"Ralphie got it wrong," Joe Murfin says. "The gun for which Ralphie so ardently lobbies never existed."
In the movie "A Christmas Story" -- and the play, which opens next weekend at Arkansas Public Theatre -- 10-year-old Ralphie Parker will do anything to get a "official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass and this thing which tells time built right into the stock."
Daisy Airgun Museum
WHEN — 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday
WHERE — 202 W. Walnut St. in downtown Rogers
COST — $2 for ages 16 and older; to make a purchase enter through the gift shop door on Second Street
INFO — 986-6873, daisymuseum.com
"While the story is not autobiographical, [author Jean Shepherd] did base his stories on personal recollections of growing up in the Midwest," says Murfin, chairman of the board of the Daisy Airgun Museum and an author himself of a book about Daisy Manufacturing. "The only problem was the Daisy Red Ryder never had a compass or sundial in the stock. The gun which had those distinctive features was the Buck Jones, which was a pump gun, not a lever action gun like the Red Ryder."
"Failing to convince the production company that the script should be changed, Daisy agreed to inset a compass in the stock, silkscreen a sundial on the stock and add a copper forearm band and a copper front sight band to three guns to be used as props in the movie," Murfin writes in his history. "Orin Ribar, customer service manager, had some of the old Model 1938 Red Ryders (made from 1972 to 1978) which looked very similar to the old No. 111, Model 40 Red Ryders. He had the stock from an old Buck Jones gun photographed in order to create a silkscreen pattern. Daisy staff routed the stock, inserted the compass and silk-screened the sundial onto the Red Ryder.
"Once this prototype was created, John Ford coordinated the production of the three movie prop guns. In fact, he recalls that his wife Sara painted the forearm bands and front sight bands for these three guns to make them look more like the old models. One of the movie's three prop guns remains in the Daisy Museum. Based on the immediate popularity of the movie, Daisy committed to produce the Red Ryder with a compass and sundial in the stock for the balance of 1983 and all of 1984.
"In 2003 and 2008, on the occasions of the 20th and 25th anniversaries of this gun, the Daisy Museum produced a limited number of Daisy Red Ryders, just like the ones Daisy made in 1983 and 1984, specially engraved with the anniversary years," Murfin's history recounts. "These guns were marketed exclusively to collectors."
This year, the "35th Anniversary A Christmas Dream, 1983-2018" has been released in time to go under Christmas trees and is available at the Daisy Museum in Rogers. Murfin says not only is Daisy Manufacturing sponsoring the APT production, a playbill is worth $5 off the new Red Ryder.
-- Becca Martin-Brown
NAN What's Up on 12/03/2017