|AUTHOR'S PREFACE: First of all I might say
that I am deeply in debt to those around the world who have generously donated
their time, ideas, information and photos for the production of this website.
You can find most of their names listed on the "Contributors Page" under the
"Scrapbook Menu." I really don't think there is another website quite like it
anywhere on the internet as one of my passions is the promotion of the antique
toy hobbyESPECIALLY the Toy Cap Gun Hobby and you dealers and collectors
who make this possible! Thanks to all of you!
Get INVOLVED in
promoting the Cap Gun Hobby ~ before a small minority of misguided activists
and some ill-advised legislators take it away from you!
Here's a photo
from Jamie Linford (pictured) of the sign at Nichols Green in Jacksonville,
Texas. My cousin Robert donated the land and improvements of this large park to
the city of Jacksonville. He used to be the mayor several years after my Uncle
Talley had also been the mayor. Uncle Talley was once named the city's
"Industrial Founding Father," for before he brought Nichols Industries to
Jacksonville it had only had a basket factory and some sawmills and Lon Morris
College, where many of my family members attended.
|This website is primarily the story of Nichols
Industries, Inc. In telling the story, the cap pistols are the central focus
and the history of the company is also included. Some of the more personal
stories of the Nichols family are also included, for after all, Nichols
Industries, Inc. was "Our" company. True, it was owned by the stockholders who
were family, friends and investors, but it was started by our family. All text
and narratives are humbly submitted by Mike Nichols, the oldest son of Lewis W.
Nichols, Jr., who was the younger brother of Talley W. Nichols. Talley and
Lewis, along with their wives Ruth and Phyllis (respectively), were the
founders of the dream that became Nichols Industries, Inc.
|When I was a kid, my dad used to take me down to
the plant in Pasadena where I watched the toy guns being made. I even helped on
the line, though I am sure that some of the more cynical workers might have
considered that I was actually "IN THE WAY!!!" My earliest memories of this
time were of the small little "blockhouse" that is still in Pasadena, and then
the Quonset Hut that was built off to the side. Later, Richey Street was
extended to the Washburn Tunnel in Pasadena and the hut was torn down, the land
sold and the street was finished.
I remember when the company moved to Jacksonville,
Texas. By now my father had become a Methodist minister and we were "out" of
the company. However, though you may not (now) be involved in any of the
decisions or creativity, there was always a sense of permanence of family pride
in what those who were still involved were doing. My dad was very proud of his
older brother and related to me the stories that were behind the
And you thought Nichols Industries only made
Cap Guns? At the time, this was the best commercial sling shot in the world.
Now it might just be the rarest. And to think when I was bidding on it, I
thought that nobody else would know how rare it was. Was I wrong!!! It finally
sold for about 600 times the original price! I haven't even seen one of these
in 50 years!
CLICK ON PHOTO TO SEE IT
|Photo contribution by
My Uncle Talley made the
world's greatest toys.
Photo taken in
Many thanks to
Click Here To See The "Move To
Jacksonville" History Pages
Don't forget to see our
Section, where all of you can put your favorite Cap Guns' photos
and also photos of childhood memories or "regular" toys.
We also have web
pages available for you to advertise your Cap Guns and "regular" toys to sell
and anything else you want. All you have to do is to contact us and it can be
How does Jamie get all of the luck? Well, to
be fair, he goes to the shows and looks! And also to be fair, he finally sold
me one of these. This particular version of the Super Sling (it doesn't say
"Shot") must be a much later version or packaging. Notice that the doggone
rubber band looks brand new! I wonder how many of you can purchase one for 98
cents? There were little plastic balls in the sliding door handle for ammo.
Also notice that the little peep sight is not broken off. It was easy to do. I
did it about 60 years ago.
Here is an early ad
for the Super Sling Shot in the plastic bag. It has an extra rubber band in it
and also doesn't show the screw in the bottom front of the item as in the
picture above. As I recall from when I was a kid, the little plastic balls came
in several colors: namely, red, white and blue. Maybe this is "made up memory."
By the way, the Super Sling Shot was originally made in Pasadena. Photo thanks
to Robert Nichols.
Here is another example of a Nichols toy that
wasn't a Cap Gun. This particular oil derrick was built in very small numbers
actually. I was present at Nichols Industries when Uncle Talley showed me
several prototypes and said that they were going on the market. I don't
remember what possesed him to build these, except that for a period of time
there they had a pretty good working relationship with FINA Oil Company and had
made some other stuff for FINA and this project may have come out of that. It
was in about 1959 or 1960, I can't remember. All I remember is that Uncle
Talley made me feel pretty important by telling me NOT TO TELL ANYBODY as it
was super secret!!! (We were in the upstairs tool and die room where Mr. Bill
Simpson was KING, and he brought this out of the closet.---just like the story
below) Well, of course I buttoned my lip and felt important. Now I realize that
he probably only said that to make me feel important and it did the
of the things that you will notice about this one is that the top of the oil
derrick is missing. Jamie is still looking for another one (he has 3 or so)
that has the top. The top was removable, as the whole thing came as a kit. I
hope to own one someday!
Photo by Jamie Linford.
Here's an ad for the same
oil well in a magazine. I don't notice any mention of the fact that Nichols was
the manufacturer. But it's certainly the same little oil well. I should have
|When we had a chance, we sometimes visited the
plant in Jacksonville. Especially while we were living in nearby Tyler. All of
my life, I guess, I have been a "True Romantic" and when visiting my Uncle
Talley and having him give us a tour of the company, I was the happiest kid in
the world. MY FAMILY MAKES TOYS!!! Who could ask for more? Besides, apart from
my parents I thought that my Uncle Talley was the greatest living human being
in the world. He would take us to the engineering department where they were
making new dies for the next guns and tell me, "Now don't go telling anybody
about these new projects, as they are top secret." I was sure that I was
holding onto the most important secrets of humanity. I knew the people there
too, like Mr. Bill Simpson, for whom I would later work in the fireworks
industry. Mr. Bill Simpson was probably the second greatest human, for my dad
said so. But those are warm, personal, family stories.
This website is
the story, as it unfolded, in "toy terms" of that company. I was helped greatly
by other members of my family, especially those in Uncle Talley's family, as
they are older than I and have clearer memories of these events. I was also
helped by my mom, who was there from the beginning.
This website is
dedicated to the memories of
Lewis W. Nichols, Jr. (1918-1995) (my dad -
Talley W. Nichols (1914-2001) (Right)
Brothers and Best
|A Few Notes About Mike Nichols
|For pure vanity's sake, I guess I will say a few words about
myself. I may as well; there's nothing going on this Saturday morning, and I
haven't come up with the complete format to write The Great American
First of all, there's nothing special about me at all. I have
never sold a Cap Gun in my life and probably never will. I have given them away
to friends and family, but that was just a little fun in my life. I enjoy
GIVING and if you haven't discovered that "drug," then you have missed out on
one of the great secrets of Life. I probably know less about Cap Guns than the
bulk of you and am not as good a writer as a third of you. That last number
would have been higher 30 years ago, but America has steadily been going
downhill in its linguistic skills and penmanship.
I am the oldest
of four in my family (Mike, Mary Ann, Guy and Mark) and my dad was Lewis W.
Nichols, who was the younger co-founder of Nichols Industries. Always remember
when I say that Lewis and Talley were the co-founders (my dad and uncle), that
without their wives' help there probably would have been no company at all.
There were months at the beginning where it was just the twelve of them. You
know...Mom, Dad, Aunt Ruth,
Talley...AND...the other 8 people called
But BACK TO ME! When the company was first started in
Pasadena (1946) my age was minus 1 and a half. Uncle Talley already had 4 kids:
Penny Nichols (actually her name is Ruth Mary, but I didn't even find that out
until I was about 15 years old!), Lewis, James and Robert. I was born in 1947
just after the Silver Mustang came along. If I had been born a little earlier,
then I would probably have been born throwing up, for after the initial success
of the Silver Pony, the "boys" made too many of them and got into some hot
water with overstock. But by the time I came along towards Christmas in 1947,
then things were doing much better. Since my sister Mary Ann wasn't even born
until 1951, after the Stallion 45 was already doing well, then I am the only
one who remembers quite well those wonderful idyllic days in Pasadena.
I remember when
the Quonset Hut was built to house the newest production facilities. It was
called that because it had the rounded top like one of those quickly-thrown-up
army barracks in World War II. But it was a lot bigger. It was at the corner of
Richey and Jensen. At that time Richey didn't go all of the way to the Washburn
Tunnel. I even worked on the assembly line with the ladies and helped put
together things like the Super Slingshot. I was probably in the way, but
HEY...I was the boss's son! We also made cannisters for sugar and flour and a
fantastic water sprinkler that never caught on at all.
My cousin Susan,
who is a little younger than I taught me to swim in Pasadena. We would walk
towards Pasadena High School (which is still there) and over to the park and
zoo. There was also a public swimming pool. No black people were allowed, of
course, because America still hadn't gotten its brains on straight, and we were
horribly segregated. Looking back upon that factor makes me personally
embarrassed for us all, even though I had nothing to do with it. Things are
much better now, but still will be improved. But Susan taught me to
swimunderwater at first and then on the top. I think it cost a quarter to
go there. The zoo was simply a bunch of cages of animals and nothing as
sophisticated as the animal parks we see today.
added another room to the back of the house to accommodate his flock of kids,
as Dwight had now been born about the same time as my sister. The house was on
a hill so the additional "Boys Room" (with bunk beds) was actually on the
second floor and below was a family room that helped the house straddle the
garage. The house is still there on Winona Street in the old part which would
properly be called "Downtown Pasadena." Today there is no such thing as
Downtown Pasadena and there is a freeway (225) there that used to be Sterling
I spent a lot of time over at my Aunt Ruth's and also got to
know Sandy Simpson, who was Mr. Bill's daughter and a little older than I.
Those days were quite wonderful to me, but we soon moved to Dallas, as my dad
had gotten the "Call" to the ministry and went and studied to be a Methodist
After Dallas, we moved back to the Deepwater area in Pasadena
and Daddy started a new church. It thrived and then we moved to Tyler, Texas.
For me those were the greatest days of my young life, as I felt I owned that
town. The other 55,000 citizens would have smiled, for I was only a very small
part. Of course, I was on the very famous Ramey (later Boulter Jr. High)
Elementary School Yankees, and we won everything in baseball that could be won.
I made many friends and after Hurricane Carla, in 1961, we moved to Angleton,
Texas in 1962.
I went to high school there and made many lifelong friends. The
rest of my life is merely the musings of getting married and raising a family
with two kids: Amy then John. I owned a pet store for twenty years and got to
know everybody in Huntsville, Texas. Or so it would seem. After suffering a
couple of heart attacks, we prayed about what direction God wanted us to go and
within a couple of days someone bought our store, and I went into the computer
A few years later, while driving home from work, I got this
crazy idea to build a website, since I had recently been building a lot of
websites for companies all over America. The website would be about Nichols
Industries. It seemed all "planned out" for me and so I got started. Within a
very short time Mr. Jim Manning talked me into adding all of the other
companies that had been so important to the Cap Gun hobby.
line is that I am basically the very last member of any of the major Cap Gun
companies' families that remembers those "Good Old Days" and also happens to
build websites. Who else is going to do it? I just hope that you enjoy reading
about all of those special toys that kept us busy when we were kids. It was a
different day from today, and I fondly remember quite a bit of it. Especially
the part of how my family had a part in it.
|We will be
happy to list toy shows and the like (free), if you will please send them to me
have some nice photos and/or some text, please send them to me at: .
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