Where were you on May 17th and 18th, 1997? If you were not at the International Exhibition Center in Cleveland, Ohio where the Ohio Gun Collector's Association was holding their 60th anniversary show, YOU MISSED IT!! It was seventy-two feet of Thompsons, accessories, and memorabilia.

As part of their 60th anniversary show, OGCA set aside tables for the display of collections. You would have to have seen this to appreciate it. The IX Center is a large building which was used for the production of bombers during World War II. Since then tanks were built in the building. When I say it was large, I mean like really BIG. The gun show itself must have been a thousand tables. The building swallowed the show space wise. The size of the gun show itself reminded me of the Georgia ARms Collector's Shows which were held in Atlanta in the 1970s. We don't often see this size show anymore.

You will recall Tracie Hill, Mike Free, Bennie Hill, and Jim Poff displayed Thomp sons at the National Rifle Association Show in Nashville, Tennessee in September, 1996. That effort resulted in an Outstanding Display Award in their category. Based upon that effort OGCA invited Tracie and Mike to display at the 60th Anniversary Show. Sutton Coffman and I were invited to also display our goodies. We were aided and supported in this endeavor by the Ladies Auxiliary (Donna Hill, Christine Paul, and Gail Warren).

The display area was at the front ofthe show and consisted of approximately 30 different displays. Some were one table and some were nine or ten tables. Our display was 9 eight-foot tables. Tracie, Sutton, and I arrived and began to set-up. We were soon joined by Mike and Christine. It took us approximately 3 hours to set-up and arrange this display on Friday, May 16th.


Many telephone calls between Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Georgia were made to decide who brought what. The display was arranged as a time line. From left to right you viewed the patent pistol of Commander Blish to the most recent production of Thompson Submachine Guns at West Hurley, New York. Everything was labeled so anyone would read and understand what they were viewing. IT WAS AWESOME! California Mike would have looked and again said, "Bitchin Dude."

As you moved from the Blish pistol you viewed the Model of 1919 prototypes and their magazines. Then the commercial Colt era (1921A, 1921AC, 1927, and a 1928 Navy) with their magazines, box and drum. A television with VCR continuously played Rimfire Productions "The Thompson Submachine Gun". Thompson: The American Legend was displayed along with copies of The Gun That Made The Twenties Roar and Dillinger by Bill Helmer. You then observed Bowling Green, Ohio's Thompson along with all it's pedigree. All of the documents related to this sale by Mr. E.E. Richardson was on display. Then you viewed two Auto Rifles, BSA prototypes, various examples of WWII Thompsons, WWII prototypes, and the last Thompsons, the West Hurleys. Woven into this display of 31 LIVE THOMPSONS AND ONE WOODEN DEALER'S SAMPLE were displays of canvas accessories, magazines, oilers, cleaning rods, photographs, documents, and marked ammunition boxes. We had more goodies with us but ran out of space on the tables. Like I said earlier, if you were not there, you missed IT!

We began at 5:00a.m. Saturday to prepare for the long day ahead of us. At that point I didn't realizej ust HOW LONG of a day that was going to be. We unwrapped our display and got ready for the crowd. What a day! People would turn the corner and look at display #3, Thompson: The American Legend, and their eyes would dance. We made so many new friends that weekend and even saw some old ones. I had personal reasons for doing this show. I had missed Nashville but more impor tantly I have #147, a 1921AC, who once served the people of Cleveland Ohio. Old #147 was home for the weekend.



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