Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Review: "Oh What Have I Done" 266 pages, Amazon

Roy Ekamp, 99 with Dean Weingarten (mustache and hat)
Oh What Have I Done, by Roy Eykamp, Amazon, paperback 266 pages $25, Kindle $9.99, Kindle text to speech enabled.

Roy Eykamp is 99 years old.  He made his first gun when he was seven years old. It was a crude pistol made from a barrel he salvaged from the trash, fired with a hand held hammer, and later, strong rubber bands cut from inner-tubes and a breechblock.

He used it to start his lifelong talent for making money. He shot gophers with it, using .22 shorts. The government paid a 5 cent bounty for each gopher. He made enough money shooting gophers, that when his mother confiscated his homemade gun, he was able to buy a factory one with the proceeds, a Winchester single shot. It was likely a model 67, and cost $5.  With the Winchester, he was able to shoot jack rabbits, which had a bounty of 9 cents.

A picture of Roy when he was about 16 shows him with upgraded armament. He is holding what appears to be a Springfield 86, a good bolt action .22 with tubular magazine.  I carried the sister rifle, model 84-C, with the detachable 5 shot magazine, for most of my youth.

Oh What Have I Done is the remarkable story of a life of invention, adventure, and achievement.  Roy Eykamp lived through the transformation of farming from horsepower to the giant agricultural machines of today. He was born in 1918, and is clear headed today.  His story is one that could be inspirational reading for every high school student. He shows how an innovative thinker and hard worker raised himself and his family by his bootstraps. In the process, he improved agriculture world wide. One of his patents became accepted practice, and is widely used today.

His early years show that firearms were integral and accepted tools in America a hundred years ago.  Roy became an exceptional shot who always thought outside the box. From shooting pheasants on the fly with a single-shot .22, to hunting Canadian wolves from an airplane, his shooting skills were highly honed and superior to most.

I do not recommend attempting to duplicate his feats today. Using .22 shorts like artillery shells to take out geese feeding on corn, out of sight and half a mile away, over a hill, is not something to encourage in today's crowded society. You have to read the story to see if you find it credible. I did.

The book is about more than shooting and guns. As you follow Roy's adventures, you learn how a keen eye for detail and a talent for invention lead Roy to successful production.  Then an inner voice took him to Australia, in 1963.

Thomas Jefferson wrote:
The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.
Roy Eykamp accomplished that feat. He added Kikuyu grass to the useful plants available to Australian and world agriculture. Kikuyu originated in South Africa. Several people had tried to find a way to produce Kikuyu seed in an economical way.  All had failed. Roy, ignoring the experts, using his own observations and experiments, succeeded. He was able to find ways to grow Kikuyu and produce marketable seed. The Eykamps market Kikuyu seed all over the world. Kikuyu produces remarkable turf, and superior pasture land.

Roy and his family are primary producers who have significantly increased the productivity of world agriculture.  Their success has improved the lives of innumerable people.

His story is worth the reading.  I am privileged to have met him.

Oh What Have I Done is available on Kindle and in paperpack at Amazon.com.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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