They used to dominate the gun writing field but they are mostly all gone now. When I went to my first NRA show more than 40 years ago there they were. I was more interested in them than I was the products on display. This was better than being at the Academy Awards. I'm talking about characters-real honest-to-goodness characters. As I walked the aisles it seemed they were everywhere. Not only did I meet them but most of them also became friends over the years.
I'm talking about the likes of Rex Applegate, Charles Askins, Jimmy Clark, Dean Grennell, Bill Jordan, Elmer Keith, John Lachuk, Bob Milek, George Nonte, Skeeter Skelton, Hal Swiggett, John Wootters ... I was privileged to visit some of them in their homes, as well as have some of them visit me. It was a wonderful Technicolor world, but like most of the rest of the world, everything has changed. The world has become too much plain-vanilla and today I can count the characters remaining on the fingers of one hand.
As a budding sixgunner the man from the list I identified with the most, the one whose articles I looked for every month, was Charles A. Skelton, who soon became affectionately known as Skeeter. He basically began his writing career right here with this magazine in the late 1950's. At the time he was Sheriff of Deaf Smith County, Texas. Skeeter was on the Amarillo Police Department in 1950 when he met the love of his life, Sally. He also served on the Border Patrol and as a Federal Agent. When I read his first article in GUNS I was hooked on Skeeter for life.
I first met him at the NRA show when I looked up and saw this fellow walking towards me in a nice blue suit, tie, and light-colored Stetson. I knew immediately it was him. I walked up to him, said hello introducing myself, and handed him a picture. He grabbed me by the arm and said: "Son, let's go somewhere quiet where we can talk." And talk we did. The picture I showed him was of the barrel of a sixgun. Not just any sixgun, but a Colt Single Action. And on the barrel it said: "Russian & S&W Special .44" and I had found the way to his sixgunning heart.
I was just a teenager when I discovered Skeeter in these pages. I've saved all of his articles, but even if I hadn't I would still remember them. Such articles as "Pistols For Plainclothesmen" in which he extolled the virtues of pocket pistols. Eventually I had a Smith & Wesson Chiefs Special .38 dehorned and slicked up just like his. I lusted over his nickel-plated...