15. April 2007 · Comments Off on In the Interests of Pure Research · Categories: General, History, My Head Hurts, Rant, Working In A Salt Mine..., World

In the interests of pure research, over the last couple of days, Blondie and I have ventured into deepest, darkest downtown San Antonio… and also to a point well beyond the city limits. I can report that I have returned with a dozen pages of notes indecipherable to anyone but me, and Blondie came close to having her leg humped by a wolf. OK, so a wolf-dog hybrid. About fifteen percent dog, eighty-five percent wolf, said the owners and proprietors, who also said that he was very friendly. Yep, we figured out that much right away. He was chained outside a vendor of frontier clothing and accessories at a re-enactor’s event, on the grounds of a ranch in the Hill Country. Some people we talked to at the event said that something set him off howling, night before last, which was a sound enough to make your skin crawl. We figured that any coyotes in the vicinity must have been a) scared out of their next years’ growth and b) decided after careful consideration, that discretion was the better part of valor and removing to the next county was therefore an excellent career move. For the duration of the event, of course.

This all came about because I emailed The Fat Guy a couple of weeks ago, asking if he (as an enthusiast and Texas history buff) could put me in touch with any collector in San Antonio who owned an 1830s model Colt Paterson revolver… and who would be kind enough to show me how it was loaded, sighted and broken down for maintenance. So he gave me a link, which led to an e-mail addy, which led to a club-wide appeal from a certain organization, which led to some contacts… which led to the owner of a matched pair of replica Colt Paterson revolvers, the only person in San Antonio who possesses such, apparently. We set up a meeting at his place of employment on Friday afternoon, and Blondie drove me there after her classes. We spent a very informative hour or so, in a locked and windowless conference room. This is not exactly the sort of event where one welcomes the casual kibitzers. Even in Texas, someone walking in and discovering three period revolvers and the necessary tools are spread out over the conference table is obligated to make a comment to the building management. The fact that there was no ammunition involved would not have ameliorated the resulting excitement.

So, I was actually able to examine very carefully, all the resulting broken-down bits and pieces of a period revolver. It was necessary for the plot and character development to do this, so that I could write about it with authority and attention to tiny detail, and I am extraordinarily grateful for having had the opportunity to do this… all hail the power of the fully functional internet! It was rather a curious experience, because I had been able to write about it and get things mostly right, just from looking at diagrams and reading… but still, nothing beats the experience of actually holding the real thing.

Oddly enough, it was a rather small weapon, dull matte metal with a polished wooden stock. It fit my hand comfortably, and I have rather dainty hands. Blondie’s fingers are about half an inch longer than all of mine, when we match hands for comparison; when I did M-16 training, and side-arm training, I found that my hands were too small to grip and still reach things comfortably on the issue M-16 and the Beretta. And the Beretta was hard for me to hold steady after a while, even with two hands. So, the revolver that made things equal in a fight between Jack Hays Rangers and the Comanche was actually… rather small, especially in comparison with the next iteration, the Walker Colt. The collector who generously took time from his workday to show us all this told me he has a pair of those, as well. The Walker Colt is a massive weapon, weighing about four and a half pounds. After expending all six shots, anyone armed with one would have still had a dandy club/brass knuckles. No wonder they were immediately popular. But after wearing a pair of them on a gun-belt for a whole day of re-enactor events, he really, really felt every ounce of them, in a considerably painful way.

And after the re-enactor event, we went on up to Fredericksburg, where I bored the heck out of Blondie at the Pioneer Museum, talking about the early Fredericksburg settlers. I wanted to take a look at the various household implements on display. And the wooden trunks they brought them in. And the corner town-lot that I willfully assigned to the fictitious family that I am writing about, at the corner of San Antonio and Adams. There is a one-story, stucco professional building on that particular plat… but strangely enough, I described my fictitious family as leaving two trees on their townlot, shading the back of their house… and there are two trees, shading the back of that building.

Really, sometimes I do scare myself. It’s scarier than Blondie wanting a wolf-dog hybrid… well, one that doesn’t try to hump her leg.

Donations being accepted, via the Paypal button, to the left, underneath the ad for the memoir. They will be used to set up a website to market the books, and if I don’t get an agent and a traditional publisher, I plan on doing a POD book of “Truckee Trail” and the “Adelsverein Trilogy”. I just listened to a story this morning on NPR about how best-sellers are decided upon by the publishing industry, so I am feeling particularly sour about the whole literary-industrial complex.

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