Interviewer: Michael Nobel Kline
Place of Interview: Concord Free Public Library
Transcriptionist: Carrie Kline
Michael Kline: Today is September 29th.And we're at the Concord Free Public Library, down in the Special Collections Room, with James Powers and Henry Dane, representing the Concord Rod and Gun Club. Is it the Concord Rod and Gun Club?
Henry Dane: It is the Concord Rod and Gun Club, Inc.
MK: Okay. So let's start--.
James Powers: I'm not sure that we are representing the Club, because they have no idea that we're here.
MK: Oh, they don't have any idea that you're here. Representing themselves as members of the Rod & Gun Club. Why don't we start with you, Jim, since you have on that beautiful tie? Can you say, "My name is"?
JP: My name is Jim Powers, from Stowe, Mass, past--.
MK: And your--.
JP: Past member of the Concord Rod & Gun Club for many years. And--.
MK: Your date of birth?
MK: 9-21-41. Could you still me just a little bit about your people and where you were raised?
JP: I was born in Concord, lived initially on 17 Grand St, moved to Nashawtuc Hill in the '50s, resided there until I was married and then moved to Stowe after that.
MK: Was your dad a hunter? How does hunting figure in this?
JP: Back in my father's day and time, the young men, I suppose, were all, by nature, hunters. The Gun Club sprang up from a group of hunters and fishermen. It was established, probably I would guess, in somebody's kitchen or dining room, graduated to a building on Main St., probably Number 1 Main St., now I think known as the Eads Building, where they--. At that time there was a third floor, which had a major hall, and meeting rooms and so forth. And the Club held its meetings and gatherings there.
MK: Starting in?
JP: Ooo. I would guess the late '40s, early '50s. Prior to the purchase of the land up on Strawberry Hill Rd., that's where they used to meet. And I recall as a young man, kid actually, going to the meetings. Whether I had a choice in it or not I don't really recall, but I do recall going to some of the meetings, and also going on an occasional crow hunt no less, back in the, probably the mid-'50s, early '50s. On Saturday mornings, I'd go out to Virginia Road area, up to the old road to Nine Acre Corner area and have a crow hunt. Take a stuffed owl and put it up on a post somewhere, with permission from the farmers. I suspect the crows were a nuisance to the planting of crops and so forth, and used to go on crow hunts. And then I was involved in the Club myself over the years until I moved out of town, had a family of my own, became a occasional hunter, as opposed to a avid hunter, and just simply got away from it.
But the Club, back in the early days, back when they were at, on Main St., and after that, used to sponsor disabled vets fishing days on a Saturday or Sunday. I recall going out Monument St., I think it was, to a piece of property that one of the members had access to, either through ownership, or a friendship with somebody who owned it. And they would arrange for school buses to go to the VA Hospital in Bedford I believe, and other places, and pick up disabled vets and bring them out in wheelchairs, crutches. And the membership and their kids would be there to assist these fellows to fish, baiting the hooks, taking the fish off or whatever was necessary, depending on the ability of the veterans.
MK: Was there a particularly accessible riverbank there? It was a small creek or a large brook up on Wyman St., as I remember. And it was fairly accessible. And it was stocked by the Club the three or four days beforehand from the fisheries, hatchery place would stock it quietly, so that nobody would know about it and there would be something left for the veterans to catch. They also, eventually, when they got the clubhouse and pond, did the same thing up there. And, lots of good memories, lots of good memories.
MK: Let's give Henry a turn here, and we'll come back to you then.
JP: All right.
MK: Can you say, "My name is?"
HD: My name is Henry Dane.
MK: And your date or birth?
HD: My date of birth is 1936.
MK: Maybe you'd tell us a little bit about your people and where you were raised.
HD: My people. Well, let's see. I was born in New York City. And my father was in the radio and advertising business. I went to public schools in New York City, and then I went through various--. I wandered through graduate schools of various kinds and ended up being a graduate of Harvard Law School in 1970. I moved to Concord in I think 1966 after spending time in various schools and living in London for a couple of years and teaching at the University of Pennsylvania and Union College. So, and when I came to Concord I had three children. And they are now in their--. Well, I had three children. They are now in their forties. And then I had one more child, who is now in his early twenties. My--. And I've had a--. I practiced law in Boston in the early '70s at a firm that was then called Hale and Dorr. And then I came out to Concord and established my own practice and I practiced law in Concord since January of 1973. And I'm still doing that at the age of almost 75.
MK: Is there--? Are there traditions of hunting or fishing that go back in your family?
HD: None whatever. What happened was that my parents sent me away to summer camp at an early age, starting at the age of five. And I spent every summer, the whole summer, at various summer camps, from the age of five until about the age of fifteen or sixteen. And then after that I worked at some summer camps during the summers and took a great liking to the outdoors. I remember one of these camps that I went to in Connecticut, which was staffed largely by guys who had just come back from the Second World War. Encouraged boys, and it was an all boys camp, to go to the Commissary, to take out a couple of shelter halves, and get some eggs and bacon from the kitchen, and then go out in the woods and camp on their own. And I would do this frequently. And I remembered all of these experiences that, how you learn the hard way about how you cook your breakfast inside a tent when it's raining! Which is something you do when you were twelve years old, but probably you'd have enough sense not to do if you'd done it once or twice before. But, I--. And I used to go do a lot of hiking, mountain climbing. I was actually the president of the Haverford Mountaineers, a rock climbing group at my college when I was in--. That was in the late '50s. And I actually--. And when I have returned to the college for reunions, I see that the piton that I drove into the dormitory wall, to repel down the side of the dormitory is still there!
And I also, when I was I my early twenties, during college, college vacations, would lead groups of high school-age students on week-long trips in the White Mountains, where you carry everything that you, carry everything on your back and. So I'd had a lot of experience in the outdoors, although the only hunting that I had done was I got pretty good at catching snakes with my bare hands and get, catching frogs when I was young. In fact, I continue that with my children when I started, when I came to Concord, because there's a pond here. It's called Fairyland. Where we would go, with my kids. And in those days there still were snakes there. I don't know if there are now. But we would go out there. We would catch snakes and frogs and so on and bring them home and put them in the aquarium in our dining room!
So that's kind of my background in this area. And my first experience with the Rod & Gun Club was going up there to one of the July 4th outings, I guess, as we call them, with my kids when they were very young. Where they had these wonderful--. It was like a fair, where they--. And they cook lobsters and had all kinds of food and activities for the kids. And it was a big event in the town, probably until about twenty years ago, when many things changed, including the town started its own July 4th party in the Emerson playground. And I think the population, the demographics, we call them now, changed, so that a lot of people had summer homes and went away to Chatham and Nantucket and wherever they, Lake Winnipesaukee, and just weren't around in the summer. So, that was--. And I--. That's I think when I met Jim's father. Jim didn't--. I don't know if Jim mentioned the fact that his father, Jim Powers, Sr.? Is that what--?
JP: Close enough.
HD: Close enough? Was a real hero in this town. Very highly regarded as a real estate broker, and as a philanthropist, and a guy who had good, old-fashioned, democratic values of the Tip O'Neil type of lunch pail Democrat for the old days.
MK: Lunch pail Democrat?
HD: Yeah. That's what we call them, yes. It's essentially in today's political spectrum you call it the Democrats who are fiscally conservative and socially conservative, I guess that would be a, probably a shorthand way of describing it. But the old-fashioned Democrats. And I remember I was the attorney for the Concord Housing Authority, and we were, back in the days where we did a lot of construction for low and moderate and handicap housing. And there was a big dispute about a particular, I think it was the handicap project on Thoreau St. And Jim Powers came out and stood up and spoke in favor or this. And it certainly helped. It stimulated my admiration for him that he had the courage to do that. He was a president of the Rod & Gun Club for how many years?
JP: Off and on probably fifteen years. I think he was president five or six times.
HD: And I had dealings with him then, although I was not a member at the time that he was president. I do remember that when I ran for the State Legislature in 1984 I was up at the Rod & Gun Club and had my picture taken with him. And it didn't help me that much! But it was probably me and not him.
MK: Did you have your lunch bucket with you?
HDL I don't, but--. I don't believe I did. It wasn't lunch time! But then, one of my maxims is, "It's never too early for lunch!" So I didn't get to join the club until I guess probably until my youngest son was about six or seven years old. So that would've been I the mid '70s. And I was encouraged to join by a man named Art Stetson who is still around as a member of the Club. He's one of our senior members. He was a--. His wife was a secretary to the Board of Appeals. And when she retired from the Town, working for the Town--. Her name was Marge Stetson. And she's still around too. I saw her yesterday. She came to work for us at our office. And so I would see Art. And they would always be encouraging me to come down and join the Club, which eventually I did. And I took my son down there, and I--. We--. Because I wanted him to learn how to shoot and to have, to do the things that we do at the Club. So, I've been a member since then, which would be, what, about twenty years? Would that be right?
HD: Early, mid '70s. So that's about.
MK: Twenty-five maybe.
HD: No, I'm sorry, not mid-'70s. My son was born in 1986, so it would be the mid-'90s. The '90s. So that'd be about fifteen years, which seems more, seems right. And then Art talked me into--. Art Stetson talked me into becoming the Treasurer of the Club, which I did for a while. And then I've been involved in the management, or the administration of the Club since then, almost continuously as a member of the, what we call the Board of Governors, or as an officer. And then I've been the president for the last three or four years.
MK: Hmm. Let me get back with Jim for a minute here. I wanted to hear more about the July 4th celebration.
JP: Umm hmm.
MK: Where it was held, what some of the events were, and who would come to a think like this.
JP: I guess we probably should preface that with the reason for the July 4th. The--. As I mentioned, the Club initially was down on a meeting hall on Main St. And there was some movement among the members to try and find their own place, which was unsuccessful. And I would imagine, if memory serves me, that at some point in time a parcel of land came available up on--. There was talk of going up to Vermont at one point in time, and buying land in Vermont, so that the members would have a place to go to hunt and fish, bow and archery and the rest of it, without getting in the hair of local folks, as is the case today I'm sure. Anybody discharges a weapon in town, the phone rings at the Police Station, and so forth.
And this parcel of land on Strawberry Hill Rd. come up for sale. And the Club had been running raffles and other things, trying to raise money to get something started to build a treasury so they could afford to buy or build or do something when this lot of land came up. And my dad--. The price of course at the time, relatively speaking, was expensive. And my dad tried to convince key players in the Club at the time that they should buy it and so forth. And it was back and forth. And finally there was a resolution to make an offer on it. But then the, "How we going to pay for it if we buy it" question came up. And that's when initially they started running sportsman shows at the State Armory over in Concord. And for a number of years, back in the late '40s, early '50s, they ran a sportsman show, rented out booths, put in a canvas fishing tank. Probably thirty or forty feet long, and twenty feet wide on the beautiful, hardwood basketball floor, which everybody loved. And it was quite successful. And then that gave them the resources to buy the land and then begin to build the building.
MK: Tell us about the land itself, how many how large a parcel, and--.
JP: As I recall it was forty acres. And it includes a piece of property that ran from the Club down to Barrett's Mill Rd., actually including I think the old site of the Barrett's Mill. The waterway went down through there. There were a couple of small dams that probably sluiced water into the mill. And--.
MK: What water was it?
JP: It's the waterway, the drainage from the Club pond as it exists today. So if you go downstream from the Club driveway, which is essentially on the dam, down below that dam, all the way down to Barrett's Mill Rd., there was a strip of land all around that brook that came, either came with the property or was picked up within a year or two of the purchase of the main parcel.
MK: And the name of the brook?
JP: Umm, I don't know. I want to say Hopsbok. I'm not sure.
HD: I'm not sure. I think it may be Second Division Brook.
JP: It wasn't--. It was nothing more than a--.
HD: And the pond was Angier's Pond.
JP: Angier's Pond.
MK: I'm not trying to put you on the spot. I'm just trying to locate it.
JP: No, I don't recall. But anyway, I remember distinctly after they had bought the place, they carved out a lot on Barrett's Mill Rd. And at the time I worked for dad in real estate, and I happened to sell a lot to the fellow who built the house there. So the, they wanted to maintain control of the water downstream so that they neighbors couldn't interfere with the pond. But it was forty acres, the main parcel. And they sited, or they found the site for the Clubhouse where it presently exists up on the, a little bit of a bluff overlooking the--. Actually it was not, it wasn't a pond at the time. It was more of a swamp. And so the sportsmen shows were the driving force to raise the initial down payment, if you will. And then they contracted with a pre-cut log outfit up in Maine I think, drew a set of plans up for a building, had members who were in the construction business donate their time and poured a foundation. The folks from Maine come down and measured it to make sure. And they produced this kit which was delivered on flatbed trailers. And the members showed up for months at a time on weekends and tried to put the puzzle together. And, which they eventually did.
And then over the years they've added onto it once or twice. And they've made it a nice place. But at that early juncture, they were finding the cost of having the pond dredged was quite expensive. I guess there was a pond committee or something going on. And they reported to a meeting that the cost of doing this was so many thousands of dollars, which didn't go over too well. And my dad offered to see what he could do. And he found a contractor that was willing to buy the loam, once it was dredged out and dried out.
MK: To buy the what?
JP: To buy the dredgings, if you will, from the pond. So they contracted with this fellow. And instead of us having to pay him, he paid us. Anmd he dredged out the pond and created two or three islands which exist out there today, small islands. They took all the sludge fro the bottom of the pond, and they piled it in what is, what was at one point or is now a parking lot down close to the dam, to the right as you'd come in the, over the bridge by the dam. And they had twenty, thirty foot piles of loam there for a year or two, which, every so often this guy would come in and turn over and mix and so forth, until it became a saleable loam. And off he hauled it. And so instead of having to pay to make the pond, we got paid for the pond. So that gave us a very nice setting with a pond. And we put in a little cement pier, dock, that they use to fish off and tie a couple of rowboats to, and so forth. It also gave us better fishing, and at some of those July 4th outings, one year I was in charge of it, and I very stupidly, I guess, convinced everybody we should have log rolling and canoe titling, just like they did in the Boston show. And that was unanimously agreed upon. But of course I was the only one that was willing, or one of the, one or two, who were willing to do it. And I think it was either the first or the second year in canoe tilting, I got jousted straight back into the canoe. I think that was the last time that we had canoe tilting as I recall. That was--. Once was enough on that.
MK: You got bruised up pretty bad?
JP: I got set back on my keister and the back of my head hit the metal crossbar in the canoe, and I said, "Umm hmm." I said," That's why we don't do much more about canoe tilting I don't think!" I figured out who was the log rolling. But that was--. I figured the canoe tilting would be a drier occupation. It was, but the landing was a little bit harder. But that's how those outings, which were twice a year actually. They were July 4th and Labor Day. And they were designed to pay the mortgage, because we did raise enough money at the sportsman shows to down payment and get started. But they had to pay a mortgage. So the July 4th outings were designed to be the big producers twice a year to raise money to pay the bills and so forth.
MK: Now the sportsman shows, tell me a little bit--. Were these people who sold hunting products, or--?
JP: It would be--. They would typically have a water tank. You'd have all the guns and fishing rod companies, the gun companies. Anything to do with sporting would rent booths, and people would come in. There would be movies being shown, hunting and fishing movies and like shown in the side rooms up front in the armory. And local business owners would have booths to promote their business. My dad--. I have--. In fact, Marty, my brother,, in his office, there's a picture of either he or I or both of us sitting on a counter that my dad made. He was a woodworker in his spare time. He made a counter that sat in the front of the booth. And he would display real estate magazines and prop up pictures of houses for sale and so forth. The hardware store would probably have a booth and have the latest in rakes and hoes, or shovels, or whatever. It was a big draw. And it lasted for five or six years I guess, until they had enough money to proceed with the Club. It was labor intensive, as was the outings on July 4th and Labor Day. But it was necessary. But when it was no longer necessary, the--. Like any Club, the membership of 300 or so--. There's usually only about twenty percent that do all the work, so they were getting worn out from all these things. And they had the Club on a reasonably stable financial basis, so the sportsman show--. And again, as Henry said, the demographics changed. People no longer gravitated to hunting and fishing, because of the development. There wasn't the land. I mean places where I used to go hunting and fishing and flying kites now have houses, and buildings, and neighbors, and so forth. But--. Which is why we stopped, most of us stopped hunting around this neck of the woods. And probably drove us to the sea duck hunting we used to do, which was another hobby that came from the Club.
A lot of Club guys used to go coot shooting down the ocean. No neighbors, no roads, no telephone wires, no complaints. And a lot of fun. But that's how the sportsman shows ands the outings figured into it. Early on it was the lobster and clam and the fact that people were more stay at home at that time. And it was a big community thing. For a number of years I remember we gave away a pony up at the Club. And we used to parade it around town. We, otherwise known as me, was put in charge of parading the pony around town with a placard, "Now win this pony on July 4th," or "Labor Day," or whatever, up at the Club. We used to keep horses. At one time we had a couple horses, or a pony and a horse at most times. And I was charged with pony rides for the July 4th and labor Day thing. So I used to bring the horse and pony up and give pony rides. They had a little midway in which they had different little booths, if you will, that you could knock over bowling pins, or pop balloons or whatever, all kinds of little gamey things that folks could do, along with the trap range. They used to do a little trap shooting and so forth. And eventually the archery members became a big part of the Club, and they had an archery shoot at the end of that thing. And you know, a quarter here, half a dollar there, eventually all added up. That's how they made their money.
MK: What a story. Tell me in more detail about this demographic change that, the shift that began to occur, you think.
HD: This is not scientific. But it's interesting that the number of members at the Club has stayed very stable and in fact has grown since the time that Jim is talking about. And we find that most of the social and fraternal organizations in recent years have had a lot of trouble keeping members for all kinds of reasons, reasons having to do with air conditioning, forms of amusement that are available at home. I mean you can stay home and watch amazing stuff on television. You can rent movies. You can--. Any movie you want to see people have. And I think also the whole social and legal atmosphere has tended to keep people at home, such as the very strict enforcement, at least in Massachusetts, of drunk driving laws tends to keep people at home and not go out and socialize. The gun laws of course have been an issue as Jim mentioned. I mean not only are there houses that have been built, but the hunting seasons have been shortened. Like in Massachusetts, deer hunting is I think like one week in December. And it's with shotguns only. You can't discharge a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling or within 200 feet of a road. And so that leaves very little real estate available for hunting with firearms. And of course the deep know exactly where those zones begin and end. And they also seem to know exactly when the deer season begins and ends as well. Which I think, by the way, is one of the reasons for the growth of archery and bow hunting, because that is subject to so much less restriction in terms of where, and the seasons are much longer. And because the licensing and--. Licensing requirement with firearms has become so much for stricter, and there are none for bows, even though they have become extremely efficient and lethal. The Club started out as being what you call a working man's club. I think that's how people have referred to it, or a blue collar club. And, which is why there were people available to do all the construction work, because there were a lot of people in the trades. We had plumbers and electricians, contractors, you name it, welders, masons, all that, who were members of the Club. The dues were very modest. And even to this day, almost all the work at the Club is done by members. We have no employees. And very little of the work, except things like--. Very little of the work is done by paid professionals. So, it's interesting, because Jim's brother became a member of another club in town. And there's--. Because there's another sporting club in town called the Musketaquid Sportsman Club. And that was considered to be the upper class club, the high-class club, which had higher dues, a limited membership, and to be--. And Jim can probably tell you more about the distinctions. But--.
HD: Musketaquid? M-U-S-K-E-T-A-Q-U-I-D, I think.
JP: That's right.
MK: So these two clubs sort of ran parallel to each other?
HD: yes, I guess that's right. And we have a very cordial relationship. And as you might guess, with a, the son of a former president of our club having been president of Musketaquid and is still an active member there, and we cooperate in all kinds of things, including sharing information about insurance, real estate taxes, and things of that kind. So, but the demographics have changed, and there are not as many people in this area who are, come from that background or from those occupations. And so over the last maybe ten years or so, we've been getting a lot of people who work in Boston who are stockbrokers, and physicians, and computer people and who are now, interestingly enough, are--. There seems to be kind of a revival of interest in the outdoors and in the—revival of interest in the outdoors and the shooting sports, part of which I think is stimulated by the general negative social attitude toward this, as it's--. I wouldn't call it, not a rebellion, but I see it as a reflection of a desire to--.
JP: I think it's part of a natural desire to return to the outdoors.
HD: Yeah, to the return to the outdoors.
JP: . . .
HD: And to kind of maybe participate in something that people see as kind of a disappearing kind of—
HD: Yeah, something that people don't want to see die. And the direction of society seems to be a kind of--. The grain of society seems to be running the other way, at least around here, in Massachusetts. So I think it's something that peaks people's interest. I think this--. We've seen a big increase in interest in trap shooting. And the Club now has about I think three competitive trap teams. We have two--.
MK: Would you go into more detail about that, for the lay reader?
HD: Lay reader, yes. What is trap?
MK: Yeah. What is trap shooting?
HD: Trap is a shotgun sport where you shoot at flying targets, which are, they call them birds or clays, which are--. They're no longer clay, because they're now biodegradable. But they're some--. They're discs about four inches in diameter--
JP: . . . five inches, yeah.
HD: --painted a bright orange. And they get launched out of a machine, which throws them at random, not at random times, but at random heights and directions. And you get five shooters lined up in a row, left to right. And each one in turn calls for a bird. The bird is launched, now in this modern world by a voice-activated microphone. And it gets thrown out in front of you. And you shoot at it. And then you shoot in turn. The five people go around, and you--. And for one round you go around five times, so that at the end you've shot twenty-five shells. And the scores will range from anywhere from, well, depending how good the people are, from twelve to twenty-four or twenty-five. And it's a very challenging sport. I mean it's the kind of thing, the first time you try you think it's amazing you could hit any of them at all, because it's a small moving target at a considerable distance that you're trying to hit with a shotgun. And it kind of reminds you of the County Fair kind of things when you went to as a kid. And now you can do--. This is something you can do as an adult, and it's--. It is very--. It's very challenging. It's kind--. I would put it along, in terms of the mental concentration and coordination, it's kind of along the lines of golf, in terms of being frustration and challenging at the same time. I say that as a person who has played golf only three or four times in my life, and only under compulsion.
So, and that is a big draw for people. I think it's, involves the use of firearms. It involves skill. It is considered I think to be something of a gentleman's sport. And it doesn't involve killing any animals. So I think people who are revolted at the idea of killing animals for sport still can actively participate in trap and have fun doing it.
MK: So animal rights doesn't necessarily include clay pigeons?
JP: No, it--. Shooting trap or skeet, which is a variation on that, is, requires considerable hand-eye coordination and a lot of practice. And in my later years when my two boys, and my daughter, as a matter of fact, were in their teens, I introduced them to trap shooting up at the Gun Club. And particularly one of my sons became pretty adept at it and forced me to concentrate a little bit more to stay ahead of him. He became a pretty good marksman with, and including buying his own specialized shotgun for trap shooting. I still have the original shotgun that I bought when I was sixteen years old.
MK: Which is a?
JP: Winchester Model 12. Bought it from Bill Ryan, as a matter of fact. I--. And I know I was sixteen, because when I was fifteen, for Christmas I was given a single shot four-ten shotgun. And I, following year, when coot season came around, which is usually late September, mid-October, went coot shooting with my dad off of Manomet, in Plymouth.
JP: Oh. M-A-N-O-M-E-N-T. Manomet. It's a bluff south of Plymouth Center where today there is a lobster pound I believe still. And just beyond White Horse Beach, up on the bluff, there was a boat livery, a rowboat livery type of place where people used to go fishing in the summertime, built on posts and such out over the rocks, twenty or thirty, maybe even forty feet below the bluff. And they had rigged up a--. Originally I suspect there was a so-called donkey steam engine of some sort. But it had been electrified by the time I was there. And they had a little platform on rails where you loaded your decoys and your lunch and your equipment and pushed the button and it would go down to the platform or the--. There was a no bigger than a chicken coop of a place to get in out of the weather. And then on the platform there were fifty or 100 sixteen foot rowboats. And you would transfer your equipment to the rowboat. And the rowboat would be set in the cradle on another set of wheels. And you would be launched off of that platform until the water to go duck hunting.
But so I went down this particular first time with my four-ten single shot shotgun to hunt what was commonly called coot, but in reality legally were scoter duck . They're a sea duck.
Carrie Kline: What is it?
JP: Scoter. White-winged scoter. They're a scavenger duck. And the hunting takes place a half mile off shore. And these birds fly at forty-five, fifty miles an hour without a tailwind, which normally they had. They're big and black. And as a result, against the grey water and sky that time of the year, they look twice as big or twice as close as they actually are. And you're in a rowboat pitching nine ways for Sunday and trying to hit these birds that are doing sixty miles an hour. And I used to get a big chuckle out of folks that would go up and shoot trap or skeet and get twenty-two or twenty-three or twenty-four out of twenty-five, and--. I was in the high twenties, but I was never a twenty-four or twenty-fiver. So I used to invite them down sea duck hunting. And usually I'd sneak an extra box of shells, because they'd run out before they managed to get three or four birds, because they just had no experience out there in that kind of moving platform. So it was a good equalizer. And it--.
But anyway, I went down this particular time with a four-ten, and everybody laughed at me, because they were using not only twelve gauges, but a ten gauge, which is considered a cannon. And the four-ten is pint size compared to those two things. So I recall that we were out there, and I fired a number of times without success. And there was a small group of birds that came into the decoys at one point. And I popped up and my father hollered at me they were too far away, and I just decided I hadn't hit anything all day and I might as well keep trying. So I fired the shot, and I dropped three birds out of the five. Two of them died on the spot and the other we retrieved and so forth. We got all three. So of course, coming back at the end of the day, with my three birds, all the old-timer pros were--. My father was telling that I had shot three at once. And they said, "With what?" And I said, "With a four-ten." "Four-ten? Nobody hits anything with a four-ten, and so forth." Well I was quite proud of the whole thing, but I was smart enough to realize then, leave that gun home next year. And I decided to buy a twelve gauge! I knew I couldn't duplicate the feat. And I had that gun ever since. Been a good gun.
MK: I guess those guys had to eat crow, didn't they?
JP: Well they said--.
MK: Eat coot.
Oh, we went out there one time, and we got some birds, and we came back. And there was a local fellow. And evidently he had been after my dad for years and years and years to give him some of these birds and so forth. So it was a Saturday shoot. Bumped into Charley. He was begging the birds. So my dad gave him some of the birds. Sunday morning we're coming out of church at St. Bernard's. Charley comes along. And he came up to my father. He said, "Mr. Powers." He said, "Those G-D birds you gave me." He said, "My wife, she cooked them up." She said, "They stink the whole house up." My father said, "What do you mean?" "Well, my wife, she cleaned them. She put them in the oven." Well, as I mentioned, they're scavenger birds. So when you cook them you'll bring out that aroma, if you know what I mean. And the proper way to utilize the meat from those birds is to lay them on the back, skin them, open at the breast bone, peel the skin back, and then take the breast meat out, which is the size of your hand. And then you use that meat, stews, sautÃ©, onions, whatever. And it's quite tasteful. It tastes like liver, a little bit like liver. But if you do the whole bird, it would take you a week to air the house out—
JP: --which is . . . ! But, anyway, we got away from the Club here. I do also want to mention that the Club, supported, through its revenue stream, was able eventually to support conservation and other, hatcheries and stocking programs directly, and also through Middlesex County League, I think it was called. It was a group of sportmans' clubs that banded together, and the dues there were substantial and not necessary for the steering committee, which that was. But that committee then distributed funds to conservating, hunting and fishing type of efforts that needed funding.
PW: Locally and around the state.
MK: Such as . . . groups?
JP: I don't recall. But I do recall--. And they probably still do it. They had a program for years where they would have a drawing probably in the middle of the winter. And two young mostly boys, back my time, would be chosen, members' sons or relatives, or next door neighbors or something. Names would be drawn. Members would put the, these names in a hat. And they would draw two. And those two individuals would go to the conservation camp out in the western part of the state for two weeks camping, group camping in a structured conservation camp. And they would get trips to the hatcheries and so forth, and education on wildlife and whatnot, training with a bow and arrow, and camping out under a ex-Army, what? Fourteen by fourteen canvas tent? On cots and that kind of thing. And be driven around to various conservation hatcheries and things like that in the western part of the state. They--. I think they still--. I don't know if they still do it or not, but they've—
HD: We are—
JP: --done it--.
HD: We are still sending two or three kids every year to conservation camp and paying their—
HD: --tuition. We just had two of them come and report to the members meeting Monday night about their experiences this past summer.
HD: And the kids always come back with just, just very, very excited about the experience. The--. Now I think it's done at Boy Scout camps.
HD: I think there's one down in southeastern Massachusetts that they use. The Middlesex County League has all but disappeared.
HD: So the-. But we do participate in a lot of programs that are run by the—the State wildlife programs.
HD: We've run programs on teaching women about firearms and hunting, about young people, about bird hunting. And we've run a lot of those programs at the Club, which have been--. And we've run a hunter's education program, which is sponsored by the State. And I think there's a lot of interest. I mean, the conservation and our sporting interests go hand in hand.
HD: And so I think there's a lot of interest and a lot of support for conservation activities, such as--. Same kinds of things as Ducks Unlimited and other organizations like that, even GOAL League. Gun Owners's Action League, to which we belong.
MK: Gun Owners'--?
HD: Action League, which is the local affiliate of the NRA is a leading advocate for conservation interests in Massachusetts. And--.
MK: So would that suggest a dual membership in NRA, or are most members of the Club, would they be NRA members as well?
HD: I wouldn't say most, Many.
HD: Many are.
MK: Many are.
HD: Many are, and they're encouraged to become members. But many of the members say, "That's not--. We're interested in fishing. We're interested in conservation. We're interested in other--. We're interested in target shooting. But they--. So a lot of people say that's not where their interests lie. Because we're not just a gun club. We represent a variety of interests in the outdoors and outdoor activities, which happen to include the use of firearms in many cases, not in all cases, but. The--. Especially with regard to GOAL, they've been a very strong advocate for preserving, for conservation interests in the State. And the Club is, as a Club is a member of both the NRA and GOAL.
JP: But the NRA was--. I don't think I ever heard it mentioned in my time up there. It was--. We were simply a Rod & Gun Club.
HD: Umm hmm.
JP: And at one point they wanted to put the word "sportsman's" in, probably because of Musketaquid Club picking up that name.
HD: Umm hmm.
JP: And to broaden the appeal, and so forth. But I think it was left the Concord Rod and Gun Club—
HD: It is.
JP: --after much debate. But, not the NRA was not a organization that, at least through my time in the '60s, that was mentioned, really. Certainly it was not a topic of discussion around any meeting or anything. It might've been any individual's choice, but certainly not anything that I recall hearing about.
HD: I think that the reason that there was probably no interest back in those days is that there were virtually no restrictions on gun ownership. And so that the--. Whereas now Massachusetts is extremely restrictive. So I think--. So I think that is why people are involved in organizations that at least help preserve whatever remaining rights there are, with regard to the use of firearms for legitimate purposes.
JP: Do they still have the head of the State Fish and Game come to the meetings once or twice a year?
HD: [Loud exhalations] Well actually the--. One of our members is the—Ellie Horowitz, is, I think is the, is the State officer who's in charge of hunting and fishing in Massachusetts. And she has been a very active member. And in fact, for the last two or three years, she has brought the New England Outdoor Writers annual meeting to the Club. And they have had a--. They have really enjoyed coming to our Club. And I have personally prepared the luncheons for them, cooking everything from roast quail to roast beef, for them. And they're quite impressed with our Club. And they feel--.
MK: This is--?
HD: The New England Outdoor Writer's Association, which is a sports, sporting writers who write for a whole range of newspapers and magazines.
MK: And what kind of numbers do you get for that? How many come to that?
HD: Oh, I'd say about forty or fifty.
HD: We--. Also another big activity of the Club is the dinners that we now run.
MK: What are you laugh--? What are you smiling about?
JP: Ah! When he mentioned that he--, when Henry mentioned that he prepared the meals and so forth I remember the, the year that, the last year that my dad was voted in as president. I didn't happen to attend the meeting. And he was shanghaied, I guess you could say, to becoming president again, which he excepted. And I asked him what for. And he said that I had been named the new steward at the Gun Club.
JP: I said, "How could that happen? I wasn't there.
JP: I wasn't running for anything. And he said, "Well, I don't know, but you were nominated and voted in. So you're the new steward." And I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said, "Yeah, okay. Whatever." And that following weekend I went up to the Club to find out what he had got me into. And I discovered that the entire Kitchen Committee had quit. They evidently had had some kind of issues with the previous administration, I guess is the politically correct way to put it. And they were feeling unappreciated. So to demonstrate how indispensable they were, they all resigned. Nothing personal against my dad, they informed him. They had no idea that he was going to be shoehorned in as the next president, but just as a matter of principal, they were all done. So now I understood how come I was, all of a sudden, for--. I mean the Kitchen Committee had been in tact for fifteen or twenty years. The members of it were ex-military who had cooked in the military and elsewhere, at hunting camps and so forth. And they knew their business and could prepare meals and so forth.
Now a few weeks later, as this was the custom, I suspect still is, they have a monthly meeting at which there was a dinner. So every month or so one of the meetings would be a dinner meeting. And the Kitchen Committee would be empowered to provide typically a roast beef dinner. So part of the reason I went up that Sunday was to get a handle on when that was supposed to happen and who was going to take care of it and so forth. And I found out that it was a few weeks away and I was the one and only who was going to prepare a meal for probably fifty people. So after getting the lay of the land, I--. Unlike these folks who--. Most of them were retired military, or retired from professional and so forth. They would typically come up on the meeting night, which was Wednesdays, and they would be up there two or three in the afternoon. And they would begin to prepare the meal, and play Cribage and kibbutz, and have a great time for themselves.
I on the other hand was still in my working years, so I had things to do and places to go. And the first meeting, I had a busy day and didn't get really started as early as I had wanted to. And I went to the Triple A Market, which was over on Thoreau St. at the time. And we had a member, Skippy Hannahh, who worked there, who was also part of the Kitchen Committee. And through his connections, we had a locker to store the game meat that the members put there for the annual game dinner. And we also purchased the roast beefs and whatever we needed for the monthly meetings. So I had--. My qualifications for being the steward were that I had worked at Howard Johnson's as a, for a long time, at the counter and then in the kitchen, and had also worked in a little restaurant downtown when the owner went up sick and my dad happened to be his real estate agent and sold him the house he was living in. So when he couldn't do the kitchen, I go volunteered to work for his wife downstairs in the kitchen until he could get back on his feet. So I had experience, supposedly.
And. But anyway, the afternoon of the meeting I went up to get the roast beef, and they had these twenty or thirty pound chunks of roast beef. And I thought to myself, "There's no way I can get that cooked by 8:00 o'clock at night. So I went and purchased ten or fifteen one and a half, two pound roast beefs, and all the fixings, whatever I felt that I needed, and so forth. And I arrived at the Club probably at 4:30 or 5:00 o'clock, and sitting in the Cribbage room, which adjoined the kitchen was the Ex-Kitchen Committee! And, "Where the heck have you been?"
"What do you mean?"
"Don't you know there's a roast beef--? You got to get this thing--."
And I said,, "Yeah. Yeah, there's a meeting tonight. 8:00 o'clock I think. Right? Yeah. Yeah. No problem."
"Well you haven't started anything."
I said, "What did I need to start?"
So they're all laughing up their sleeve, thinking that I'm going to fall on my face, as I did too actually.
JP: But nevertheless, I opened the kitchen, went to work, and managed to put on a feed. And for the first time in history we didn't run out of well-done ends, because everybody likes a nice piece of end meat from the roast beef. I had plenty of ends. Nobody had complaints that night.
JP: And, next month was the same way. And then I threw a monkey wrench into it. I decided to do a leg of lamb without telling anybody. So I did a couple of dozen legs of lamb with apple green jelly, and. Should have heard the ruckus.
"What's this? How come? We don't do lamb here. This is roast beef."
I said, "Where's that written in the Constitution? I don't see it any place."
You know, "Too bad. It's roast beef." So that went on for a few months. And then one day, I'm not sure if it was John Dickey or Bing Barts [Bartolomeo], or one of the guys come up, said, "Hey Jim, would you like a hand with cleaning up?"
"Yeah, sure." And next time there was a couple people, and--. Because they were getting very frustrated that they were now essentially locked out. Because I had picked up new locks for the kitchens, and I had the only keys, and so forth, and they didn't have a place to play anymore. So eventually they decided that whatever it was that they were upset about was long since past, and pretty soon I gave out all the keys, and they were all happily back in the kitchen doing their thing, and I sat out in the Cribbage room and played Cribbage for the rest of the afternoon!
JP: But that was--!
MK: But you also had an experience, did you say, cooking?
HD: Oh, I do a lot of cooking at the Club. But we have--. Now we have a--. We have the game supper—
HD: --which is one of our biggest annual events. It's always oversold.
HD: We run a St. atrick's Day corned beef dinner. We run a roast beef dinner. We run a, in Oc—Octoberfest, and a fish fry, and several other big dinners where we might have eighty to a hundred people attend, members and their families and guests. And we have--. I have a lot of experience cooking for large groups of people, mostly from working in a homeless shelter [laughs] where I'll cook for fifty to seventy-five people once a month. And so we--. And I've been doing that for many, many years. And so I'm used to cooking for large groups of people and enjoy it.
JP: Yeah, they have a-- the game dinner every year. And the year I was on the Steward's Committee, they Kitchen Crew had returned, thank God, by that point. And again, as I say, they had experience in hunting camps and ex-military, and so forth. So they knew how to cook everything under the sun. But I quietly, over in the corner, decided to cook a large batch of breast beat from the sea duck, which had a reputation around the Club of, again, stinky meat and so forth. So I very quietly cooked it all up and told nobody what it was, and put it out with the rest of the meat. And of course everybody loved it, until they found out it was coot, and then they all kind of kind sick to their stomachs.
JP: Up until that point it was great, until they found out it was coot.
MK: Ignorance is bliss.
JP: It is. It's all--. I think they were predisposed to not liking it, and when they didn't know what they were eating, it was delicious. But as soon as they found out what it was, they all looked at me like I had poisoned them. But anyway, it was a kind of a chuckle made that night.
MK: Umm hmm.
HP: But there was a--. Do they still have a Cribbage tournament every--?
HD: yes, we do. We still have--. That's a regular activity during the winter.
JP: Serious activity, I might add.
CK: What is it?
HD: Cribbage. And we--.
HD: Cribbage. C-R-I-B—
JP: It's a card game.
HD: B-A-G-E. Or I-G-E?
HD: A-G-E. Cribbage. And it's a card game played with a
JP: Board . . .
HD: You use a board to keep score on. And it's--. You've seen Cribbage Boards. And they can be very elaborate, but it's--. I don't--. We do have that. We have--. What else do we do?
JP: We had a Cribbage tournament, typically runs for ten or fifteen weeks or something, look period of time, number of weeks.
HD: Yeah, this is a--. There's a league, if you will, where you play against other clubs. And it's like the, some of the other competitive activities where you, there's a group of sportsman's clubs that have Cribbage players who compete against each other, just as we have the trap teams go and compete in a trap league, where they—
JP: Archery as well.
HD: And archery as well. And also our pistol teams are in a league where we have those--. This is bull's eye shooting, which is called target shooting, on a fifty foot range. And there's a group of about eight or ten clubs that we compete against in a league. And I don't know if there are any other things that we do that are--.
JP: Cribbage has always been a part of--
JP: --of my family.
HD: Well, and it—
JP: We have a family trophy—
JP: --that any time the family gets together—. As a matter of fact, we just had a wedding down the Cape. And we all went down and stayed over! And the night before the wedding, the Cribbage games got over at 1:30 in the morning.
HD: Umm hmm.
JP: And my brother, Marty, the place we stayed in had a plastic sheet holder, one of those plastic, like a picture holder. And in it, it had a thing about quiet hours for the benefit of other guests in the hotel and so forth, which they had, I would assume, on every table in every room. The room that I had they, was a suite of two rooms and a living/kitchen area. And then my sons and daughters had a room. Marty had another room, and--. But we all gathered in my room for the social part of the weekend that wasn't at the wedding reception and so forth. So we had a--. They had a clam and lobster bake Friday evening. The wedding was Saturday afternoon. After the clam and lobster thing we all went back to my place and dragged out the Cribbage board and the trophy, and began to play Cribbage. And we went round robin and so forth. And if you know Marty, he hates to lose. And the first game my partner and I skunked them. And so it, for the rest of the evening I had to wave that thing about quiet hours in front of Marry, because he was quite vociferous about the—
JP: --about the game. And I think people who play Cribbage quite a bit take a great deal of pride in their game and winning. And I know that's the way it used to be at the Club.
HD: Umm hmm.
JP: That's very, very--. God forbid you should make a amateur move at the Cribbage tournament and cost your partner and you a point for the tournament or something, you'd hear about it for weeks after that! But. Good naturedly. But still you'd hear about it.
HD: We used to have a regular Friday night poker game too. But I think that's pretty much disappeared.
MK: Why would there be a loss of interest in the Friday night poker game.
HD: Don't--. Can't tell you.
MK: Can't tell.
HD: I can't tell you.
JP: I think the old-timers that played it all have passed on—
HD: Probably is.
JP: And it just died.
HD: Probably personal, personal relationships. And just convenient for people to come down and do it. People find it difficult to get out for regular activities. Especially now that we're getting I think younger crowd. I mean we get a lot of members who now are, have young children, which has its pluses and minuses. The plus is a lot of them join because they want their children to learn about the kinds of things that we do. But it also means their time is very limited, because they have family responsibilities. They're working full-time. And now, probably in many homes, you've got two wage earners, so that there's more. Each of the family members has more responsibilities at home. So, this is why I was saying that, that and all these other things have seemed to eat into the membership of the fraternal and social organizations, but it has not--. We have not suffered from that at all. We've got a--. I'd say every month we probably have at our Board of Directors meeting two, three, four, five or six people who come who want to join the Club, so that our total membership has been growing. And that also provides us with a source of labor, in the kitchen for instance.
JP: Umm hmm.
HD: Because we have a requirement that anybody who joins the Club has to put in two hours of work before they become a full-fledged member. And that always gives us people to scrub the pots at the dinners, wait on tables, and to help with the cooking.
MK: What do you call that? Indentured service, or--?
HD: No, we call it--.
JP: It's part of—
HD: We call, we call.
JP: Application requirement is probably technically what it is. But that--. Along with that there would be people who might be skilled in running a bulldozer or a backhoe, or something like that. And when some roadwork or heavy duty work around the Club is required, somebody might bring the backhoe or something in. But there's always room for a shovel to do the finish work. And the archery targets need maintaining, and there's always something that—
HD: Well, it's--.
JP: --needs to be done, so.
HD: It's an apprenticeship, we call it.
JP: . . . .
HD: Educational. Acclimatization. And getting to know people. And it's a--. You know—
JP: And it they're not willing to do the work, somehow they just don't become members.
HD: That's right. They don't become, they don't become—
JP: Meet the requirements.
HD: So they don't get the right to vote. And they don't get a key to the Club, and so on.
JP: So they--. It's a cooperative effort, how it always has been at the Club, to get things done. And it somebody's joined just for a place to hang out, they probably don't get to join.
HD: No. That's right. So--.
MK: Let's check in with David--
David Wood: Umm hmm.
MK: --just for a second.
MK: Could you say, "My name is?"
DW: Oh. My name is David Wood.
MK: David Wood? You've been sitting here very quietly throughout this interview. I wondered, since you're local and knowledgeable about Concord, if you had any questions, or if you could see any areas that we had not covered.
DW: Well, I was just enjoying the stories and hearing about what's going on. There were a few things that I wanted to slip in, especially a couple of things that you said, Henry. Henry was talking about trap shooting and didn't mention something that you've actually mentioned to me. You have much more experience in this than I do, that Concord actually has one of the most attractive trap shooting ranges in the state.
HD: I think that's right.
HD: I've been to many of them. And it is a very--. It's very pleasant, and people really--. People really enjoy coming to Concord to shoot at our range. It's a very natural environment. It's surrounded—
DW: Beautiful place.
HD: Surrounded by trees. And it's a very natural setting. And we all--. One of the things that we do and we've well known for is that the meals that we serve to the teams that come to the Club--. After a trap match, the custom in the league is for the host club to serve a meal. And our meals are--. People love to come just for the food.
DW: But the--. You know--.
DW: The--. In the summer, when the trap competitions are going on, the time for it is just about as the sun is going down. So it's the most remarkable setting. It's really just wonderful. And then there is something absolutely balletic about the way these teams move. You have the five people. And they'll call for the bird, and the bird comes out. And they take their shot. And there's this very formal counterpoint going on all the time. And meanwhile, it's sunset in the most spectacular little corner of the world. Because it is--. You know, Concord's a beautiful town in almost any place where you are in it. But, there are some, certain places in Concord that stand out. You know, you go out by where Verrill Farm is and look over the ridge there. That's one of them. And walk about Estabrook Woods. That's certainly one of them. And I'd say the Rod & Gun Club is one of those places too. It's just amazing. It's just a wonderful site. So the site absolutely plays a role in the feel for the activities that are going on. But--. And those activities are--. They are of the collegial nature that Henry's talking about, and absolutely that acclimatization of putting your hand to whatever job needs doing. And so you meet people who are there, and talk to people, and find out what's going on there, and find out, maybe, there are a whole bunch of things on offer here I hadn't anticipated at all. Pretty cool. So you get to see the whole shape of the Club. Because the Club has got its own personal history, slightly unlike other clubs of this kind in the area as Henry was saying, even slightly unlike the neighboring club right here in Concord. So they all have their--. There are these organic institutions that develop according to, by their own rules, and generate themselves through the membership. Very interesting to see. And I was at the sports writers' dinner this year. And they--. I should think they were impressed with that place, because it's really the real thin. It really is this big log cabin. And I don't know. It's the--. It's that site. It's the site that has a lot, or conveys a lot of this impression of the place, but not the--. That's completely different from the membership. And the membership's got its own life too that's kind of acted out in that place now. But there was a Club before there was the Clubhouse, as Jim was saying. And in fact it goes back even somewhat beyond the '40s. Charlie Dee wrote up that history in the '70s I think, wrote up a little history of the Club. And he was able to trace it back to about 1923, when one of the, was it a Maccone, who was a trap shooter?
HD: Auggie Maccone.
DW: Auggie Maccone was a trap shooter and was so good he ended up-- .He was world champion for one or two years. And it's almost as if he was so good that he needed a club
DW: --to get along. And so I get the impression from Charlie's account and from whatever I can hear is that, that's kind of where, that's the roots of it. It started out with an extraordinary talent in Auggie Maccone. So that's still there.
JP: Harry Tuttle.
MK: And the name of this history again is?
DW: I'm sorry, Jim. You were saying what?
JP: Now I was saying--. I was thinking about Harry Tuttle. I think he was the first president.
DW: Oh yeah?
JP: He was the Fire Chief in town.
JP: And he was--. I think he was the first president of the club. I'd have to go look on the plaque, if it's still in the Cribbage room, but I know he was one of the first presidents of the club, way before they had the clubhouse, probably at the, way before the time I got involved down on Main St. But--.
HD: Well we have a picture of a dinner in the old armory, which is the 51 Walden St., which was--. Then it was called Veteran's Building.
HD: Dinner of the membership there, before the club had a site where they could have a dinner. And it's kind of interesting that all the men there are wearing hats and suits--
HD: --in that picture, with--.
HD: You would not see somebody wearing a suit at the Club today. But I took a picture of something which shows the, I think the, how times are changing. It was a--. There is a--. In the bar area, there is a round table, which is an institution. It's called "the round table." And the people--. There are--. Usually old-timers sit there. They come there for coffee in the morning, and they have a certain--What could I say?—place in the Club. And probably about a year ago--. And usually has things like hunting and shooting magazines on it. Shotgun News and Shooting Times and Cabella's catalogs, and things like that. But the table was bare, and there was a copy of the Wall Street Journal on the table. And I took a picture of it, because I said that was something that shows how the membership of the Club has changed over the years.
JP: Umm hmm.
MK: And the name of this history of the Club? This--?
DW: I think it's here in the Library.
HD: The name you gave, it was Charlie Dee.
DW: Oh, Charlie Dee was the author.
MK: Was the author. But the title of the work? Not sure.
DW: I don't know.
MK: I just wanted whoever heard this tape to be able to reference it.
JP: Probably no title, just a--.
DW: Did he do it for the newsletter, or--? There's a copy of it here in the Library.
JP: Now, you mention Auggie Maccone.
CK: How do you spell his name, by the way?
JP: Last name is M-A-C-C-O-N-E.
CK: Okay, thanks.
JP: And Augie would be AU-G-G-I-E, I think. He lived up on Strawberry Hill Road, as a matter of fact.
HD: Yeah, his family owned a lot of property that is, was next to the Club.
JP: Still do.
DW: You were--. Henry, you were mentioning that you used to used Fairyland Pond as a sort of lending library for frogs—
HD: For wildlife, yes.
DW: I used to use Maccone's Pond, with my son, that--. He would--.
HD: Uh huh.
DW: He would just go in--.
JP: Well they used to--. Do they still do ice fishing up at the Club?
JP: Speaking of the pond.
HD: Yes. I think the answer is yes. I think, although I'm not sure how, whether it has been--. It kind of depends of the weather--
JP: Umm hmm.
HD: --and the--.
HD: I know in recent memory, we've done ice fishing out there.
JP: Years and years ago, my dad built a box to contain all his ice fishing—
HD: Umm hmm.
JP: --paraphernalia, the chisel and the—
HD: umm hmm.
JP: --traps, and so forth. And once he finished the box, he had to show it off. So we went up the Club a couple of times to go ice fishing, so that he could show the other members the box that he built and how it slid open and everything was right at hand and so forth. And we also went to Warner's Pond—
HD: Umm hmm.
JP: --come to think of it. We used to ice fish over there. But you mentioned Charlie Dee, and I recall a hunting trip that we were going on, down the ocean. And it was my--. It was Marty and I and my dad and Charlie. And they pulled a stunt on us that I never will forget. They stopped over on Thoreau St.. We were all in the car, all ready to go, probably on a Friday night, 6:00 o'clock, 5 o'clock, something like that. And they stopped at Sullivan's Package Store. And they went in. And they come out. And my dad I guess had a brown paper bag with what turned out obviously to be a bottle in it. And the two of them slide in the front seat and Marty and I in the backseat, and off we head. Now those we didn't even have [Route] 128. So to go down to Plymouth you went down the old Route 3, over hill and dale and around the corner. We took forever. And I remember the--. There was a river, North River.
JP: And we used to cross the North River. And that was like, "Oh, we're finally getting there," type of thing. But anyway, on this particular evening we start out. And pretty soon the two of them start passing this bottle around in the brown bag. So Marty and I are looking at each other. "This is totally out of character," and so forth. And as time went by, they were telling stories. But the stories became a little bit slurred and so forth. So, we're getting a little bit nervous in the back. And every once in a while my dad would kind of drift over the yellow line and so forth, and, to the extent where Marty and I finally started to say something to them. And, "Don't worry about it. We're fine," and so on and so forth. It was a nightmarish ride, all the way down. And when we finally got there, we got out of the car. And then he said," Here. Why don't you have a sip?" And I said, "Oh no, that's okay." Well he insisted on it, only to find out that it was milk. So they had been pulling our string all the way down—
JP: --for an hour and a half. The two of us in the backseat were absolutely petrified we were going to have a head-on collision or go off the edge of the road. But they were having a great chuckle at our expense all the way down. It was an interesting trip.
MK: Questions over in this corner?
CK: Well I'd like to hear more about the change, the excitements for the future of the Club, the disappointments over the shifts, and how it reflects the changes in the Town.
JP: Well, I think the change is reflective of the world we live in. It's not--. There's nothing dangerous about it. As they say, "There's nothing constant but change." Same thing for any of the, any organization or this Club or any other Club. And I think, with the advent of electronic gaming and all the other things, all the other sports, everything that's on TV, the activities and so forth might change, but the social fabric of any club, this club included, is to get together and enjoy company and talk about different things and talk about different things. Of a common nature. So that's--. In my time, it was hunting and fishing. And at the end of my time it became archery. As I was fading out of active participation in the Club, because of my family and work constraints, the archery movement was building in the Club. And they were probably predominant at that point in time. Whether it has balanced off now again or not I don't know. But anyway the Club will survive. They are, I presume, financially stable, because they paid off the mortgage years and years ago, which is why, deliberately, July 4th and Labor Day outings went from two a year, down to one on July 4th. And then once the mortgage was finally paid off, again, that twenty percent was getting tired of doing it year after year. And they didn't need the money to meet the obligation anymore. So it just kind of went away.
One of the big money makers at that time was the, is the auctions they used to run. The Club membership would donate what we would probably call today yard sale stuff. And instead of having yard sales, which were unheard of, they donated it to the Club. The Club displayed it in the meeting room for a month or so before the July 4th shindig. And then at the auction, my dad, who was a licensed auctioneer, would auction off these donations to the bidding public. And that at that time boosted the attendance at the July 4th field day, which had waned some, because of the changes in demographics that Henry talked about. All of a sudden this auction was attractive to folks to come up and find some great little things they could use, and so forth. And it was a money maker.
But they--. Finally, the July 4th went away, because finally there was no pressing need for the money. And everybody had lots of things that they could do at home, I'm sure. So--.
MK: And you said the Town had—
HD: Started a, their own activity.
HD: The called it Picnic in the Park, which is the Emerson Playground, where they have run a, kind of an activity, a family activity with music and—
HD: --bicycle parades, and fire engines. And all of the different organizations in town have booths where they will either distribute their literature, or sell--. Like the Rotary sells Slush, and so on. And it's--. The people whoa re around have been more attracted to that. And it has made it very difficult for the Club to maintain that July 4th activity, even tough we may have tried. But also, a lot of people just go away, especially July 4th weekend is a big--. And now I think our membership is probably composed more of people who in fact have second homes or can afford to go away, rather than spend their July 4th here in town.
JP: . . .
HD: It's one of the things that makes this town very attractive during the summer is that most of these people have gone away!
MK: Does the Club do a booth at the--?
HD: No, we don't. No, we don't. But that's a, it's a good idea. We probably ought to talk about it.
DW: Now you've done it!
JP: Do they still get a lot of rental income from the rental of the--?
HD: We do. We rent out our hall to all kinds of activities and organizations, everything from birthday parties, to meetings.
JP: Umm hmm.
HD: And we probably have a rental at the Club a couple of times a month. Oh, I know what I wanted to say is, with the archery people, that group, that has been a very steady group. And they are one of the most active groups. They are really, although they refer to them as the archery group, are really the people who are the most serious hunters. And they actually have a, their own meeting every Thursday night at the Club where they cook and they socialize and just spend time together there. And if you want to come on any particular night, when you're going to find a lot of people in the Club, at the Club, Thursday night—
JP: Thursday night.
HD: --is a night to go there.
JP: It used to be always Wednesdays, but now it's Thursdays.
HD: Well, they've ch--. Maybe they just--.
JP: Do they still have Santa Claus and the stuff in--?
HD: Yes, we have a children's Christmas party.
HD: We do. We have--. And I think we have an Easter egg hunt. It's all those kinds of things that kind of, that have kind of gone by the board in most places. I think that you mentioned a lot of what has changed has changed with the times. But I think the nice thing is that we've changed more slowly.
JP: Um hmm.
HD: It's kind of like having one foot out the car door—
HD: --and dragging it on the ground.
HD: Or as a teacher said of my oldest son, that he marched to a different drummer but one step behind!
JP: I got--. Again, I think I got shanghaied by my father one year. But I was--. I got shanghaied by my father and the Chamber of Commerce to play Santa Claus for the
Chamber. And as a result, I had a Santa Claus suit that they rented, and so forth. And therefore I was a great candidate to be the Santa Claus at the Gun Club.
HD: Umm hmm.
JP: So, I remember, I had it for a number of years, and there was a--. I had a great deal of enjoyment, both in the Town and at the Club, particularly at the Club, because the parents would bring the kids up to sit on Santa's lap. And at that age then, I suppose, seven, eight, nine, ten, where the belief was starting to fade, it used to be a chuckle to see the parents, and then have the young boy or girl tell me that they were Bobby Jones, or something from--. And I said, "Oh, yeah." I remember. I think it was Inferarra, lived down on Shady Lane, off of Lexington Rd. And they brought up, I think his son. And it was obvious that he was studying my phony beard and trying to make, trying to see if Santa Claus was real, and so forth. And I asked him who he was, although I knew he was Inferarra although I didn't know his first name.
CK: What? I'm sorry. His last name?
JP: So, I said, "Oh, yeah. And have you been a good boy?" and all this kind of thing. And he was giving me the, kind of a snide answer. And I'm thinking, he's not a believer anymore. And I said--. So I said, "Now, let's see. So you live down on Shady Lane." And you could just see his eyes pop open. And I said, " The log cabin house." I said, "You know, you've got to clean that ch--.Have your father clean the chimney—"
JP: "—because last year--.
JP: And, you know, this kid went away completely confused, because he now couldn't decide if Santa Claus was real or make believe.
JP: And I had so much fun that the next--. I did the Camber thing for many years. We used to set up a big chair in what was the Middlesex Savings Bank, under the portacle there, go up to the Depot, do the same thing, go to West Concord. And then we'd go to the Hospital. We used to use the fire truck to get around. But I had so much fun with the kids at the Gun Club that I, when I noticed somebody downtown that I knew--. And those days you knew a lot of people in town. Today, of course, you wouldn't. You'd throw a few things out which would catch them all off guard, and confuse them. And you know, maybe this is real, and so forth.
JP: But at the Gun Club one year, I think the funniest thing was when my wife brought my oldest son. And I couldn't imagine that--. I said, of all the silly things for her to do, because if he ever found out, he'd give the whole thing away in front of everybody else. So I had to be very careful and managed to get through the whole thing without my son realizing that he was talking to his dad, which was kind of funny.
DW: Wow. You really are Santa Claus.
MK: Yeah, maybe you really are.
JP: [Laughs] But that was always a good take for the kids. The Club always had all kinds of family-orientated events and so forth. And that was just one that I happened to, as I say, be pressed into service, volunteered by my dad. He was very good at volunteering lots of folks to do lots of things.
DW: [Laughs] It's a gift.
MK: One kind of last question in my mind is about the forty acres today. Is it possible to actually hunt any creature—
MK: --at all on that forty acres with a bow?
HD: Actually, it's more, closer to fifty acres. And yes, people do hunt on or property; members do.
MK: Gun hunt?
HD: Nah. Nah. I'm not--. No. I don't think so. Well, yes, they do shoot--. They do shoot migratory birds on the pond. Shotguns. I mean that is not something that carries very far. But they do do some bird hunting on the pond.
JP: Yeah, that was the extent of it back I my time. There was--.
HD: Because there are some duck blinds out there and stuff like that. But I would say I'm not aware of anybody actually hunting on our property with guns. But they do certainly go out there with bows and shoot deer on our property. In fact we have--. I think that the archers have planted a couple of dozen young apples trees in the parking lot at the end. And looks like they plowed up an area where they're planting some kind of alfalfa, or whatever it is, some kind of grain that would attract deer and other game. So I think that, yeah, I know that people do hunt on our property with bow.
MK: And what about bird hunting? Pheasant hunting, or--?
MK: That's more shotgun.
HD: It is a shotgun thing. But--.
JP: . . . .
HD: But we do have wild turkeys. There are natural--. There are wild, wild turkeys on our property, and I don't know whether people hunt them, but I think they probably do. Pheasant, there is no--. I think there is no natural pheasant. We do--. And I think most of the places around here where they hunt pheasant are stocked.
DW: Coyotes sort of took care of the pheasant about fifteen years ago.
MK: And the grouse along with it?
HD: I don't see any.
DW: Never seen one.
JP: yeah, I don't' recall, back in my time up there that, other than an occasional person on the pond for duck season, that anybody ever hunted. The land itself is not conducive to hunting, because it's all heavily wooded. And there was no inherent population of fowl or anything else to hunt, so that--.
DW: I would just mention--. Henry mentioned before that membership is still perking along, that they membership is--. You--. Jim mentioned it was about 300 maybe in the '50s, and it's--.
JP: It was--.
DW: It's getting close to 400 now.
HD: Yeah, it's 375—
HD: --right now. And about the quarter--. About 75 of the 375 are actually like members—
HD: --which is a status that people have attained after a certain long number of years as a regular member.
HD: So we've got a lot of old timers--
HD: --and a lot of—
DW: But it's not--. And you mentioned too that a lot of fraternal and social organizations are graying. And it's a very well-recognized phenomenon, and it's--. You'll see it in lots of different aspects. I mean it happens in antiques and collecting too. All the collectors seem to be graying, and all--. The--. It's not an activity necessarily that the young people are picking up on, but it's just--. You know, the Gun Club isn't graying. I was thinking it's actually sort of greening, in a sense that they--. The members that are coming in are, you know, their thirties, their twenties--
DW: --sometimes. And you know, what--? Wouldn't the Rotary just love a new thirty-year-old member? It just doesn't happen.
JP: Is the membership still closed?
HD: No. No. I mean--.
JP: Because back when it, back in the '40s and '50s, as a marketing ploy—
HD: Umm hmm.
JP: --they made it a closed membership. I think they had a hundred members at the time. But they closed it at 250.
HD: Well that was what--. That's--. Musketaquid has I think a 100 member limit to their Club. As long as I have been in the Club we have not have a—When you say closed, meaning a ceiling on the number of memberships. And--.
JP: That's why I gave up my membership, because when I became too heavily involved with the family, and the Concord Minute Men, and some other things, my dad being very active, and having a life membership, there was a waiting list to get into the Club at that time of probably 75 people.
HD: How long ago was that?
JP: Probably in the '60s.
JP: So I gave up my membership, because I knew I would have access from my dad--
JP: --so somebody else could join that would actually enjoy it and participate.
HD: We do not--. We have--. It's an open membership now.
HD: And I think the view is that members are an asset, rather than--. And you know, they pay dues.
HD: Which is an asset. And they bring interest and skills, and we're not even close to the point where any of our facilities are overtaxed. So that if anything may of them are underutilized. So there's--. The only reason to limit membership would be the reason that you mentioned, which is the, kind of the marketing issue, where as--. And people still do ask me, "Is--"
JP: . . .
HD: "Can I join? Can I--? Is the membership open?" assuming that it isn't—
JP: Umm hmm.
HD: But in fact—
JP: For years and years it was.
HD: And I think it does, to some extent, make it more attractive to people if they think that they--.
J: Well when they first started, it was closed at 100 or something like that. And when they finally hit 100, they let it sit there for a year or two, and then they made it 125—
JP: And then they made it 150. And they--. One point I think it was 350.
HD: So it's something that we debate from time to time, but the—if--.
MK: So it would be more attractive if what?
JP: You couldn't get in.
HD: Well, if people think that it's--.
HD: Jim mentioned the marketing thing, and there is a certain, there's a certain kind of appeal of an organization where you think you have to wait for a year before they have a spot for you. And it does build up some anticipation, and also would prevent people from dropping out because they haven't used the Club, so that they think, "Well, I can always join again if I want to." So they're more likely to drop out if there, if there is no waiting list to come back. So it's a marketing issue, but the reality of the situation is that at least for the foreseeable future, there is no disadvantage, and there are many advantages to having more, rather than fewer members.
CK: Umm hmm. I was just wondering how--. Are there ways that the older members pass along their knowledge, or the traditions?
HD: By being there.
HD: By being there. I mean they--.People associate with each other. They meet at, sitting around the Club. They meet at different activities. They meet at dinners. A lot of the--. I mean if you go out on the trap range you're find people who are in their sixties and seventies, shooting alongside sixteen-year-olds. And.
DW: It's interesting.
JP: And a lot fo the old--.
MK: So the transfer of the legacy is informal and—
MK: And happens just as a matter of—
DW: It's built in.
JP: Umm hmm.
HD: Yes, it's informal, which is the way life should be.
JP: The nights they have, for instance, the Cribbage tournaments, or anything of that nature, if there were members who found it difficult to get out and about, it was quite common for other members to arrange to pick them up and drive them to the Club and drive them home, so that they could still participate and be part of the Club. I know that most of the senior members, the membership of the Club and the social gathering is a highlight for them each week. And there's always somebody picking up somebody and driving them up the Club for a dinner or whatever.
CK: I wonder if that's still the case now.
JP: Not sure.
HD: Well we do have people who drive for some of the older members who--. Especially some of the older members who have difficulty driving at night, because of their eyesight, get taken to activities by other members.
DW: There's a--. Henry touched on something too, an aspect I guess, of the Club, which is that conservation aspect, the conservation camps and the, and so on, and that recalled certainly something that Henry Thoreau wrote about in Walden, which is that if you want to know what's going on out in the woods, ask the hunters, because they really know, know it on this first-person, firsthand way. And so that--. And as Henry also pointed out, the connection--. Ducks Unlimited, this group that preserves open space--. Well, they preserve open space because they like to shoot ducks, and, but, what's the upshot? They preserve open space. And the--. There is this deep connection between the interest of the people at the Rod and Gun Club and what anybody would term "conservation interests" and so on. And yet, probably if you would ask the members, "Are you a conser--?" "Are you a green kind of hippie?" And—
HD: No, they would--.
DW: They would say, "No."
HD: They would be--. Yes, they would be offended by that. But the--.
DW: But the fact is, it's--.
HD: The point is that--.
JP: They all contribute heavily to Ducks Unlimited. And I think Ducks Unlimited is—
DW: But also have that—
JP: --Probably number one habitat provider in the continent.
DW: --knowledge, and that relationship, and that understanding of that outdoors.
DW: And it's that kind of thing that I'm--. When you're standing out there, as I say, while the sun is going down on the trap range, that's the kind of thing that they seventy-year-old gets to impart to the sixteen-year-old.
HD: I just think the intensity of your experience is much, almost in any activity, is increased by the fact that you are out there to be doing something.
HD: And it is a more intense experience than just going out there and looking at it, if you know what I mean. If you have some role, some mission, some goal, to get you out there--
HD: You're motivated in a way that you are not if you just go to admire. I mean it's the same thing with music, for instance. I mean it's one thing to listen to it. It's another thing to play it. And you could listen to things—
DW: . . . good point.
HD: --over and over again and still not be sure which one it is, or what the name, or what the, you know, recognizing it as, by title or composer. But if you've played, it, you'll have no difficulty in knowing exactly what it is. And so if you're out there in the woods, trying to look for tracks and trails--
HD: A—then you really do participate in the environment, which is--.
JP; Well it's also a great way to bond with the younger generation. I mean my dad took me out all the years that we used to go quote, "deer hunting" in the western part of the state. And it was the getting up at the, before the crack of dawn and driving for an hour and a half, two hours, and then getting out into the woods before daylight, and having that father son type of thing and so much so that when my boys were of age I did the same thing. But the funny part of it is that although we used to call it deer hunting, I can't remember—
JP: --in all the years that we ever went that anybody ever fired a shot.
HD: Umm hmm.
JP: It was more of a walk in the woods.
HD: Yeah, but if you said—
JP: But still.
HD: But if you said," Son, let's go for a walk in the woods," you say—
HD: "What Dad, you crazy?" [Laughs]
JP: But I did learn the difference between various tracks and things. Beavers ponds we've stumbled across it the woods and so forth. And I recall what my son Ryan--. We were out one time, out in Warwick, Massachusetts. And we're out in the woods, and had gone all the way out. And we stopped. And the proverbial, you could hear a pin drop. And I think that was a revelation to him to be out there in the middle of the woods and not hear a thing, except the whistling of the wind through the trees, and no airplanes, no traffic, nobody talking, and so forth.
HD: And still there are things to hear--
JP: Oh, yeah.
HD: --when there is silence.
JP: I took my wife, quote, "deer hunting" when we first got married, because she was all against it and so forth. And we spent--. We found some tracks, so we followed the tracks, for hours. Never saw a thing. And I always wondered, what the heck would I do if I ever did see something, because I, first of all didn't want to really shoot it. Second of all, I couldn't envision lugging it all the way back—
JP: --to where we started! But anyway, we had spent the, three or four hours tracking and tracking. Finally she had had enough. And she said, "Let's head back." And I said, "Yeah. Okay." So she started off. I said, "Where are you going?" She said, "To—. Back to the car." I said, "Not that way, you're not." And she, "What do you mean?" I said, "That's not the way to go." "Oh yeah." I said, "Take out the compass and have a look." So she took out the compass and looked at it. And she said, "Well I don't care what that--." You know, "That's the way back." I said, "Well you can go that way."
JP: "But I think I'm going to go this way!" And she was insisting that the car, that was the way to go. So of course we went about fifty yards the way the compass said to go and came out to the tote road, which took us down to where our car was. And I said to her, "That's one of the first lessons I taught the boys, is, ‘Whatever that compass says, you better believe it, because if you don't, we'll be looking for you tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn, because you'll never find your way home. Got to follow the compass.'" But--.
MK: Well this has been great. Fantastic. It's--. I never knew there'd be so much to say about a Rod & Gun Club.
HD: Oh, we haven't even begun.
DW: It's true. It's true.
HD: I mean there's so much--. I mean there are so many more stories. And—
HD: Marty has a ton of stories that you haven't mentioned.
CK: I think we're going to see him, hoping.
HD: Are you? Good.
CK: I don't know. He's on the list.
HD: Good. Well—
JP: Well whatever he says, don't believe it!
HD: No, that has nothing to do with the value of stories.
MK: We'll take it with a grain of Cribbage.
HD: Uh huh.
CK: Any other final comments? You all look like there's so much left to say I know.
HD: Like to see you go out to the Club and have a look at it, so you see the context, what we're talking about, I mean whether or not that's part of your project, just as a, kind, of, as a matter of kind of getting an i--., getting an idea of what we're talking about, I'd love to see you just come out.
JP: Also, there's a pictorial history of a lot of the stuff that we've talked about around. I made an attempt a couple days this past week to try and locate slides. Unfortunately, my dad was big on slides, that he took when the Club was being built, when the pond was being dredged and built, and so forth. Umm. And didn't have any luck because of thirty or forty years of accumulation up in the attic that's in the way. Wasn't—
HD: . . .
JP: Wasn't where I thought it was. So I know it's there someplace, or it's at another place. But there are probably some pictorial record that should go with this that's available.
HD: And this man Charlie Dee that was mentioned, had made home movies of all kinds of things in the Town, including the Club, which David has seen and I think is going to be shown at the, that dinner that you're going to be going to.
DW: Right, the Concord—
HD: Business Partnership.
DW: Business Partnership. This is Charlie Junior now, who's—
JP: Uh huh.
DW: --who's showing those. And it was Charlie's uncle, actually, who started that back it in the '30s.
DW: It's quite an archive too.
DW: Much to do.
HD: Much to do. Yes.
MK: Much to do.
HD: Umm hmm.
RECORDING ENDS AT 40:30 OF DISC TWO