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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-19-2014, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Default Following Otis's Lead

Otis posted a neat story yesterday and it seemed that those that read it enjoyed doing so. I would like to post one of my favorite storys too. To me the point in the story, one way or another has to do with what this forum is about and that is our attempt to do the best that we can with our tools and skills. Hope that you enjoy it.

Jerry B.

Back in the nineteenth century there was a well known rifle
barrel maker by the name of Harry Pope. At that time
any serious target shooter would not consider using a
barrel that was not made by Pope. Pope lived in New
York City and worked out of a small shop by himself.

As the story goes, there was a young man that lived
many miles away from Pope's shop. I don't know the young
man's name, but he aspired to be a gun smith and barrel
maker and decided one day to move to New York and work
with Harry.

So he gathered his meager belongings and moved to the
City. He arrived on a Sunday afternoon, and located
Harry's shop which was of course closed at the time. He
found an apartment in which to live, got settled in and
arrived at Pope's shop early Monday morning and introduced

He told Harry why he had moved to New York and that he
wanted to apprentice under the old man. But Pope explained
to him that he was in no way prepared or interested in
having an apprentice.

Of course the young man was disappointed and told Harry that
the reason that he wanted to work with Harry was to learn
lhis secret as to why his rifle barrels were so superior
to any others. Harry still was adement that he was not
interested in what the young man wanted to do.

So, since the young man had decided to just stay in the City anyway,
each day he would show up at Pope's shop and just hand around.
In time Pope warmed up to the young man but did not change his
mind about taking on an apprentice.

Finally one day Pope asked the boy if he knew how to "file" and
the boy told Harry that he could, and so Harry asked him to make a
part for him for a gun that he was working on for one of his
customers, The boy did the job and did it well, not much was
said, Pope used the part and went on with his business.

Then one day a well known competitor arrived at the shop and
placed an order for a new rifle barrel for a match that was coming
in several weeks later.

Then, a few days later Pope did not show up at his shop and the
boy did some checking and learned that Harry was very ill and
he remained so for a few weeks. Time for the delivery of the
customer's new barrel was starting to run out.

The boy began to worry about the customer's new barrel and finally
one day while Harry was still home sick in bed, hw took the blank
from the rack and put it in the machine thar is used to cut the
rifling in the bore. He spent a lot of time with the set up and
re-checked the set up several times until he was certain that the
set up was a good as he could get it. It had taken more time
than it should have but he wanted it to be perfect. Finally it was
time to make the first cut which he did with the most care that he
could take, he took his time, almost holding his breath in his
attempt to it right. After completing the first cut he sat down
and comptemplated what he had done until he got the courage to
to make the next cut. This went on for a coupld of days, the
boy took his time and kept checking his work, and one day the all of
grooves were cut.

The boy cleaned the barrel up and put it back in the rack. A few days
Pope was well enough to get back to work and in another day or so
the customer arrived to pick up his new barrel, but the day prior
to the customer's arrival, Harry had taken the barrel out of the rack
and had inspected the boy's work visually without saying anything.

He then took the barrel in the back room where he had a test range set
up and test gun that he put the barrel into and began to shoot the
test gun with the new barrel installed. The boy remained out in the
front of the shot and listened to Harry's test shooting. During this
time the boy was very nerveous wondering what Harry was going to say
and what was going to happen, after all the customer was due to pick
the barrel up any day.

After some time, Harry came out of the back room and put the barrel
back in the rack with out saying anything. The next day the customer
came in to get the barrel, Harry gave it to him with no comment other
than to wish him well at the up coming match.

Finally Harry began to talk to the young man, and in the conversation he
told the boy, you asked about my secret and I told you that there is no
secret, it's just a matter of my doing the very best work that I can
possibly do with every step in the process, that's all I do and you have
appartently followed that line of thinking and so, if there is a secret,
you found it on your own. The barrel work was done as well as I could
have done it, you took your time and and did your best, it's just that
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Last edited by Jerry Bowen; 10-19-2014 at 06:10 PM.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2014, 08:42 AM
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Hi Jerry, I love it. The secret of success is do your best, take your time, study alternatives and go for it. At times we study alternatives, but never take any action. Very good! Malcolm / Kentucky USA
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2014, 08:44 AM
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great story
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2014, 09:14 AM
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Very nice story Jerry. Thanks for sharing!
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2014, 09:55 AM
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Good story Jerry. As Malcolm said, that is the measure of success in life. The measure of a man shows in everything he does, whether it is building something or any other task...
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2014, 10:06 AM
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As someone who teaches I know the importance of students accomplishing things. They need at first to get something built because they may never have built anything before. They need encouragement to give every job their best effort and they do succeed. I see students all the time that think they are in my class to learn carpentry but at the end realize that they were really there to learn how solve problems and to think. I am just there to guide them in the correct direction. Great post Jerry

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2014, 11:24 AM
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Thanks for posting that story - it is definitely inspirational! While working at Fernbank Science Center in the early 1970's, I was often requested to do talks about reptiles. This was prior to our having children. Joy and I both agreed 100% that teaching should be FUN.

Students (or simply observers) pick-up on things that are FUN (a.k.a. entertaining) we taught our 3- daughters using the FUN method. First and foremost, we were blessed with 3- wonderful daughters and secondly; we spent a lot of time with them letting them learn FUN things. Joy was at home raising our girls, while I was working two and even three jobs to make ends meet - so that she could be at home raising our girls. Her job was MUCH MORE WORK THAN MINE!

I see I'm due soon for an appointment, but this paragraph reminds me of something that happened than was embarrassing to me, but extremely funny to others - I'll share it in a bit, when I return.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2014, 12:06 PM
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Great story!

Thanks for sharing.

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2014, 04:36 PM
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Great story, Jerry!

I was so intrigued that I did a web search for "rifle barrel maker" and "Harry Pope". Wow, what great information and stories about this man. A very informative article was published in American Rifleman, June 1941.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-20-2014, 06:52 PM
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Default My source of embarrassment...

Approximately 33 years ago, I was working 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to keep ends met in order that Joy could stay home and raise our children: Emily 1974, Melissa 1977 and Rebecca 1979. This event took place in about 1980 - prior to my bad fall that left me crippled for the next 14 years (another story - already told). Joy would often do her shopping on Sunday afternoons after we had gone to church and had our Sunday dinner. She would leave me "in charge" of the girls. The "me in charge" part would always begin with the best of intentions, but often I would fall asleep - on the floor in the middle of the room with girls laughing and playing around me.

On this particular day, the weather was hot and I was wearing only a pair of shorts. We played for a while and the girls were having a big time. The TV was on cartoons and I layed-down on the floor and fell asleep as so often was the case. I am a deep-sleeper and when I fall asleep, it takes something major to awaken me. Emily was the oldest and has always been a "born-leader". We all often played jokes on each other and had lots of fun with harmless pranks.

On this particular day, I had fallen asleep as my two oldest girls were rubbing my tired feet with lotion (for a small charge) Rebecca was too young to realize what was going-on. The doorbell rang! Of course, no doorbell was going to wake ME up; but my screaming girls were able to awaken me. They were, in our opinion; much too young to answer the doorbell to possible strangers - they were always to have one of their parents take care of that.

As I awakened [suddenly], I could see through the small door window that it was a man from our church - he was "our deacon". Every family was assigned a deacon who would be in charge of making certain that their families needs were met. I am a very friendly person, and nobody ever forgets me - but this time as I welcomed my deacon's visit and shook his hand, I offered for him to enter the house and have some tea or lemonade. I WILL NEVER FORGET HIS REPLY - he said, OTIS IT LOOKS LIKE I HAVE COME AT A BAD TIME and MAYBE I WILL COME BACK AT A LATER DATE. I'LL MAKE CERTAIN THAT I CALL ON THE PHONE BEFORE I VISIT YOU PERSONALLY!

I thought this was extremely odd. Why would our deacon come out to our house just to shake my hand and quickly leave and say "HE CAME AT A BAD TIME" and he "MAYBE" WILL RETURN.

When I returned to the room where the girls were, they were laughing hysterically! I asked what was so cotton-picking funny and Melissa said, "Dad - go look at yourself in the mirror!" I did as she instructed, and WOW, WHAT A SURPRISE!

UNKNOWN to ME, my about 4" long hair was completely full of sponge curlers. They had powdered my face with every kind of makeup they could procure. They liberally applied bright red lipstick. They had even put some of Joy's necklaces on me! They had painted my fingernails and toenails - ALL WHILE I WAS ASLEEP!

I will bet the deacon told that story until he died! I know I will - It is true!

Otis Guillebeau from Auburn, Georgia
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