John T. Wayne, Author

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FEATURED John Wayne’s grandson signs commemorative Winchester rifle at Hurrah! Festival By Marty Bachman editor@dequeenbee.com   John T. Wayne, grandson of movie actor John Wayne, signs a John Wayne Commemorative Winchester rifle owned by Gilham native, Ben Cirkles. About the time Ben Cirkles of Gillham was in the third grade, he had the chance to visit with a great uncle on his mother’s side of the family — family they didn’t see often. What he remembers of that long ago visit was the great uncle, Charlie Barrow’s gun collection, which had a John Wayne  Commemorative Winchester rifle as its high point. Many years later, after the death of Barrows, Cirkles met again with that side of the family, this time with his second cousin, the son of Charlie, Victor Barrow. In the course of a discussion about Charlie, Cirkles asked about the rifle and if it was still in the family. Victor was surprised that Cirkles, who was very young at the time of his initial family visit, still remembered the rifle, which was the only gun in the collection that Victor had inherited.   John T. Wayne with Ben Cirkles’ 8-year-old son, Colt. “I remembered the John Wayne Winchester being the center piece,” Cirkles said. “He (Victor) was amazed I still remembered and said he never met anyone that interested in a gun.” Victor brought out the rifle to show him, a gun that was the only thing that survived a horrific house fire that took everything Victor and his family owned. He told Cirkles that while it was important to him in that it had belonged to his father, when he passed on he would leave the rifle to Cirkles. A year later, when Victor passed away, his wife, Susan Barrow, honored the promise made to Cirkles and passed the gun on to him. A gun collector himself, though with a much smaller collection of weapons, Cirkles now proudly showcases the John Wayne Winchester as the centerpiece of his assemblage. Then came the 2019 Hurrah! Festival. As he was walking by the entrance to the Sevier County Museum during the festivities, he saw a sign that said John Wayne’s grandson, John T. Wayne, would be inside signing copies of his new book. He went inside with the hope of meeting him. “When I saw the grandson, he really looked like him,” Cirkles said. “He was a big man with big hands. He looked like John Wayne to me, fit to a tee. He could probably dress up like him and play John Wayne and pull it off real well.” Cirkles went in and talked to him a bit and asked if he would sign his rifle. Wayne said yes and noted that he had been asked in the past to sign other people’s rifles. Cirkles asked De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown if it would be ok to bring the rifle to the festival and was told yes, as long as it was in the case, so Cirkles’s wife, Wendy, went home to grab the gun. “He seemed rather touched to sign it,” Cirkles said. The gun is a lever action with a wood stock, and each side has engravings — on one side a cattle drive is etched into the wood, and on the other side are the names of John Wayne movies. “He looked at the engravings and talked about his favorite John Wayne movie,” Cirkles said. Also in the wood stock is a commemorative coin with a picture of John Wayne on it. The gun has a long history, with it originally being purchased as a gift to Charlie Barrow from his wife, Margie, who is 93 years old. Cirkles still has the original case it came in and it was the case, which is scorched from the house fire, that saved the gun itself. Cirkles still has the original bullets as well. Cirkles said he’s always had a fascination with guns and gun collections, and while he prefers a bolt-action, he has no issues owning the lever-action Winchester. “I’ve always been a fan of John Wayne,” he said. “If kids today watched those kinds of movies, they’d be better today. They’re about life lessons, about truth. That’s not what you see anymore.” “This will be your gun one day,” John T. Wayne told Cirkles’s son, Colt, age 8, before inviting him around the table to have a picture taken together. Cirkles said that he wasn’t worried about the gun losing value because John Wayne’s grandson had signed it. “This is as close as I’ll ever get to John Wayne,” he said.
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FEATURED John Wayne’s grandson signs commemorative Winchester rifle at Hurrah! Festival By Marty Bachman editor@dequeenbee.com   John T. Wayne, grandson of movie actor John Wayne, signs a John Wayne Commemorative Winchester rifle owned by Gilham native, Ben Cirkles. About the time Ben Cirkles of Gillham was in the third grade, he had the chance to visit with a great uncle on his mother’s side of the family — family they didn’t see often. What he remembers of that long ago visit was the great uncle, Charlie Barrow’s gun collection, which had a John Wayne  Commemorative Winchester rifle as its high point. Many years later, after the death of Barrows, Cirkles met again with that side of the family, this time with his second cousin, the son of Charlie, Victor Barrow. In the course of a discussion about Charlie, Cirkles asked about the rifle and if it was still in the family. Victor was surprised that Cirkles, who was very young at the time of his initial family visit, still remembered the rifle, which was the only gun in the collection that Victor had inherited.   John T. Wayne with Ben Cirkles’ 8-year-old son, Colt. “I remembered the John Wayne Winchester being the center piece,” Cirkles said. “He (Victor) was amazed I still remembered and said he never met anyone that interested in a gun.” Victor brought out the rifle to show him, a gun that was the only thing that survived a horrific house fire that took everything Victor and his family owned. He told Cirkles that while it was important to him in that it had belonged to his father, when he passed on he would leave the rifle to Cirkles. A year later, when Victor passed away, his wife, Susan Barrow, honored the promise made to Cirkles and passed the gun on to him. A gun collector himself, though with a much smaller collection of weapons, Cirkles now proudly showcases the John Wayne Winchester as the centerpiece of his assemblage. Then came the 2019 Hurrah! Festival. As he was walking by the entrance to the Sevier County Museum during the festivities, he saw a sign that said John Wayne’s grandson, John T. Wayne, would be inside signing copies of his new book. He went inside with the hope of meeting him. “When I saw the grandson, he really looked like him,” Cirkles said. “He was a big man with big hands. He looked like John Wayne to me, fit to a tee. He could probably dress up like him and play John Wayne and pull it off real well.” Cirkles went in and talked to him a bit and asked if he would sign his rifle. Wayne said yes and noted that he had been asked in the past to sign other people’s rifles. Cirkles asked De Queen Mayor Jeff Brown if it would be ok to bring the rifle to the festival and was told yes, as long as it was in the case, so Cirkles’s wife, Wendy, went home to grab the gun. “He seemed rather touched to sign it,” Cirkles said. The gun is a lever action with a wood stock, and each side has engravings — on one side a cattle drive is etched into the wood, and on the other side are the names of John Wayne movies. “He looked at the engravings and talked about his favorite John Wayne movie,” Cirkles said. Also in the wood stock is a commemorative coin with a picture of John Wayne on it. The gun has a long history, with it originally being purchased as a gift to Charlie Barrow from his wife, Margie, who is 93 years old. Cirkles still has the original case it came in and it was the case, which is scorched from the house fire, that saved the gun itself. Cirkles still has the original bullets as well. Cirkles said he’s always had a fascination with guns and gun collections, and while he prefers a bolt- action, he has no issues owning the lever-action Winchester. “I’ve always been a fan of John Wayne,” he said. “If kids today watched those kinds of movies, they’d be better today. They’re about life lessons, about truth. That’s not what you see anymore.” “This will be your gun one day,” John T. Wayne told Cirkles’s son, Colt, age 8, before inviting him around the table to have a picture taken together. Cirkles said that he wasn’t worried about the gun losing value because John Wayne’s grandson had signed it. “This is as close as I’ll ever get to John Wayne,” he said.
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John T. Wayne, Author