Jill M. Rohrbach
Walking into the Daisy Airgun Museum earlier this year, I immediately began to smile when I saw the fishnet stocking-covered leg lamp that can only make a person think of one thing, the movie “A Christmas Story.” It’s a fabulous and funny classic about a kid who wants, more than anything, a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Why would that, along with a poster of the movie, be inside an airgun museum?
Daisy Manufacturing Company, Inc. is the world’s oldest and largest manufacturer of airguns, ammo and accessories. One gun, more than any other, played a major role in making Daisy the household name it is today. Introduced in 1939, the Daisy Red Ryder has sold more than 9 million units, easily making it the most famous BB gun ever built.
While I don’t recall that I owned a Red Ryder, I grew up on a farm and did have a Daisy BB gun when I was just a youngster. Like in “A Christmas Story,” it was given to me by my father. I sold it in 1987 during a garage sale I had with some girlfriends. We were all trying to make money for our senior year Spring Break trip to Florida. I remember a reluctance to sell it at the time. But by then, I was a city dweller and less of a tomboy. I figured I’d never use it again.
Looking back, I wish I had chosen to keep the gun, preserving in some way the memories associated with it – the connection to my farm-girl youth and my father, who died last year in September. The $15 asking price and the $10 I agreed to take for it at the sale wouldn’t have made a difference in my Spring Break. Now I have two sons that I could have passed it on to.
I can’t imagine the number of kids that have had many an adventure with a Daisy BB gun. Of course, the Daisy Airgun Museum preserves a lot more than just the Red Ryder. The museum has on display more than 150 antique airguns dating from the 1600s to the present. It’s quite impressive to see the array of styles Daisy has manufactured over time. You can also walk through the company’s timeline and view old packaging and advertising.
The museum attracts more than 1,700 visitors each year from almost every state in the continental U.S. and several foreign countries. It includes a gift shop, collectibles and information on the current line of Daisy products. The museum is a non-profit organization, mostly staffed by Daisy retirees.
Located in historic downtown Rogers at 202 W. Walnut, it is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, phone (479) 986-6873 or visit www.daisymuseum.com.