COLLECTORS CORNER - By Richard J. Nemec

Thirty years ago, the $60.00 investment I made purchasing an OGCA Life Membership has repaid me untold dividends. Much like a good day on Wall Street, our meetings are the arena where fantasy can become reality. Sometimes lady luck or deep pockets may determine the outcome at our meetings, but for those men and women poised to meet the challenge of success, knowledge and persistence usually prevail. Every collector has volumes of great stories and moments of conquest that they will never forget. The following events remain indelibly etched in this collectors mind.

I can never remember a time in my life when I didn’t own a gun. My parents must have sensed that I was different. At age 8 or 9 when other kids were reading comic books, I was reading gun books. I grew up in rural Seven Hills, Ohio and it was quite normal to see me tramping around with my first rifle, a Remington Model 12. Whenever possible, I would find a way to get to the Powder Horn Gun Shop located on W. 25th Street in Cleveland, Ohio, Burt Willsey, the proprietor would let me hang around there. Forty years ago gun shows were at a premium. I did not attend many, but the best local gun show was held at the National Guard Armory in Chagrin Falls. The exhibitors were friendly and always took time to talk with me. I made as many friends as I could.

The real “thrill of the hunt” began for me at age twelve. In company with my father, I attended my first OGCA meeting at Veterans Memorial Hall in Columbus, Ohio. The atmosphere was almost magical. That event was the most exciting day of my life. Right then and there I knew this forum was to be my station in life.

Four decades have now come and gone since my first OGCA meeting. Over the years my travels have taken me far and near. I have met gun collectors, dealers, authors and arms manufacturers from around the world. You might say that I have lived a real “Story Book Life.” At the beginning, it was all about guns, but as I reflect back in time, it’s really about people. OGCA has had a profound effect on my life. I cherish the memories of those one on one gun room chats. Today, my list of friends completely fills a directory.

Last year the OGCA presented me with my highest honor. In 1999, I participated and won First Prize at our annual Display Show. I just do not have words to express my appreciation. After the awards ceremony I remembered some of my mentors. Legendary gun collectors like Willis Neuwirth, Bud Shumaker and George Scholl just to name a few, were my inspiration. Emulate them as I may, deep down inside I know that I’m not worthy enough to have even carried their gun cases.

As a mature collector, my concern naturally focuses on the future of gun collecting. In closing, I wish to share my thoughts about that subject. As the oldest and largest private gun collectors organization in America, every member should take if upon themselves to preserve the essence of OGCA and protect our Second Amendment Right. I think that ALL OGCA members should belong to the NRA. I believe it is the obligation of accomplished collectors to educate the novice. For new gun collectors, knowledge is your most valuable possession. Before you buy a gun, please read a book. For collectors in general, always have “Pride of Ownership” and make your handshake mean something. Last and most important of all, let’s keep the collector in the OHIO GUN COLLECTORS ASSOCIATION.