Interviewer: Michael and Carrie Kline
Place of Interview: Concord Free Public Library
Transcriptionist: Grace Willliams
Michael Kline: This is Michael and Carrie Kline in the Board Room of the Concord Free Public Library. It's September 30th, a drizzly, rainy morning, and we're here with Mr Harvey. Could you say, "My name is" and tell us your name?
Bruce Harvey: Yes, my name is Bruce Harvey.
MK: And your age please, or your date of birth?
BH: My date of birth is February 3, 1932, which makes me 78. And I've been a resident in Concord since 1960. Born in the city of Boston, raised in Lexington. I joined the Concord Rod and Gun Club in 1973 as a result of my son, who was a boy scout, going to boy scout camp and being introduced to shooting. So when he came home from camp he said he wanted to continue shooting. So, we used to go off to the sand pit is in Maynard and do some shooting but, like it does every year, it got cold, in the winter. So we were looking for a place indoors to shoot. I had heard about the Concord Rod and Gun Club, of course, ever since I moved to Concord. I heard about their wonderful Fourth of July outings with lobsters and steamers and all that good stuff, but never had attended one. So, I applied for a membership with Jim Powers as my sponsor. Jim was the president of the club, and at that time we needed two alternate sponsors. So, not really knowing any people in town, he recommended I go to the fire station, because a lot of fire fighters were members of the club. So I was co-sponsored by Snowball and Bob Tolland.
BH: Yeah, he's a neighbor of mine. I can't place his last name at the moment. Johnson, Snowball Johnson. So, I went up to the club, and it turns out that they had a limited membership at that time of, I think it was 200. And along with that they had a requirement of a certain percentage being somebody from Concord and abutting towns to keep it a local club. So, they never had any problem keeping the membership at the maximum number, but sometimes they had problems juggling the ratios. But as it turned out for me, they had voted to extend the membership to 250. So prior to that they always had a waiting list of 25 people, and a waiting waiting list of another 25 people. And they wouldn't connect--. Collect names beyond that. So, fortunately for me, in March of '73, when I applied the flood gates opened and they allowed another 50 members in. So I got right in instead of waiting like most people had to do. So, my son and I started our many years of enjoyment with the club. We progressed from .22 shooting to shot gun shooting. And the fellow I worked with offered me his shotgun to use, because he says, "You don't want to just go out and buy a gun. You want to try something and see if you really want to shoot." So my son has--. My son and I tried his shotgun, and we didn't really like it. But one of the club members there had a different gun, and we tried that, and that was--. Felt so good that we immediately went down to a gun store and bought a Remington 1100. I still have the gun today, and I really enjoy it.
MK: Which one didn't you like?
BH: That was a Browning,, what they call a Humpback Browning. And they're both twelve gauge, but the Remington 1100 is a gas-operated semi-automatic, meaning that when the gases are generated from the exploding powder, part of the energy is used to recycle the gun, making it a semi-automatic, which means every time you pull the trigger you can fire off another round. So the fact that it absorbed some of that energy made it seem to be softer on the shoulder. And my son being eleven years old, that made quite a difference. So, he and I actually bought the gun, and it still belongs to both of us. So.
MK: Does guns and shooting and hunting, as a tradition, go back in your family anywhere?
BH: No it doesn't. I'm the youngest of five children. Actually I had a younger brother who I sometimes don't include in that, because he only lived about six months. So, my oldest brother and the one next to me both did some hunting, but nobody else in the family did. My brother that's two years older than I am lives in Woburn. And he joined the Woburn club when he was 16, and his story about getting a shot gun was that they told him a twelve gauge would be too big for him, so he should do a sixteen gauge, being a smaller gun. And, he regretted ever since the fact that he bought a sixteen gauge instead of twelve, because sixteens are not very popular. Ammunition is more expensive and harder to find. But, he has enjoyed that. My oldest brother did some hunting. He lived out in Idaho for awhile, and he did a lot of hunting in Idaho. My only hunting experience is very limited. I've gone pheasant hunting. And some people say it's like fish in a barrel, because I can go to a game preserve in Maine. And we would pay the fee for shooting. They'd put the birds out, and we would go out and harvest the birds. So, we've done that quite a few times--. Quite a few years. But it's very taxing; it's about four hours, continually walking through the rough terrain, the woods and all that, so. I don't think I'll be doing much of that anymore.
MK: So then, quite apart from hunting then, this idea of shooting mark, shooting target, was the thing that appealed to both you and your son?
BH: Yeah, I got into some .22 shooting when my son was first shooting, because we have an indoor range. And I ended up, I bought a hand gun from someone I worked with, so that I could shoot with my son. And then I shot on the pistol team. We have several pistol teams in the club actually. And I shot in that for a while. But then I got out of pistol shooting, because I found shooting paper to be boring. I found that breaking clay targets with a shotgun, you get instant gratification, and it's much better. So, I really --. I really enjoy the trap--. The shotgun target shooting. In fact, for a while I was doing it six days a week. And that's because I couldn't find a place to shoot on Fridays. Otherwise I would've been doing it everyday.
MK: You couldn't shoot at the club on Fridays?
BH: Well I could, but it's not something you do singly. You know, you have to--. It is much better if you have other people shooting with you. So I found it was alright actually to have Friday off. I actually belong to another club out in Lunnenberg. It's called the North Leominster club. And you'll find that's common with a lot of clubs around here, that the name of the club doesn't agree with the location. And the reason for that is that in a situation like North Leominster, that's a larger town population and all than Lunnenberg. So they found that they could get property cheaper in Lunnenberg than they could in North Leominster. So they'd buy property in an adjoining town, and they would name it the North Leominster Rod and Gun Club. But it was situated in Lunnenberg. The same is true with many other clubs around.
MK: North Leominster. Check the spelling of that for me.
BH: L-E-O-M-I-N-S-T-E-R. Yeah. So.
MK: So you--. You belong to two clubs.
BH: Oh yeah. That's very common, a lot of people, in an effort to support the shooting, the whole activity, they belong to many clubs. I'm active also at the Nashoba Club, although I'm not a member there. I say I'm active, because in the winter they serve breakfast on Sunday mornings, and some people say I've never missed a meal. So I enjoy going there for breakfast. And then it would be the shooting at the Nashoba Club, which is in Acton, a neighboring town. Or we'd go out to Lunnenberg and shoot at the North Leominster Club. That's something that we seem to always do throughout the winter, weather permitting. And then we'd get back to Concord by one o'clock, and we'll shoot at Concord in the afternoon. So.
MK: So you were sponsored by Jim Powers, Junior or Senior?
BH: Yes, he was the president of the club at that time.
MK: Tell us everything you can remember about him, because he sounds like an interesting character.
BH: Oh Jim was a very powerful man. He was into real estate and . . . . And he was the moving force behind making the club what it is today. The club was founded in 1926, and they had no place to meet. They used to meet at like a coffee shop or whatever. And then they found a small building, and they had meetings there. This building ended up on the state property at Walden Pond. And I think it has since been destroyed. But in the early '50s, Jim negotiated the purchase of the club. The club now consists of about 45 or 47 acres. But I don't know how many acres he started with in 1950, because I know there are some other parcels that were added later than that. And Jim was very instrumental, from what I hear, because this was all prior from when I joined the club. But he was very instrumental in fundraising to get the club going. He used to have events at the Sportsman Show at the Mechanics Building in Boston. That was a big fundraiser, and of course our annual Fourth of July picnic, club outing, whatever. People came for miles to come to that. We haven't had that for probably--. I'm estimating now--ten, fifteen years. We still have people call and ask the exact date of when it's going to be, because they've come in the past, and they want to come again. So Jim did a lot for the club. He even negotiated, quite a while back, where we drained the pond and salvaged the silt from the bottom of the pond, put it in the parking lot to dry for a year or two, and then we sold that off. We would like to do that again, but with the regulations the way they are today, I don't think we'll be able to see that happen. What happens is that the organic matter, the leaves and stuff, that come down into the pond--. It just fills the bottom of the pond and makes the pond that much shallower. And with the shallow water, the water gets too warm in the summer for the fish to survive. So it's difficult for us to have any trout that winter over. We do have some fish that winter over, like bass and a lot of trash fish. But, we do use the pond quite a bit for fishing. We have a kid fishing derby and a members fishing derby in - usually in April. And then we sometimes stock it for winter fishing, depending on the interest.
MK: Ice fishing?
BH: Ice fishing, yeah, in the winter.
MK: Talk about that a little bit.
BH: Well, yeah, we don't always do that--. And I'm kind of a fair weather guy. I don't get into ice fishing because the weather. Too cold. But I understand the secret of ice fishing really is, first you go downstairs in the clubhouse to our members lounge, and you look out the window. And you make sure that you locate a spot where you are going to dig the hole, because what you want to do is dig the hole and set your tip up for the fish, and then go back in the club house where it's warm and watch for that flag to come up and you know you got a fish on. So then you go out and pull in the fish. And I understand you should dig a big hole so that you're sure enough to get the big fish out. You don't want to get a fish that's too large to come out a small hole. I've never heard of that happening, but that's what I understand is what the advice is.
MK: The principles of it.
CK: I thought you were going to say you had to get a warming beverage while you were indoors.
BH: That has been known to happen. Yes. Yeah. Speaking of beverage, we do have a beer and wine license. At one point we were the only establishment in the state that had a beer only license, because if you get a beer license you can get a wine license, so everybody always had a beer and wine license. But ours being at that time a men's club, nobody would drink wine. So we had no need for a wine license. So we just applied for a beer license. That way it wasn't--. That's the way it was for many years. But, we now have a beer and wine only, no hard liquor. We can get in enough trouble without it. So we don't want it. I don't think you'll ever see a hard liquor license, even if it was available. I'm not sure it would be, but I don't think that the club would ever get one. So.
MK: It is not a good mix with guns, is it?
BH: No. No. One or the other, but they--. The two don't go together.
MK: Well now did your son get interested in the fishing as well when you joined the club?
BH: Oh yeah, all the kids in town they always go to the kids' fishing derby. It's open to anyone under 14 years of age. And it's almost like Little League you know. It's almost every kid gets a trophy. Not quite, but we do afford a lot of trophies for the kids' fishing derby. It's quite a day. The kids come out, and it's free for the kids. They register and get a t-shirt with a fishing derby on the shirt. And then we provide lunch for the kids. We charge the adults for the lunch, and that pays for the total cost of the lunch. And we award prizes for largest fish, smallest fish, most different fish, and so on. All different categories. I think we give out like fifteen or twenty trophies. For many years, Bing Bartelomeo, who was the one that started the Kids' Fishing Derby--. And it's now named the Bing Bartelomeo Memorial Kids' Fishing Derby. So, for many years, Bing ran the Kids' Fishing Derby. And in an effort to raise money for this, he used to put on spaghetti lunches, and he did this on every Wednesday. So people from all around town would go there to have lunch on Wednesdays, because you couldn't beat it. And Roy Anderson was a member who started, along with two other members, Giant Payne, Warren "Giant" Payne and Bill Murray. And they started what they called The Can Committee. And they would collect--.
CK: The (. . .) Committee?
BH: The Can Committee. And they would collect deposit cans and donate that money to children, children's efforts, children's causes and so on. And sometimes they would raise five thousand dollars in a year on the deposit cans. So this was a big help to the club, in that it of course aided us in buying the fish for stocking, so--. They had regular routes they'd go around in different places of business, auto repair shops and whatever. They would save all the cans. And Roy and Bill had pick up trucks, and they'd go around collect the cans. And Giant's job was to sort out the cans, because at that time I guess you had to return Coca-Cola cans one place, and Pepsi cans another place, and so on. So Giant did all the sorting. So that went on for quite a few years. And--. First Bill Murray died, and the other two kept going. Then Giant died, and Roy Anderson kept doing it alone. And people--. Members of the club and so on would bring cans up to the club for him to take to the Redemption Center. Our vice president, Kim Sullivan, thought it would be a good idea for her to redeem her own cans and give the slip to Roy, so he wouldn't have to go through the process of putting these cans through the machines. So I thought that was a pretty good idea, so that's what I would do. And very often when I would be there at the Redemption Center putting the cans through the machines, I'd see Roy come, so I would help him empty his truck and run the cans through. So we're going to miss Roy. He just passed away this year, and we hope that the tradition continues. We hope we can find enough people to keep going and keep this source of income alive.
MK: You said it was about 5,000 a year?
BH: He has collected up to 5,000 dollars. I think that was his high year. He wouldn't do that all the time. I think 5,000 dollars is--. At a nickel a can, is what? A million dollars? A million cans? Something like that--. A lot of cans--. A million of anything is a lot.
MK: So you've been a member since--?
MK: That makes it--
BH: 37 years.
MK: --37 years.
MK: So what sorts of changes have you seen come over the club? And are those changes in line with other changes that were going on in the community--? In the town?
BH: Oh definitely. I think the biggest change was--. It used to be a very male chauvinist club. And many people did not want to have any women in the club, because they felt, this is a way to get away from women, to be on their own. And it got to the point where a woman wanted to join the club. And there was quite a to-do about this. I guess she filled out an application, and the application was destroyed. So. Never even brought it to a vote or anything. So she decided that she would fight this. And some of us felt that it was wrong not to allow women in the club. But others felt, "Let's fight it." So, they fought this for quite a while, spent a lot of money on it. The woman won the case. And she never showed up at the club.
CK: Won the case, what?
BH: The woman won the case. She was eligible to join, but she never joined and never showed up at the club since. It was just--. She was trying to prove a point. So since then, when it was deemed that we would have women in the club, some of the members' wives immediately joined. And we had a woman president for quite a few years. And we have other members' wives. Even women that are not related to members join the club. So things are quite different in that respect. I've seem some other changes in the club like--
MK: Well, how did this play out--. First of all, how did this play out in your family?
BH: My wife thinks it is wonderful that I belong to the club and I have a place to go. But she has no interest in the club. Her only regret is that there is not a similar type of thing for women. So. She attends some of the functions, you know, dinners that we have and so on. But she doesn't participate in any of the activities such as, you know, any shooting activities. There is a a lot of social activity at the club and, you know, we have meals and everything. We don't have a meal every month, but we have meals a lot of times. And, you know, we have the traditional meals, like we have a game dinner in February. That's where the people that harvest game will donate the game. We'll cook the game. And that's a big fundraiser for the club. Most of the game is venison done by the archery people at the club. So we consider that to be a fundraising effort by the archery people. We have a St. Patrick's day dinner in March, corn beef and cabbage, and that's very well attended. We've recently started a - an Italian night, where we have an Italian dinner. We've had an Octoberfest last October. We're planning one for this October. We traditionally have a roast beef dinner in November. And we have a installation dinner in December when we install the new officers for the new year. So we're pretty active in that regard. And then sometimes we'll have a spontaneous dinner, like a fish fry or whatever. It's--. You know, whatever people want to do, that's the way it works.
Other changes I could call out is that Art Stetson and I sometimes would be sitting there in the afternoon, sometimes having a beer looking out of the window at the pond, and--. Actually there were two windows together. And we kept saying, wouldn't it be nice if we had a deck out there, put a slider unit in. You could just go out there on the deck. So we discussed that for quite a while, many, many months. And I decided that, let's go through with this. I'll figure out what it's going to cost, and we'll present it. And if the members want it, then we'll do it. Some of the members, believe it or not, didn't want to do it. And we had one member that refused to even step on it, because he was opposed to it. I don't know what his feeling was on why he did that. But, I think it was a great asset to the club to add this deck. And when we rent the club out, many, many people say that they really enjoy the deck.
I've seen other things. Like we used to have small booths throughout the area where we would sell hot dogs, and hamburgers, and a beer booth and so on for our Fourth of July event. But those buildings deteriorated, so they're all gone now. And we've since built a large storage shed, and that's where we keep all the archery targets and things like that, maintenance equipment, and so on. So there have been changes like that. Like I said, we used to have the Fourth of July outing. We had a row of like seven or eight fireplaces where we'd boil the lobsters, and clams, and so on, but that's not used anymore. We have a very large chicken barbecue pit, and we don't use that anymore, because now most of our events seem to be in the evening and indoors, because you try putting one on and a rainstorm and whatever, and you pretty much decide you are better off if you're inside. So those are some of the changes I can see.
MK: What changes were going on during that period in the town and the area generally?
BH: Well I don't know that there are any changes that are going on that would affect the club as such. Of course the town--. The town is growing. There are more people in town, and different aspects of the town have probably changed. But I don't think that has had much affect on the club.
MK: What about hunting though? What about the whole idea of hunting, and fishing, and--
MK: --the Great Outdoors?
BH: Yeah, as I indicated earlier, I wasn't really much into the hunting scene. My only hunting experience was I would go to Maine at the game preserve. So people do say that the areas used to be populated by pheasant and other game birds and such. But with the increase in population and the areas being developed, well the game just has not been around. There is still hunting on the club property. We do deer hunting on the club property, and they harvest some deer. But most of the deer people get is off the property, part of the reason being that there's no hunting in Massachusetts on Sundays. So on Sundays they'll go to adjoining, neighboring states where there is hunting allowed. And if they're going to be up there for the Sunday, sometimes they'll go for the whole weekend. So there's not that hunting done in Massachusetts that there might be.
MK: Do you happen to know the actual mission of the Rod and Gun Club? Is there a stated mission?
BH: There is a stated mission. It's very clearly stated in the bylaws.I can't quote it, chapter and verse. But basically it is to promote hunting and the wildlife, to propagate the game. We used to raise pheasants on the club property for hunting. We don't get into that anymore. That's probably a change that I could have included. And it's just to promote the whole sport, the fishing and hunting.
MK: So does the club find itself in line with, or making alliances with other efforts to preserve open spaces and--?
BH: Sure we do. Of course, anytime anyone buys any kind of hunting or fishing license or any sporting equipment, there's a--. Part of that money goes toward the preservation of hunting and fishing, buying of open land and so on. The club also supports two organizations, one being the National Rifle Association, and the second one being a local club, organization called GOAL. That's Gun Owners Action League. And that's an organization that addresses the laws, the proposed laws and so on within the state. And it's a recourse we have if we find that we have a problem in obtaining a license or anything of that nature. We can make an appeal with GOAL, and they help a lot of people in that effort.
MK: Do members of the Rod and Gun Club share the view of the NRA that the government is making moves on gun rights or gun owning rights?
BH: I wouldn't say that we're a hundred percent, you know, activists for the 2nd amendment but by and large the membership is in full support of the 2nd amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. We do have some people that I think would question that. But I question why they are a member of the club. But they're probably there for the social end of it. That's--. That's the way I think that most of the club feels.
CK: But is there a sense that these rights are being endangered?
BH: Oh, I think that there is. Some people of course are more vocal about this, and they're more active about what they perceive to be, you know, actions against gun owners. And some others are kind of laid back and say, "Yeah, it's probably going to happen, you know, but what can you do?"
CK: What's going to happen?
BH: Some people feel that their rights will be removed or lessened. Like there's the recent UN activity of trying to control member nations on their small arms policies. And of course I think that goes a long--. Well beyond gun clubs because--. Of course the NRA is into a lot of other-than-sporting activities. They're looked at it strictly, you know, as the right to bear arms, and not specifically for sporting, but for self-defense, or for whatever. So, I think there is a feeling by some, that this UN activity, if it goes through, would certainly affect the 2nd amendment.
MK: So then, what would the response be, do you think?
BH: I don't know. It's hard to tell how active somebody would be. If they're provoked they might be very active. If not, they might just be very passive. You know, it's like asking, what would the response be nationwide, of an action by the United Nations to control small arms in the entire country. I--. I can't conceive that it would ever be accepted, but it's possible.
CK: I suppose there are other organizations beyond the Rod and Gun Club that are very concerned about bearing arms and bear them and definitely have more of a political agenda.
BH: Sure, absolutely. Absolutely. I don't belong to any of these organizations, although I know they exist. So, there definitely are other organizations out there.
MK: What about alliances with environmental groups trying to preserve open spaces?
BH: Yeah, I would say that we are engaged in that in this respect. Nationwide there is a program that's managed in the State of Massachusetts by the Fish and Wildlife, as far as what they call a hunter education course. And this is a requirement that you successfully complete a hunter education course before you can obtain a hunting license. So in recognition of this and the fact that there are many, many people that wish to get hunting licenses and find it difficult to find a place where they can take this course, the club sponsors two courses a year. And what we've done--. And I'm one of the people involved in this--. Is we have about 15 or 20 people that have become certified hunter education instructors.
And it makes it easy, because we have so many people to put this event on. The state requires a certain minimum number of hours. And the way we conduct it at the club is, we have a meeting on a Tuesday night, a Thursday night, all day Saturday, and the following Monday night. And the attendees must attend the complete course. And they have to attain a grade of at least 80 percent on the test in order to complete and get certified. So, we know there's a need for this course and all, so the club does have the course twice a year. Would like to do it more frequently, but people's time is very valuable, and it's quite an effort to put this on.
MK: Can you talk more about the content of that course?
BH: Well, yeah. It is what it is. It's hunter education. It's involved with fire arm safety, the harvesting of game, you know, shot placement in order to get an effective kill. There are no live shots in this course. There's no live ammunition involved. We do have dummy ammunition. We have guns in order to instruct people on handling of guns. And the course consists of videos, and printed material, and a lot of interaction, discussion. And we have workshops where they'll get an introduction to map and compass for orienteering in the woods when they are hunting. Like I said, the proper shot placement on the game, so that you can get an effective kill, instead of wounding an animal and having the animal get away. It teaches about the ethics of hunting. It teaches the--.
MK: Ethics of hunting?
BH: Yes. That is harvesting game in a fair chase. It's not--. Like you don't put out bait and have an animal come, and you shoot the animal. This is allowed sometimes, but--. Specifically in bear hunting. But that's the type of thing that I think is considered unethical. Some people do it, and they say it's--. "It's legal so we're going to do it."
MK: So ethics in this case are considerations that go beyond the laws or regulations. It's--.
BH: Sure. Sure. What you feel is the right thing to do. It gets into discussion--. They set up a hypothetical situation. Like if you're hunting with somebody, and he exceeds the limit on what he's allowed to take. And he says, "Well you didn't get all of yours, so can say that you got some of these." That is not an ethical way to hunt. So they present--. In the course, they present situations that are similar to that, and question the students as to their reaction on how they would react in that situation, why they would and why they shouldn't, and so on. You get into the laws of the state, somewhat, the hunting and fishing laws. There's a lot of material that's available that's handed out, so that they can research this on their own, beyond what's given in the class.
CK: What's your piece of it?
BH: I get into doing some of the busy work, in that what I've been there doing is I check the people in and out when they attend the course for the attendance record. And we have homework assignments, so I review the homework at the following session on what it is. And, I just help wherever I can. I kind of float around, and if it looks like an area--. Like in the shot gun handling. if the instructor could use some help, why I'll just stop and help him. What we do in that course is, because it's an all day session on Saturday, the club will typically provide a meal at cost for the attendees. And it's a simple meal, you know, hamburgers and hotdogs, whatever. But we do have a working lunch so that we work straight though the whole day Saturday. So by doing this, we allow the people to continue there and work through lunch.
One interesting aspect of this whole hunter education program is, people find it difficult to find a location to take the course. So what they do is they book more than one location, because they fill up fast. And as a result, the Fish and Game will shut off the number at a particular location. Like this last one, I think we had 56 people registered and 21 people showed up. So, and this seems to be typical. Of course there's all sorts of suggestions made, like, have them pay when they register and refund the payment if they show up. But the state doesn't want to get involved in any money handling. So it's difficult, because we could handle 50 people. And there are people that would like to take the course that have been shut out and others that, you know, that see somebody's name on the list and say "Oh he took the course two weeks ago at another location." So, that's one of the downsides. I don't know how it can be fixed, but it should be fixed.
MK: Yeah, a deposit would make sense.
CK: So there's not a fee for the course?
BH: No, this is a free course, provided by the state. A lot of people aren't aware of the fact that this course also qualifies--. It meets the requirements for instruction for application for a fire arms license, either a license to carry, or a firearms identification card. The state requires that you get firearms instruction, prior to getting either the certificates, and this is one way they can do it. Another way is there are individuals that are certified as instructors. And they do this either for a living or as a side job, and they charge a fee for this. So, this is just another way that people can do that.
MK: Can you talk a little bit about the kind of man your son has become and the role of the club in shaping the man he is today?
BH: Of course he's a wonderful person, because he is my son. He does not actively participate in the club any longer because he's living out of state. He lives in Connecticut. He's married. He's very active. He has a fortunate situation where his father-in-law has three houses on Chittenden Reservoir in Chittenden, Vermont. And one of them is for my son's wife, and the other is for her sister. And the father-in-law lives in the third house. So, my son and his wife are up there virtually every weekend, summer and winter, because if they're not fishing they're skiing. So he's not active at all in the club. He does still do some shooting. Occasionally we'll get together and do some shooting, but not as much as we both would like.
MK: How did the club shape him growing up?
BH: Well, like I say, he hasn't been that active. He participated as a kid in the kids' fishing derby, and that I think exposed him to fishing. And he fishes now as much as he can. So I think that it introduced him to fishing, and he has found that that's a wonderful outlet. He goes to work early in the morning and fishes in the afternoon most everyday during the week. Unfortunately his wife works out of state, so they get together on weekends. So, to pass the time during the week my son goes fishing. And then on the weekends he goes fishing. So maybe it was a mistake introducing him to fishing!
But we have many members though--. Speaking of fishing--. We have many members that when they apply for membership we ask them, you know, "How did they become aware of the club." And they said, "I was up here for the kid's fishing derby," you know, when they were like twelve years old. So we have introduced a lot of people into the fishing and shooting and archery and so on.
CK: Why do you think these young men want to join the club?
BH: Why do I think they're willing--.
CK: Want to?
BH: Want to? Oh, of course it varies. Some of them want a place to raise their family with the outdoor experience of--. Typically, you know, if we get someone that joins with very young children they get started in archery. And then they might get into some shooting in the indoor range. And then eventually, they get into some, you know, shotgun shooting.And some of them join for the social aspect and, whatever. There's many reasons that they join.
MK: Beautiful place.
BH: It is. We've had people say that it's the best club they've been to. And being a member of a club you usually travel a lot, in that if you're active and you shoot on a team, we compete against other clubs, so you go to the other club, you know, for this competition. So you get exposed to a lot of clubs in the area. And many, many times people will say that they like our club the best. We do have a log cabin as a club house and--. Some places, the shooting range is--. In the late afternoon you're shooting directly into the sun, which is very difficult and so on. We have what was called one of the best archery courses in the state. And they have, I believe it's 38 targets located throughout the acreage. And you could picture it as a golf course, where you shoot at the target. And you go retrieve the arrows and shoot at another target. And you just keep walking around. We have what they call a 3D day archery shoot where they use these foam life-size three dimensional targets, as opposed to a circle or target on a stand. And people come from miles to shoot at our club and at other clubs in these different events. So we're very active in that respect.
MK: I'm guessing that nobody has ever been hurt. It sounds like all these people moving around through 40 acres, shooting different targets, there must be some safety issues, aren't there?
BH: Oh, there definitely are safety issues. I mean, we're very conscious of safety. And I can't recall any firearm injury, or any archery injury, or any hunting injury. There may have been some, but I'm not aware of them.
MK: That's quite a record.
BH: It is. We've had some accidental discharges, you know, where somebody would maybe discharge a firearm unintentionally. But with the proper safety instruction, they have muzzle control. And that means that you always have the gun pointed in a safe direction. You never point the gun at something you don't intend to shoot. So that's--. That has paid off.
CK: You were saying that some people come for probably various reasons, including social. I'm just trying to imagine whether there's really a shared point of view, social or political, people feel like they're around like-minded people?
BH: Oh, I think there's a lot of that. I think that the political aspect is very minimal. We don't really get involved in actively participating in politics. We do rent the hall out. Sometimes, somebody may rent the hall for a political activity, a fundraiser, or whatever. But, the club does not actively get involved in that. And, so. And you know there haven't been any local laws that the club has had to take a side on and support or oppose. So we just have not been politically involved.
MK: Tell me about club rituals. Are there any oaths of allegiance to the club, or any jokes that the club members like to tell? I gather that cribbage might be a ritual of the club.
BH: Oh yeah, we have a cribbage tournament. And we play 90 games for our tournament. They play nine games a night for 10 nights. And they allow a couple of extra nights for makeups. And then they typically will have a banquet where they'll either prepare a meal at the club, or more frequently they'll go to a restaurant to eat. It has gotten now where we have a rivalry with the other club in town, the Musketaquid Club, with cribbage. And there's a trophy that keeps getting passed back and forth and that gets engraved with the names of the players on it. And I don't know the record, but the Concord club I th--. Is way ahead of the Musketaquid club as far as number of times winning the--. If you interview Marty Powers you can probably get his side of the story, because he's with the Musketaquid club.
MK: Okay. That would be interesting.
CK: So no sort of oath? Like Izaac Walton League has an oath, or anything along--.
BH: Oh no, none of that. None of that.
CK: Do you affiliate with anything like Izaac Walton League?
BH: No, no.
CK: I just can't help but wonder what it was like going through that transition from being a men's club to a men's and women's, and girls'--.
BH: Well, I think that there were a lot of people that were not opposed to it, so it made the transition very easy. It's just, you know, something that I guess they never thought of in the beginning, because back like in the pre '50s they were--. It was very common to have segregated clubs and--. And it's just, the membership evolved with the times.
CK: Seems like it would have some restrictive aspects as to jokes that people were used to telling, or--. It's change--.
BH: Well, it probably does, but I think that there's--. There's probably some jokes out there that they maybe would not tell if they really thought about, you know, mixed company, but--. That happens, yeah.
MK: We also have--. David Wood joined us about 20 minutes ago. David, can you think of any areas you'd like to hear Bruce talk about?
CK: Or chime in yourself?
David Wood: Yeah, well, you know it's--. What an articulate account. It has been really fun to hear. But, you know, one of the--. I'm impressed today, as I was yesterday, with the fact that in my brief experience in the club, you know, you sort of think you know something about what it is. But then you keep hearing there's another aspect to it--. There's another aspect to it, and there's another aspect to it, and another aspect to it. And, you know, even Henry yesterday was saying about certain aspects of the club, he was saying, you know, "I don't really know, I don't know if we do that or don't do that," or you know. It is because there's--. There's just a lot to it. You wouldn't think--. And I think even you said yesterday, it's like "Wow, there's a lot to this. You know, for a Rod and Gun Club, there's a lot to this." And there really is.
And the things you were saying, Bruce, about the hunter safety course, you know, you just think about how many dimensions there are to a thing like that, and it's a volunteer effort on the part of the club. It's a benefit to people who have the interest, but it's also this relationship with the state. It's like a benefit to the state because they don't have to offer it, they don't have to pay for it and so on, you know. Well, you know that's kind of interesting and an aspect of it you'd never think about. You know, that's interesting too. And that idea about that--. The transition. I certainly wasn't around when that change was made, but, my overall impression is certainly that it has been a family place from the beginning, in the sense that so many of the fundraisers, the--. You know, whether it is the show at the armory or especially the picnics at the club. They're family events. So there's always women and kids there, you know. So these guys didn't have to learn how to behave indoors they already knew. So that has--. You know, but that's--. Again that's something you wouldn't necessarily think of, but certainly in the context of the time, would've been a natural--. You know, natural transition. And the--. I don't know. Those were, you know, just some of the things--. And the ethics--. I was interested too to hear about the ethics, the ethics of hunting.
And I would--. One of the things--. Henry didn't mention the writer yesterday, but there is a writer named Robert Rourke. You ever run into Robert Rourke? He was from North Carolina. Wilmington, North Carolina. And he grew up there in the '30's. And was just part of, you know, this coastal hunting culture that was you know, birds, and fishing--. Ocean fishing and fishing in the river. It was the Cape Fear River. So he's--. He's always writing about--. He was writing in the 1950's. He ended up being a big game hunter in Africa. So he was writing in the 1950s. And he's always writing about the ethics of hunting, and he's always writing about the conservation ethic. Doesn't necessarily use the term conservation if I recall. But again, if it's 1957 that wouldn't have been the current jargon. But that's exactly what he is talking about. You never shoot out a whole covey, because you want to come back there next year and have some more sport next year, you know?
And he also talked about --. You might plant a field to grain, because you want the grouse to come there. You plant them to peas, because you want the grouse there. And then, when it's in season. And you're always aware of the season, the legal seasons. You're always aware of the season because you are out there anyway. But, you know, keeping all of those things in mind. And it's just all part of the operation. And it just ends up all being this really complicated activity that you wouldn't necessarily think of offhand. But for a club like that to survive it has taken all of this effort that doesn't really look like effort, because everybody's--. They just want to do it. That's what they want. And it is a beautiful, it's a beautiful site, just a great place to be.
BH: Like I mentioned earlier, the game dinner that we have in February. These hunters, they of course freeze the meat until they find the time to use it or whatever. And early in February they have what they call a grinding party, where we now have quite a bit of equipment for making sausage. And people will bring in their venison. And of course everybody has the old family recipe on what sausage. Some of these recipes come from Europe and so on. And we have a grind--.
DW: What's your favorite, just while we're right there.
BH: Well maybe favorite is the next one, because they're all good. Some are just better than others. That's all. So, they have this grinding party, and it actually consists of a couple days. The first day they'll do the grinding, and then the next day they'll do the cooking. They smoke a lot of it, so that it gets the flavor and that type of cooking. Last year they did over 600 pounds of sausage. So a lot of these people donate meat to the game dinner. So we have a lot of sausage meat, and we have roasts, and all kinds of different ways. And it's almost like competitive to see who can have the best recipe for a thing. Like we've even had like chili cook offs, and we've had prizes and judges to judge which chili is the best. And we award some prizes, probably another pot of chili or something, but just something to keep it going. So the game dinner is always a sell out. We have a seating capacity at the club, and we actually are allowed more than we can accommodate, legally. The capacity of the hall as it is legally listed is more than we can actually fit in there. So.
MK: What is it now?
BH: I think that we cut off at 140 last year, but they have had two sessions and so on. But it gets to be a real issue, because the people that come to the first session won't leave in time for the second session to sit down and eat, and so on. And it is just so much work that they say that feeding 140 people is enough, because it takes them, you know, a long time to prepare all this food. (1:01:21)
MK: A week?
BH: Oh more than that, it's all month that they're doing stuff. Some of the stuff they prepare, you know, and freeze it for the end of the month. Others, like I say, they'll smoke it, and so on. In fact, I was up there a couple of weeks ago, and it was the early goose season. And by the time I got to the club on Saturday morning, these hunters had all finished their hunting. And they had harvested one goose. So they breasted the goose. And one guy was taking the breasts home. And he was going to smoke them, and he makes a pate out of the smoked goose meat. And he brings that up on, typically on Thursday night when--. There's a big gathering there every Thursday. And we have all kinds of game.
MK: Another little complexity in there, huh?
MK: Food preparation.
CK: Will you talk more about some of those great old characters there in the kitchen?
BH: Oh yeah. That goes back a ways when Bing Bartolomeo was running the kitchen. And he had a crew of like Skippy Hannah and Walter Wellman and Walter Stegerstrom. And you didn't go in the kitchen. You weren't allowed in the kitchen, because you were just in the way. So, they would prepare the meals. They used to go into the Boston Market and buy a big strip of beef. And sometimes they'd buy extra pieces for people that would order the meat, you know. They'd say, "If you're going to the market, you know, get some extra meat for me." And I can remember Walter Stegerstrom taking a yard stick, and measuring down the sick, and precisely cutting, so that each piece was the same when they got it out, because they split the money up equally. And they did a lot of big meals that way, the crew. The available help is always up and down. You know you get some people that like to cook, and then you get others--. Other times when you can't get anyone to cook, so the situation with meals kind of fluctuates from year to year. We're currently on a pretty good roll.
CK: It looks like you have a--. Kind of an interesting class variety in your group.
BH: Well I remember, I don't know just how long ago it was but, of course Bing Bartolomeo has been gone for quite a while. And the spaghetti lunches stopped. But then we decided to revive them again, and we would have them on the second and fourth Tuesdays, because we have a fellow that works at Idlywilde Farm, Charlie Anderson. And his weekend is Monday and Tuesday. So he said he would go up on Tuesday for lunch to tend bar. But he couldn't make it on Wednesdays, so we changed from Wednesdays to Tuesdays. And we had quite a crew working there it was myself, Marge Stetson, Art Stetson, Peter Sowkow and Joe LaPosata. And what we'd do is occasionally make a shopping trip. And then we'd get together and precook the meatballs and the sausage, make the meatballs up, and precook the sausage. And we'd get ready for the Wednesday lunches. And it was probably the best meal in town. It was four dollars, more than you should eat. The salad actually cost more than the rest of the meal. And we had a endless salad. It was just a great time. And the beer sales were pretty good too. But, people would come for Wednesday lunch and go back to work. It was interesting, because we didn't require reservations, so we never knew how many people would be coming. And sometimes we'd have four people show up, sometimes forty. So it was pretty tough to handle from that aspect.
But I recall there was a--. There was a group that used to come. I don't know what company they were from. And when one of those fellows retired, the company said they wanted to take him out to lunch. And where did he want to go? He says "I want to go the the Concord Rod and Gun Club spaghetti lunch." So that was one of the times when we had 40 people there.
MK: What are some other areas of the club life that you would like to talk about that I haven't asked you about?
BH: Well, I don't know. It's kind of an informal group. So you know, what I like about it is that the club is what the members want it to be. It's--. You know, if they want to do something, they do it. Like we have people that get involved with youth activities. Kim Sullivan, the current vice president, is very active with the youth activities. She has an Easter egg hunt, and she shreds up a lot of paper and hides the eggs in the shredded paper and all this kind of stuff. We have a kids' Christmas party where the parents bring gifts for their kids, and then they hand them out. We have quite a time finding somebody that's willing to be Santa Claus, but somehow somebody always does that.
We have youth activities like a youth pheasant hunt in the fall where we go through, I don't know, four or five sessions introducing these youngsters to hunting and some class room instruction, some practical stuff out on our track ranges, as far as introducing them to shotgun shooting. And we have members that volunteer to go on the hunt as mentors. And some people come ,and they bring their dogs, so that the dogs can retrieve the pheasant. And the state provides the birds. And this is a special youth hunt before the official season opens. So the state stocks the birds, and the youth hunt goes on. There's a similar thing with the wild turkey hunting. And not being a turkey hunter I don't know exactly how that works, but I understand it's very similar where kids get introduced to turkey hunting. And hunting, it's the whole aspect--. Again it's a lot like hunter ed. They get into the fire arm safety course. They get into ethical hunting. They get into cleaning the birds, and cooking. So it's a good introduction.
CK: Seems like such a breath of fresh air from small town life.
BH: Yeah it is, really. It's---. Some people say it is the best kept secret in town, because we don't advertise we don't go looking for membership as such. We have a website, and a lot of people find us on our website. And it's just that people come out of the woodwork and join the club. We have an ever increasing membership. We lose a few people every year with attrition, but we always seems to gain more than we lose. So we're on a constant steady rise.
MK: Your original sponsor, Jim Powers, Senior, you said he was a very powerful man, and he was instrumental in getting the club established to where it is today.
MK: I heard a suggestion somewhere along the line from somebody that he was also an entertainer? Did you ever hear him perform any music, or--?
BH: No, I don't know that he was an entertainer as such, but he used to be the auctioneer when we would have an auction at these Fourth of July outings. And he was quite a colorful character; he had a lot of stories to tell. And he had a lot of responsibilities in life. He had a retarded child. And he used to bring him up to the club all the time, and everyone knew him. His biggest problem was he like to drink soda and everyone, of course, would be buying him soda. So Jim would try to hold back on that, but he'd usually get six or eight sodas down in an evening. And I remember specifically one time at one of the dinners, of course we had a raffle. And we'd get a pot from the kitchen. And we'd need somebody to pull the winning ticket out. So Johnny, Jim's son, was elected to pull the ticket out. So he pulled the ticket out, and without looking he said, "Jim Powers." So there was a lot of fun stuff like that that went on at the club.
CK: What happened then!
BH: They had another drawing!
CK: With another drawer!
BH: We used to have turkey raffles. We decided one year it would be a good idea to have a live turkey up there for the raffle. Of course the turkey got loose. It was flying around in the hall. Finally they got it and put in the box.
MK: I've seen signs driving through the country over the years, you know, a handmade sign nailed up on a tree that say, "turkey shoot this Sunday."
BH: Oh yeah.
MK: What is a turkey shoot?
BH: Well, a turkey shoot, I don't think it has any strict rules. But the ones I'm familiar with is, they have a bunch of turkeys, frozen turkeys, and they'll have an event like, let's say trap shooting. And you might pay five dollars to enter. And you shoot maybe ten rounds. And whoever, you know, gets the highest score gets that turkey. Now if there's a tie, normally they'll have a shoot off. Typically in trap shooting, you'll shoot at a beginning distance of 16 yards. And as you get more proficient you'll work back to a handicapped yardage of 27 yards. Beyond the 27 yards is where they have this turkey pad. And you have to stand on that turkey pad to shoot the targets going out. And nobody shoots that kind of distance, to begin with. And the shotgun is not patterned to be effective at that range. So it gets to be quite an effort to break targets at that distance. But, that's the way that I know that they end off, shoot off ties in a turkey shoot.
MK: And you stand on the turkey pad?
BH: It's just what they call that station for shooting. It's typically a cement pad. Like out at the North Leominster club they have a cement pad, and it's the shape of a turkey. And it's used specifically for the turkey shoot, you know breaking ties.
MK: 27 yards.
BH: Well, it's beyond the 27 yard. It might be 30, 32 yards. And that's the distance to the trap house, where the target comes out. So the target goes beyond there by the time you shoot it. But typically, if you're shooting at the 16 yard distance, you're shooting at the target, which is 40 yards away from you, because it's 16 yards to the house where the bird is thrown out. And then the rest of the yardage is the time it takes you to shoot the target. So, it's quite a distance.
MK: And you said the shotgun wasn't patterned?
BH: Yeah. By that what I mean is shot uns nowadays have what they call removable choke tubes. And, just like the faucet on a hose, if you have a nozzle, you can adjust the nozzle, so that the spray goes very wide, or it's concentrated and it goes a very long distance. With shotguns, it's the same thing. You put in a different size cylinder in the end of the barrel, which constricts the size, and it patterns the shot as it comes out, because typically with shotgun it's many BBs, as opposed to a single shot projectile. So, for trap shooting you like to pattern the gun for like 40 yards, because that's the distance that you expect to be breaking the bird. So you want to concentrate as many of these BBs or pellets as you can into like a 30 inch diameter circle, rather than have it spread out too quickly and have holes in that pattern, where you could be on target, but there would be a hole in the pattern, so you wouldn't break the bird. So.
And for different sports like skeet shooting, you're shooting much closer to the target, because the target, instead of going away from you, it's going more across, in front of you. So you're shooting a much closer shoot, so you have more of a wide open choke, so that you'd be patterning it for maybe a distance of 15 or 20 yards instead of 40.
MK: Did you say barrel tubes?
BH: Yeah, these are a small cylinders that go in the muzzle end of the barrel, so that it constricts the exit size for the shot when it's coming out.
MK: Well this has been absolutely fascinating. Who would've thought there was so much to say about a Rod and Gun Club?
BH: Of course they use these different choke tubes for hunting also, depending on the distance you expect to shoot the target. Like for pheasant hunting it's a lot closer than for goose hunting. So pheasant hunting you would have a more open choke, where goose hunting you'd want to concentrate it so that the shot will remain closer together over the long distance.
MK: Thank you very much for coming today.
BH: Sure. It has been a pleasure. I enjoyed it.
CK: David, is there more you want to share about how you got involved with this club or why you stay. Or any other comments?
DW: Well, I got involved I think in the typical way like you were saying. I didn't go there as a kid for the fishing derby, but when my son was, I don't know, 10 or something, I went there with the Cub Scouts.
DW: So it's that youth outreach, youth education thing, reaches whole families.
BH: I explained, I think probably before you got here, that I got into the club because my son got introduced to shooting at Boy Scout camp. And he was looking for a place to shoot. So I found the club. That's how we got into it.
DW: Yeah, simple as that.
DW: And you know you heard those reports from the kids who did the conservation camp this past summer.
BH: Oh yeah.
DW: And one of them was more articulate than the other. But they were just glowing, you know, just, like, it was more fun than, you know, that it was just--.
END OF DISC ONE
BEGINNING OF DISC TWO
David Wood: --one of those experiences that is going to last with them. So, you know, that was kind of it. We went up there and got to try, you know, drawing a bow, and one thing and another. And all you have to do is see that place! So. But, it was really--. It has been interesting, you know, to hear.
Bruce Harvey: This conservation camp that Dave mentioned is a summer camp. It's a two week session, that boys and girls go to that are--. I think they're like from maybe, something around the range of 15 to 18, or maybe even younger than 18. And they get introduced to the outdoors with all of these different activities. And a lot of kids get exposed to hunting and fishing and all through this conservation camp. And the club sponsors at least two people, two kids, every year. And if we have more kids apply than two, somehow we usually find a way to accommodate them. This is one of the things that The Can Committee helps to share the cost with. And the kids go. They always have a wonderful time. I don't know anyone that has had a bad experience. It's a great introduction for them.
Michael Kline: Cool. Wonderful.
END OF DISC 2