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NTA Lifetime Membership essay contest......what's your story?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by michael p., Jun 1, 2013.

  1. Harry Whitehead

    Harry Whitehead I love to hunt Buffalos!!!!!

  2. double barrel

    double barrel New Member

    1,046
    0
    Hey Antlerman, Did I understand you right? Your granddad invented the " Louisville Slugger " baseball bat? I used those as a teenager. I had some cousins , older than me, and we would gather at the elementary school and play basball on sundays. Me, my two brothers, Randy and Bucky, my dad, my cousins, Harold, Dean and Phillip, all brothers would flip coins and choose teams and we had some awesome games. My cousin Dean, had a duffle bag full of wood bats. Some had been drilled out and poured full of melted lead. He had all kinds. Small grips on some, some with fatter handles, I've never held a wood bat that didn't feel good. Dean had the catchers equipment too, everything, in those bags. He was an honest guy. He knew all the rules and if there was a dispute about whether someone was taged out or a ball was foul, he was the umpire. We all thought he would play professiona someday, he was that good. He could play any position, like a pro. Tall, clean cut, and a good head on his shoulders.

    One day, he had the key to the gym. We played basketball. I couldn't believe how he would strip the net from thirty feet out every time. I'm thinking, "son ov a beech!!!"

    Anyway, he went into the army and became a recruiter. He enlisted my other cousin, gave him a choice of where he wanted to go. He chose Hawaii and met his wife on a buss there.

    I know if you use a bat like L.S., you have to hold the trademark up. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if you hit a fastball on that trademark it would split the bat. I remember my dad. He smoked so much he couldn't run the bases. He would have a younger kid tag up and run the bases for him after he hit. He knocked two homeruns on his 54th birthday. Smacked them slap outta the park into the treetops. I'm built like him but I was the runt of the litter. I never never hit one out of the park. I hit some homeruns but usually in the field and I had to run like hell. Lol!


    Now my grandad was a different kind of creature. He was always holden up banks. In fact, he was always robing so many people, he got the nickname, "Robin." If my grandpa had met yours, they would have been "Batman and Robin." LOL!
     

  3. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118

    12,572
    6
    No, he did not invent the Louisville Slugger. That is a company "logo" owned by Hillards and Bradsby out of Louisville, Ky.
    What Grandad did was he contracted with H&B. In the early years bat squares, as they were called, were cut into 2 3/4 squares, by 42" long and shipped by rail to Louisville where they were turned, branded, and finished there. Later on they were shipped by truck. Originally they were shipped by a team of mules and a buckboard wagon and cut using crosscut saws and hewing axes, and they were made out of hickory before ash became the preferred wood... Then in the later years, Grandad had a satellite factory of his own. His brand was called, Diamond Special. It became a two fold operation. He still provided "blanks" for H & B, and also turned and finished his brand. If anyone out there has a Diamond Special branded bat around, I sure would be interested in buying it. In the late 70's or early 80's a start up company came along named "WORTH" out of Tullahoma Tn. They bought my Grandad's factory and started producing the Worth brand. Up until this time they were the #1 producers of baseballs. It was the Worth Company that invented the aluminum bat and phased out the wooden bats in all play except the majors. Those bats today are still produced by H&B and is a Specialty item where players specifications are custom fitted. Grandad's life story is an essay of it's own. Thanks for asking.

    Odds are good that if you ever held a wooden bat in your hands, my Grandad had it in his hands first. He was the largest supplier of blanks in the world, and kept the lathes at H & B turning. Grandad started producing blanks in 1918 with his father, and as stated, his blanks carried the Louisville Slugger logo on them which was H&B's signature series for many years.
     
  4. dablaw

    dablaw Member

    I decided to go ahead and post my story tonight at 10 till midnight taxi net time..I know it doesnt count, but I hope a few will listen to what I have took a few hours to type...This is just the first couple of alone hours I have found in the last few weeks trying to take care of Mom..Hope you all enjoy my story..It's a long read but it all makes sense in the end..Thanks, David.
     
  5. dablaw

    dablaw Member

    Hey hun, you coming in? Sure, I'll be up in a minute..what time is it anyway? It's ten till midnight....Jeeze time goes by fast when you don't need it to...I shut down the power washer and went inside..
    You see I have been power washing the lumber that we removed from the 1950's tobacco barn that I'm renovating into my new taxidermy shop...This project has been a true labor of love to turn this barn into a 2160 square foot two story workable shop...If you could have seen what we started with you would be amazed at how far it has come...
    My wife Laura always joking said "Well, if you ever get a Giraffe to mount at least you can cut a Trap door and work on it from both levels"...LOL..I just smile and thought quietly to myself.."Yeah right"...
    I want to go back to the early 70's when I was in my teens..Like many of you I got the mail order Northwestern courses and graduated through the whole process and got my diploma...Gosh I wish I had that thing now..No telling where it went to..Anyways I did several ducks as that was the main thing I liked to hunt..Looking back they really weren't that hideous and they held up for many years to come...I remember before then, about the only thing even remotely taxidermy related was selling squirrel tail to Mepps Lure Co. for there roostertail spinners..I was going to conquer the world and be the squirrel tail king!!
    Funny how things go through a young boys mind...
    I remember my Dad and his best bud Bob Daniel going squirrel hunting when I was a kid..They always brought back limits of big ol river bottom fox and grey's.. And yes they would contribute to my squirrel tail domination...
    Bob (Mr. Daniel as I always called him), was a biologist at our University(Murray State University) and was such a wealth of kn oweledge to everything outdoors...Between him and my Dad I got to grow up hunting and fishing all my childhood...
    In 1976, my Mom and Dad bought an old slave house that was built during the Civil War and slavery...They had the house put on the historical register to protect it forever from demolition..I remember all the old slave tunnels that went from the salt cellar out into the yard..That's where the slaves and everyone hid during a raid..Dad had them sealed up finally for our safety...
    Me and Dad spent alot of time on the lake(Ky Lake) as the house was only a few hundred yards from the water..We had a little fiberglass boat with oars, and later an old 15 horse johnson, that we just left on the bank..That was a differnet time and you could do that without it getting stolen...Loved going out with him catching big Crappie in the area known as "Crappie Holler", which is the back portion of Blood River off Ky Lake...Many a times I would get out of school and grab the coffee can full of worms or check the minnow trap for bait and off I would go to the boat..10-12 years old and doing this all by myself somedays..Parent would go to jail for letting a kid do that now...Safety was always number one, and to this day I have NEVER had an accident on the lake or in the woods...Dad gave me one of his old shotguns to use as well..An old mossberg bolt action 20 gauge..I loved shooting that gun and would go and shoot doves, quail, rabbits, and squirrel's, just like the big boys did...lol...
    I learned alot from Dad and Mr. Daniel, and for everthing that they took the time to show me growing up, I'm eternally grateful..
    Bob was one of best gunsmith's I have ever seen and he did it mainly as a hobby, but after he retired from the University, he did it full time as well as making some of the best custom knives you will ever see...My Dad gave him his first steel for his knives, and later he had many many people wanting them so from then on R.E.D. knives were born..RED stood for Robert E. Daniel....
    Sadly Bob passed away a few years ago..Before he passed I was lucky enough to take the time to sit and talk to him..I mostly listened...Usually Bob was the one listening but when he spoke people generally would pause..
    It was good to be able to ask as well as tell him the things I needed to before he left us..He is sorely missed though...
    It was hard on my Dad to lose his bud, but he got through it and we reminisced about times gone by...
    Well just got off work again and down here powerwashing what I hope is the last stack of lumber..I know it's going to be a long night, But I have to get this done...Finally getting to the last 2 boards..."Honey. you coming in"...Jeeze this sounds familiar....Yes in a minute..I looked at my water soaked watch..Ten till midnight it said...
    As I said before My Dad was also made a big impact on my life growing up so when him and Mom split it was tough on me...Trying to understand what happened is tough on a kid that age...My whole life changed and I didn't know why...Dad moved to Florida, and I would see him through the summers some and sometimes he came here instead...One of those time he came up he planned for us to stay at the lake at a cabin and fish the whole week...I was looking forward to it..On the first afternoon when we got settled in we went by the cabin where a small pond was..The owner said there was some good fish in it so we tried for a bit...I caught a few 2-3 pound bass when I got the mother of all bass...Turns out it weighed 6.5 pounds...I asked Dad If I could keep it to have it mounted and he said yes and he would have it done for me...We didn't have a freezer in the cabin so we decided to run to town to put it in the one at my home..On the way there we got into an awful wreck..There had already been an accident in the road just a few minutes before and we came up on it, in the dark, and Dad had to swerve to miss the guy that had laid down his motorcycle in the middle of the road...We hit a concrete culvert and Dad's '76 Monte Carlo ripped in pieces..Broke my legs and busted Dads face...We did survive though, and more importantly(For Me) lol, my fish did too...I remember taking it to the taxidermist...When I walked in and saw all those mounts I felt like the doors of Heaven had opened up....Hard to put into words but I was amazed...That was my first intro to taxidermy...I think it was like 75 bucks back then to have the bass done...A few months went by and I finally got the call that it was done..I was so glad to see it all done and painted up..It was proudly displayed on my wall my whole life....
    That was good times back then...Dad started getting sick about a year and a half ago...and sadly he lost his battle with liver cancer last summer...Before he passed I was able to tell him all the things I needed to, to the point where I couldn't think of anything else..We had alot of laughs, and alot of tears over the years...My heart was always with him and I did thank him for everything in those last days...
    Can't help to think him and Bob are sitting up there together swapping stories....I need a minute here.........
    Well here I am back down at the "Shop"..I say shop now because it looks more like a shop than a barn now...Over the past year we got the whole barn resided, concrete floors poured,all the electrical, water, second floor, Central H/A, compressor,welder,and the fridges,freezers and everything about done..Going to get all the insulation done so then I can put the reclaimed boards I took out back on the walls on the inside...So tired..I was hoping so bad that I could get it done before Dad passed but sadly I didn't..Everytime I would hit a lull in enthusiasm, I would kick myself in the butt to get re-energized to finish..
    All the insulation is done now...Starting to put the reclaimed wood on...board by board it's going up...slowly but it's going..with boards only 1x4- 1x6 it's slow going..
    After about 3 weeks I finally got all the boards on and painted..I painted them back a driftwood grey then took and lightly brushed over with some white...just picking up the highlights and sawmarks..Gave it an instant weathered effect...Standing back and looking at it all...I'm satisfied...I look at the clock I hung on the wall....It's ten till midnight...
    When Dad was still alive he introduced me to two elderly people named Jim and Tabiatha(Not Tabitha) Preston..She was Chippewa Indian..He was a hillbilly from Arkansas(Like my Dad)...I always liked listening to the old ways and the old stories she would tell me..They must have been in there 80's when I was a kid...Jim loved to fish and took me and Dad out several times to his honey holes..We always caught alot of fish...He looked like the old man of the sea...lol..Mrs Preston was always making something..From Indian style blankets, to authentic native American folk artsy type stuff...But the stories of the old ways was what always intrigued me...She would have fit right in as one of the people interviewed for the old Foxfire books...That's a subject in itself, but I will say that if you have never read the Foxfire series of books your missing out...They were precluded, after there release with the book "I wish I could give my son a wild raccoon"..My Dad bought me one of those every year until the set was complete...They are all very dear to me...
    Eagles and eagle heritage was always included in Mrs. Prestons talks...She was one with nature more than anyone I have met...
    Eagles...Now that brings back another memory about Eagles weekend which is a once a year even still held today at the lake at the environmental education center...I went to my first Eagles Weekend with my Dad the year that Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom series star Jim Fowler was to host..I grew up watching him and ol' Marlin Perkins on that show for year...Why did all the good stuff come out of Omaha??? That weekend though was one of the best as far as learning about Eagles and nature in general, going out on siting tours, etc...Jim Fowler is a one of a kind...I still have my brochures and all of my literature fro that weekend including a old polaroid of My Dad, myself, and Jim Fowler...Autographed to me as well as the program he autographed...Another piece of my intricate puzzle of life..
    Everytime I see an Eagle down at the lakes I cant help to think of Mrs. Preston soaring high in the sky, and Jim Fowler and that special weekend.
    Working down at the shop again...as usual it's late and I'm beat...I have alot of words of encouragement from the great folks at Taxi-Net.."Finish that shop"..."Stay busy and get it done" were all the words I was told on Taxi-Net to get it done...So many thoughtfull words in the passing of Dad..I keep going..day after day...I wanted to be open by Sept. 1st as that's when our archery deer season opens...Not going to make it and I know this...I'm beat..It's ten till midnight, I'm going to bed....
    As you can see in my life I have had up's and down's as we all have...And the reason behind telling the story of everyone who has touched my life, Is so you can see that everyone of them steered me closer down the path I am at today...I think as I'm working on the shop now, about all of them and many MANY others that I probably am leaving out, and how they gave me a piece of who they were to make me who I AM...
    A year has gone by now and the shop is done, I have plenty of work, and have gone full time since losing my job in the medical profession...Losing that job was probably a blessing in disguise as now I have the time I need to do the things I want...It's so nice to have my own shop done the way I wanted it done..I worked under a nearby taxidermist for about 3 years prior and although I learned alot, I'm still happier being on my own..Only myself to blame now....I don't know if I'll ever be good enough to compete, but I do compete with myself on a daily basis to put out the best mounts I can..Someone said on Taxi-Net once about winning the "Green Ribbon" is the best one to win...lol..I do like going to the competitions though and went to my first show in 2011...The WTC in St. Charles, Mo....Wow!! I was flabbergasted at the level of taxidermy work and art wok in general..To walk in and see "The Chase"..Wow..very humbling...I enjoyed the show as well as the trade show..Although I wasn't out on my own yet it gave me vision to get a shop started...I saw the NTA booth there but didn't think much about it at the time...Just another organization wanting my money I guess...
    When I got back from that show I posted alot of the pics I took on Taxi-Net and noticed how receptive everyone was to them...Not just that though..Everyone has been good to me on Taxi-Net and has answered questions regardless of how stupid they are...I guess all us newbies drive the veterans of Taxi-Net crazy...
    But still everyone helps out..even if it's "Tough Love"..
    Taxi-Net has really helped me in more ways than I can ever express...Alot of the times I just lurk, choosing my words carefully on certain subjects...All in all though I love to have a place that like my internet home called Taxi-Net..Were like a family if you think about it...Crazy uncle, sassy sis, Moms and Dads, Sons and Daughters...Were never ALL going to get along ALL of the time..but were still here for everyone if needed...
    Over the last few weeks and months I have seen the storm brewing on Taxi-Net about the NTA and although I didn't know much about the organization at first, with all the info shared on here and doing some research on my own, I felt that it was worth saving..But the only way I could see it surviving was gutting the management that was causing the problems...I'm glad that everyone stayed civil(So to Speak) through the whole process...I went to the WTC again this year for the whole week this time..Hitting all the seminars,trade show and the competitions areas...I would get the play by play on my laptop about what was transpiring the the NTA at the show....I was there when alot of the stunts were pulled and probably one of the most meaningfull talks was with Russ Knight..We had a mutual friend that was one of his taxi's back in Alaska and we started talking about the state of the NTA...Russ asked me "What do you wanna know" I simply stated "Don't BS me, tell me the truth"...After 30 minutes or so I left the conversation with a new found respect for Russ, and more importantly the NTA and where it was going...
    So I get home from the show and see the changes have been made and that it looks like the NTA is heading in the right direction and being led by competent people until the management can be more permanently organized...
    So now I have the shop, I have the business, and I have a family to catch up with in Taxi-Net...Now I need a home to put all of these things...all of the things that have came together in my life, to make me who I am today...
    I want so badly for the NTA to be that place that I can call home..A place where we can all share our stories, congratulate and high five our successes, and be there with a shoulder to lean on during the not so happy times...
    An NTA who not only cares about competitions and furthering the art, but to be there for it's membership and gain enough respect that it's membership will be there for it as well...I would love to see the NTA broke down into 5 regions, with them being a northeast, southeast ,midwest(Maybe into 2 a north and south), a northwest, and finally a southwest...These regions will encompass all the states in that region with a regional VP that oversees the problems not being able to be resolved on a state level, or could intervene with direction from the NTA president...Each state could still hold there own competitions but a regional competition would allow them to have a goal outside of, and a level above the state...The annual winners from a regional level could then compete on the World level...Not to say that they could be the only ones compete..but it's just a start to one of many fresh new ideas...
    The NTA should also yell there voice in support of the NRA and the second amendment..There WILL be a day that every one of us the the outdoor industry will need to stand toe to toe with those wishing to take our rights away..What better way than to have a campaign along side the NRA...I can see it on a banner...THE NTA & NRA WELCOME YOU ALL....Just another thought...The UTA & NTA....Boy now there is two groups that need to merge in my opinion..How can you have unity in such a specialized field and be split apart...Now I don't claim to know the whole story of how there became an NTA and UTA separate from one another, and maybe that's the way it needs to stay...But if they are close to the same in many respects then why not have them side by side at the WTC??? Just a little something I saw and thought....
    So I'm coming to the end of this and I am tired of being HOMELESS...I need a home to share everything I am and want to hear everything everyone else is...I want to know how we all ended up here...We are all HOMELESS without the NTA...I do not want to be just sitting on the front porch waiting for the house to be built..I'm a carpenter, a welder, and electrician, a plumber, a problem solver, and an artist...I am a Taxidermist...
    Sitting down here at the shop...once again..but this time I'm about to start finishing out on of many dear heads..I have a fox and chicken scene that getting close to being done...I have a freezer full of waterfowl, and there are times I should have named my shop Bobcat Taxidermy instead of Blue Moon Taxidermy for all the cats I have ended up taking in...I'm tired it's getting late...I look at my clock one more time..It says ten till midnight...I close up the shop, start to my truck and someone is pulling in the driveway back to the shop...They get back to the shop and in this huge crate is something I laughed at before...I have to call my wife...Shes still up...waiting on me...."Honey" I said when she answers..."You ain't gonna believe this"..."What is it" she said..."Were gonna have to cut a trap door in the second floor in the morning."
     
  6. antlerman

    antlerman NTA Life Member #0118

    12,572
    6
    Good story David. Enjoyed reading it.
     
  7. dablaw

    dablaw Member

    Thanks...I'm just down the road in west Ky we should get together sometime and shoot the .....David.
     
  8. taxi_grl_ga

    taxi_grl_ga Active Member

    I just wanted to let you all know the individual that provided the lifetime membership HAS contacted me and that my membership application is on its way to an undisclosed location. From that location it will join forces with its method of payment and be on the road to Bedford as fast as the mail man can get it there! Thanks again, everyone!!!!!!!!
     
  9. dablaw

    dablaw Member

    Pony Express..Night and day till iy gets there...congrats again and enjoy it...