Thursday, November 8, 2007

Crosley, Wildlife, and Muzzle Loaders

If you didn't mind the label "Company Man," back in the 1930s it sometimes paid to be interested in things the boss was interested in--just like today. In addition to being the Cincinnati Reds' number one fan, Powel Crosley, Jr. was interested in old-time muzzle loaders and--hunter that he was--guns in general. If he were around today, he'd probably be vying with Charleton Heston for Presidency of the American Rifle Association. As it was, he and Walter Chrysler, along with some other famous millionaires, founded the American Wildlife Institute, an organization devoted to preserving wildlife habitats. Crosley had already developed a wildlife habitat of his own in Indiana, at what is today the Crosley Fish and Wildlife Area in south-central Indiana (not far off U.S. 50).

The image above is a center spread from a 1941 "Special W.L.W. Issue" of Muzzle Blasts, the journal of the National Muzzle-Loading Rifle Association, or NMLRA. The W.L.W. Issue was an honor to Crosley and WLW for their continuing support of the NMLRA. One of WLW's early stars, Maurice "Boss" Johnston, arranged many of the NMLRA's national shoots, and served as President of the organization more than once. Johnston also talked Powel Crosley into sponsoring those shoots, providing Crosley radios, Shelvadors, and other appliances for prizes. There was also a Crosley Muzzle-Loading Rifle Championship, with a handsome sliver trophy. The Crosley competition continues to be hosted by the NMLRA today, 70+ years after the first one.

Among the WLW notables in the image are Powel Crosley, Jr. (beneath the "Jr." in his name), WLW Farm Directory George Biggar (top row, under "Boosters"), James Shouse, WLW General Manager (immediately below Crosley) and Boss Johnston, the rugged, square-jawed man just right of Shouse. Several of these Crosley Broadcasting staffers were champion shooters in their own right--a designation that had more meaning then than today.

Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks

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