The Owl Head Pistol
by Reavis E. Dixon

       Throughout my childhood days it was common to hear the older folks talk about Owl Head Pistols. My youthful mind had conjured up elaborate, ornate firearms which surely must have been the adorning object in the attire of most Southern Gentlemen in the first half of the twentieth century.

Owl Head Pistol
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       Why, surely any man worth his salt must certainly be the owner of an Owl Head Pistol, I reasoned.


       Late in his lifetime, my father Omer Dixon and I were sitting together. Nothing special happening, just enjoying a bit of father and son time together, when the subject of Owl Head Pistols came to my mind.


       “Daddy”, I asked, “what was the significance of an Owl Head Pistol that all of the old folks talked about”?


       I remember today the gleam in his eye, and the smile upon his face when I asked my question. The smile reflecting his nostalgia regarding the subject, and the gleam in his eye, his delight that I had asked the question.


       “It was about the sorriest, cheapest, thing a man could buy”, he said with a soft chuckle. I later learned that the firearm was made by the Iver Johnson Company, and got it’s nickname because it sported embossed owls heads on the upper portion of the grips.


       “One night about 1931, I was going over to the home of some girls for a visit” he said. “I knew it was a pretty rough community, but in those days I was about as much a man as any of the others, so I was not concerned”.


       That afternoon, Omer told a first cousin, Virgil Davis where he was going, and right away Virgil recognized that he was going to a location where many a young man had brought home a shiner that wasn’t there when he left home.


       Virgil tried to talk Omer out of the visit, but when he saw that it was useless to try, he insisted that he accept the loan of his “Owl Head Pistol”. Omer Dixon agreed, took the firearm, and that evening, he set out walking toward his destination.


       Omer arrived at the home of his friends about dark, and a yellow, full moon was just rising in the east. His friends were expecting him and they invited him to come in and “Set a spell” with them. It was winter time, and a fire was crackling in the fireplace, when a distinct knock was heard upon the front door.



       The mother of the young women answered the door, and they heard the voice of a man asking if Omer were there. She said “yes”, and the man asked if he may speak with him for a minute.


       When Omer Dixon reached the door the man said “Step out here for a minute”. As he walked through the door, two men grabbed him by the arms, and a spirited struggle commenced.


       Omer broke the grip of one of the men, and reached into his pocket for the Owl Head pistol. When he pulled it, “The moonlight struck it, and the nickel finish shined like a mirror in the moonlight”, he said. “When the other’n saw it, he turned me loose and jumped backward, stumbled over a flower trough on the porch, and fell flat of his back in the yard. He didn’t lay there long though” Omer said. “He jumped to his feet and both of them cleared the wire fence in a bound, running through the cool winter night for dear life.


       Omer went back inside, and never mentioned the incident to his hosts. One of the young ladies ask “What did he want”?


       “Oh nothing important, but I think he kicked over your flower trough on the way out” was Omer’s reply.