A THOMPSON COLLECTOR'S QUEST
Well it all started in the year 1958, a 7 year old south side Chicago kid gets his first Thompson. It only shoots water and is made out of black plastic, but it does the job when he is watching old Wallace Beery and Jimmy Cagney movies with his dad. A number of years pass by, through many tommy gun cap and water squirters models, even one that shoots plastic bullets, then to finally graduate to a Mattel rapid fire cap model. Which he had seen at many Woolworth and Ben Franklin 5 & 10 stores, with his grandmother on the many buying sprees. Then a few more years pass by, girls, parties, cycles, you name it. Then the Tommy gun's are put away. Then comes the 1968 riots, conventions, free love, Vietnam Haight Ashbury, uncertain times, or at least they seemed to be and this wandering around Tommy gun Kid decides to join the Marines, and fight for his country, or maybe just maybe a small chance to get his hands on a real Thompson. Well we all know the issue was M-14 and M-16, something he will get to use many times, and know very well. However, not in the same manner that he used his black plastic model in 1958. But, remember, this is 1968, ten years have past, the times and the mind have changed. Well now the time is 1972, getting out of the corps, and what to do now. Never even had my chance to get my hands on that real Thompson. Just able to look at an old 1969 Curtis Earl catalog, which kept me going in the jungles. Which some good ole shipping sergeant, I presume at Kadena Airbase, decided to take it home to enjoy. Back to the world and civvies. What's this... Nixon, x-flower children, Watergate, and something called acid. Better find that Tommy gun. Then sometime later, contact with a man in Athens, Ga., who seems to share the same things in life, and what could that be? As far as guns are concerned, pure works of art in wood and blued steel, a Colt commercial Model of 1921. The thing that I have only read about. Now I'm on my way to Athens to see a hundred of them, all under one roof. It sure is in the veins now, stronger than ever, and the only way to contain it is to own one.
Well back to Chicago, now lets get licensed so that we can do what we want to do. That is to own one of the best know firearms, since Walker carried his Colt. The first one is brown from use and really shows it's age, an old police used 1921A. What possible gun battle could it have been in, or was it carried to guard some infamous Chicago gangster. Maybe is just laid around the police lockup for the past fifty or so years, but it is finally mine. An honest to goodness Colt Thompson. You would think I was in the presence of something Holy.
Well the years have come and gone. Through every model and type of drum, pouch, case, clip, ammo, parts kit, catalogs and manual. Was this some sort of quest? Or maybe, just some child hood obsession rearing up its ugly head, saying to me in a loud scream... "GET IT, HOARD IT, KEEP IT, WHO CARES HOW MANY." Then it hit me. Was it maturity, old age, or just a sense of my own mortality. Who knows who can explain something this crazy, after almost thirty years, what the heck am I going to do with all this stuff? Then the light bulb came on in the head, SELL IT!
What happened? Did a new Harley, boat, plane or some other collecting frenzy get to me. Has this happened to others? Was I unique to this situation. Then I was bitten by the biggest and worst of all Thompson bugs. The feared 99.9% condition gun. The ultimate sickness that can put away a Thompson collector for six months in an intensive care unit. The searching, the travel, post cards, letters, police depts, museums, flying, driving, walking, phone calls, and the just plain frustration of it. Then some dealer mentions the reblued gun. Heck fifty years from now you'll be too old to know the difference to know the difference anyway. Naw forget it, you can go bald, fat or skinny, get an ulcer, smoke, drink, and lose sleep over it all. Then a good friend of mine says to me, who wants one that is new in the box.
I want one that speaks of hard use, in the hands of John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Alvin Karpis, or Lester Gillis, or in the hands of police or FBI, who hunted them down. A Colt that has lines of the blue gone from it, scars and marks on the wood. Maybe, light rust and defaced serial numbers, remarked and stamped later by the police labs. After I had made the statement "Are you NUTS?" I was off on another quest. Looking for these so called Historical Thompsons which had to be authenticated with photos and paper work. Not just some Thompson that had a story behind it from the local storyteller at the Johnny Crakerbarrel Gun Shop in Jerkwater USA. Who would not know a Colt Thompson from an Ingram M6. This leads me back to my 59 cent black plastic squirter from 1958. That to all Tommy gun collectors near and far, when the Tommy gun bug bites, you go with it. Enjoy the sport, barter, trade, exchange of ideas, and if along the way you pick up some nice items, you'll have feed the bug. Someone may always have a better Colt, but who cares. You are doing in your life time what you enjoy. If that is to collect Thompsons and anything related to them. GREAT! If you find yourself falling by the wayside as other things come along, such as a new house, car, kids, marriage, college, etc. Just remember you'll go full circle again and come back to the club. It may be a small and special group, and when you think about it, we should be glad it is, for I am sure we would not have enough guns and C drums to go around. Well it is time to put the old trusty 21 back in the case and take the Dillinger tape out of the VCR and end this on a note of thanks to the great times of the past thirty years, to the below mentioned people, and to another thirty years of the quest. THANKS!
Roger Cox, J. Curtis Earl, Marty O'Toole, Fred Vollmer, Mike Rojak, R. J. Perry, Neal Smith, Mike Korba, Neal Trickel, Dale Thomas, Bob Harris, Joe Miller, Gerry Prasser, Jim Ballou, Rick Mattix, Pat Jung, Gordon Herigstad, Bill Edwards, Ivey Williamson, Terry Wiliams, Ron Simms, Gary Dembek, Joe Pinkston, Bob Bond, Robert Landies, Jim Falter, Pete Paskovitch, Tracie Hill, Larry King, Reed Knight, Bob Miller, Jeff Miller, Ross Capawana, Ron Rudin, Doug Richardson, Don Hall, Mathew Reed, Dennis Demark, Keith White, Tommy Spangler, Jeff Stack, Bob Nichols, Irv Kahn, Jim Alley, Joe Michels, Mike Stevens, John Sorenson, Erik and Ralph Weaver, Rick Cartledge, Ross Osphal, Craig Jordan, Hal Spiro, and lets not forget my good friend, who started it all, Bill "Mad Dog" Helmer.