough decorations (I have over ten totes full of them) and didn’t need anymore.  I should have made more rubber-band guns.  I procured orders for 15 more at the show.

But this story is really about an Armenian truck.  A toy logging truck.

My daughter bought a bag of wooden parts at the local “Savers” for $5.  She had no idea what the parts made, they were all disassembled, but she saw the wooden two-inch wheels and knew I was looking for some for a project I was building.  When we stuck all the parts together we came up with a toy logging truck.  Amazingly, almost all the parts were in the bag.  There was glue smeared on some of the pieces, as the truck had broken over play time and repaired by a parent, I guess.  There was crayon scribbled on the  oak pieces as I imagine the owner wanted to add some color to the truck, like black crayon on the tires and yellow, green and orange on the cab.  Clearly, just looking at the truck, it was a well-loved toy, played with a lot, and held up well until all the parts were put in a zip-lock bag and donated.  Someone thought the  pieces could still make a toy, and thought better of just throwing it away.  On the bottom of the flat-bed trailer was stamped “Made in Armenia.”

Now, I’ve heard of Armenia.  I figured it was in Europe somewhere.  And it is.  It’s a landlocked country east of  Turkey and south of Georgia.  Once part of the Soviet Union, it gained Independence in 1991.  And its been around a long time too, all the way back to the fourth century.  The Republic of Armenia has 3.1 million inhabitants.  I don’t know how many “drams” or “lumas” this logging truck might have originally cost, but wooden toys are not a major export of Armenia, diamonds being number one.  Somehow the truck got here and into my hands.

I looked the truck over and thought I could fix it and sell it at the show.  It would need more than glue though.

The truck assembled from the bag of parts.

 The truck cab didn’t work for me so I dismantled all the parts and what I ended up with was two flat pieces of oak with wheels and axles.  I started by taking a router to the wheels, rounding them off to look more like tires.  Then I painted them black and added some metallic paint to the wheels.  Next I built a cab by laminating three pieces of 2 X 6 and pegging and gluing it to the base.  Then I added some fenders to the block, some headlights, running lights, a bumper and an exhaust stack.  I re-glued and replaced two of the stakes on the trailer, added running lights and stop lights to the trailer and painted it.  Now I needed some “logs”.  I’m blessed with several large trees in the back yard, and with a little pruning I had several real-looking logs to load up on the truck.  The result is the truck below.

The rebuilt logging truck.

I enjoyed building the truck so much, that I drew up plans to make more of them.  I sealed the non-toxic paint with a food-safe wood toy oil and loaded it up with the other toy trucks to take to  show.  A woman bought three of my toy trucks (ordering another one like that sold to the woman in front of her).  She said that she was buying them because they were made in America, were sturdy toys, and had an attention to detail that showed I cared about the them.  She was anxious to give them to her children for Christmas and knew they would be the kind of toy that would be passed down for generations.  That was all I wanted to hear, but I wasn’t there at the time.  I had gone outside to get some air.  Okay, I went outside to have a smoke.

Note the compass in the stock.

The best moment for me on Saturday, was when I walked up to the booth and saw a woman in the checkout line with a small boy beside her holding one of the rubber-band rifles with the “compass in the stock.”  He was about seven or eight.  The look on his face as he held that wooden rifle was nothing less than the look on Ralphie’s face when he finally got his “Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time” in the movie “A Christmas Story.”  It’s one of my favorite Christmas movies, and Jean Shepherd, as you might know, is one of my favorite authors.  He’s on my idol list.  The boy was so visibly excited as he held on to his new prized possession, all I could think is that he could hardly wait to shoot his eye out with the rubber-band gun.  His mother was one of the vendors at the show, and he must have pestered her all day to buy the gun.  He had been in the booth several times eyeing the weapon.  She must have finally relented and paid the $14.95.  “Always point the gun at the ground, while you’re loading it,” I instructed him before they walked away.  It uses a seven-inch rubber band for ammunition.

Now before you accuse me of being a gun enthusiast, I guess I might be to some extent.  After all, I grew up in Wyoming.  We had gun racks in our trucks…with real guns on them.  I was a little bit worried about taking the rubber-band guns to the show, but they’re fun, they’re harmless, and kids love them.  But I also know there are a lot of parents that don’t like the idea.   However, as I mentioned, they were a popular item and we sold out of all but the rifles in the first few hours.  I guess they make a great “stocking-stuffer.”  I felt a little like Lee Harvey Oswald carrying the rifles into the recreation center though.  They were wrapped in brown paper and looked just like the curtain rods Oswald told people on the bus he was carrying.  “Come on,” I said to myself, these are rubber-band guns.

I really hope that I didn’t destroy an heirloom by rebuilding the logging truck and making it my own.  It’s not “Made in Armenia” anymore, and I sanded off the label on the bottom of the trailer.  It’s “Made in America” now with a couple of pieces of Armenian oak, some Armenian oak wheels and a little added imagination.  With my luck it was a rare item and worth thousands.  I gave it away for $26.95.




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What Can You Make From A Pile Of Old Cedar Fence?

When we moved into the house on 33rd Circle in Rio Rancho, NM, the fence at the back of the half-acre lot had blown over in a storm.  It had suffered through many a wind storm this area is known for, but after forty or so years it took its last lick a few months before we moved in.  The landlord replaced the old fence with a stucco wall.  He hauled most of the fence to the land fill, but there were still two or more sections of the decaying fence piled in the back by the new wall.  He promised to have it hauled away and I told him to leave it.  I would cut it up and use it for kindling in the fire-place.  Nice dry Western cedar.

So I set up the table saw and started to tear apart the remaining fence.  I’d been working on it for several days when a thought came to me from something my brother, who used to own a framing gallery, once did with old barn wood.  He made some fantastic frames out of it, and put the history of where the barn wood originated on the back of the frame.  I have one hanging in my living room with one of the Wyoming Centennial (1890-1990) 16 X 24 prints of an old barn with the Tetons rising majestically  in the background.

That’s when the “Barn Bird Collection” was born.  I could make a flock of “barn birds” rising on spring wires from a base, perch one on a high wire between two telephone poles, put one on a barbed-wire fence, and on a rail fence.  My creative juices started to flow.

My daughter has sold crafts in a Christmas craft fair in Rio Rancho for several years, so I told her about my barn bird idea.  She thought it might work, so I decided to start getting some ready for the fair.  I added the “Barn Bird Birdhouse” to the collection as I went along.  Well, the “Barn Birds,” led to the “Post People” and the “Crayon Trains” and the “Mailbox Sitters,” and the “Candy Cane Sledders,” and the “Gumball Machine,” and the “Rubber Band Guns”, and the “Big Blue Airplane.”  So that’s the reason I haven’t written anything in my blog since September 23rd.  I have generated a lot of woodcrafts though.  Now I’m worried I won’t have time to finish them all. 

Barn Bird on a Fence

D-Day for the Rio Rancho “Holiday Arts and Crafts Festival & Santa’s Workshop” is November 20th.  D-Day, of course, is well-known as the day the allies crossed the Channel and invaded France in World War II.  Do you know why it was called D-Day?  Did it stand for “Deliverance-Day,” “Dooms-Day”, “Death-Day”?  Nope.  The “D” stands for “Day”  just like the “H” in “H-Hour” stands for “Hour.”  Until a few hours ago, I thought that D-Day for the crafts fair was November 22nd.  November 22nd is emblazoned in most of our memories as the day Lee Harvey Oswald fired three, or was it four, bullets from a 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano rifle.  He bought the rifle mail-order from an ad in “American Rifleman” and used it this time from a sixth-floor window of the Texas Book Depository.  The same as 9-11 is emblazoned in our minds for the day two American Airlines, Boeing 767s slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center from different directions.  Okay, the date I have to show up at the Sabana Grande Community Center is and will not be as memorable as either of those dates, but one thought led to another.  From what I can tell, nothing of much historical significance ever happened on November 20th.

A Flock of Barn Birds

So the “Barn Birds,” “Post People,” “Crayon-Trains,” “Mail-Box Sitters,” “Candy-Cane Sledders,” “Rubber-Band Guns,” “Big Blue Airplane,” and my wife got involved with her “Christmas Wreaths,”and “Aroma Kitchen Kozys” and whatever else we can come up with, will be available for purchase at the Sabana Grande Recreation Center on November 20th, from 9-4.

Here’s an example of the post people characters made from landscape timbers, 1 X 6 pine, a scroll saw, glue, paint and some branches.

The Christmas Post People.


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