One of the Funniest Stories of the Year 1944 –Marian 25-20 Rifle

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November 1944- Almonte Gazette

Advertising is the greatest sales force that ever has been discovered. Of course it must be admitted that advertising will not sell an article that isn’t in demand, is of poor quality or priced too high. But let those three requirements be met satisfactorily and advertising will produce the buyers in numbers that are sometimes embarrassing. Take for example an experience we had at The Almonte Gazette office recently.

A farmer living a few miles out of town brought in a Marian 25-20 rifle and advertised it for sale in the columns of the newspaper. Rifles are hard to get, the season was right, deer hunting days being at hand and foxily enough he threw in an offer of 7Q cartridges as an extra incentive. Because he lived in the country and it would be difficult for prospective purchasers to see the rifle at his home, the owner of the weapon asked us if we would keep it in the office and show it to such interested parties as they turned up.

In a moment of weakness we agreed to this arrangement and then hell broke loose on wheels. No sooner was the paper published than the parade started on foot, over the telephone, and through the mails. We were called out of bed late at night by the shrill summons of the telephone bell to answer a voice demanding to know how much we wanted for “that there” rifle. Phone calls came from Calabogie, Carp, Balderson, Lanark and many intermediate points. We even received a telegram from Sharbot Lake and several air mail letters from eager sportsmen who felt that the rifle might spread its wings and sail away before they could get their offers on the record.

But, it was the boys who walked into the office asking to see the gun who really got us down. Knowing nothing about a rifle we had to produce this weapon for inspection and tell each prospect to look it over and judge for himself as it wasn’t our property and we were incapable of hazarding an opinion on its condition. It was a revelation to watch and listen to these great hunters as they put the gun through its paces. We thanked a kind person over and over again that the owner had left no shells around or the demonstrations would have taken on a truly terrifying complexion. It was bad enough anyway.

Believe it or not during the week the gun was in the office it was nothing for the editor or his assistants to look up from their work and find themselves gazing into the muzzle of the 25-20. Now even if you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that a gun is not loaded you still get a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach when you find yourself confronted with the business end of a wicked looking black barrel.

What a procession of experts passed through the office during those hectic days and examined the fierce looking weapon! There they were peering down the muzzle to see if the rings were all right; holding the hind end of it up to the light or putting a piece of paper into the magazine to increase their powers of detection. We don’t know yet what the idea of holding the paper to one end of the breach was but we know we tore up several reams of newsprint in our efforts to accommodate our visitors.

“Ah, it doesn’t look too bad,’ one chap would say, gazing down the barrel as if he had a telescope and was searching for a new heavenly body. The rings don’t look very clean they may be leaded,” another prospective customer would opine hoping we would soften the price if he cried down the condition of the firearm. “I have one like it, only it is a Winchester,” said another pal of ours. “With my gun I have often shot two deer with one bullet. Do you suppose I could shoot two deer with this gun if they were standing end to end.”

My accounts of prowess in the woods evoked by the inspection of that gun were truly edifying. We asked on several occasions if it would be all right for us to publish stories describing their deeds in the great hinterland. Without exception they thought, and hastily exacted a promise that we would not mention either their names or their claims. This seemed passing strange to us because it is certainly no disgrace to be able to kill a deer a mile away or knock two over with one shot. We concluded that the huntsmen were very modest -a trait that somehow or other we never before associated with hunters or anglers.

There seemed to be a unanimous —old and young—who inquired about the gun that its owner wanted too much for it. So finally the man called and took his rifle home. We could have sold it a dozen times if we had had the authority to cut the price a little. Since then we have been directing traffic out to the farm occupied by the owner of the rifle. For all we know he may have sold it to some chap who is killing deer a mile away or knocking them over two or three at a time.

Any man who says advertising doesn’t pay is all wrong. This incident proves it although we will admit that an advertisement for a man to do a little hard work at moderate wages or for a furnished house to rent is not apt to produce the stampede that would be created by a printed intimation that you had a rifle and shells for sale just prior to deer hunting season or that you were prepared to give away a bottle of gin or a case of beer on Rooney’s corner at high noon.

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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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