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Saturday, September 18, 2010

My BB Gun

My dad bought it for me in one of his moments of generosity and soberness.  That gun was my Atari, TV, and my world of entertainment, a radio was the only other luxury item in our house.  I sank many ships (glass bottles) in the ditch.  I shot birds which mother cooked for us.  They were good eating; chicken isn't the only fowl that is edible!  Mom never allowed me to shoot birds like Mocking Birds or Red Birds only black birds and Starlings.

However I must confess that I have always had this failing.  Sometimes I'm impulsive!  I just don't think!  Something says to me do this and I do it, I don't think about the consequences or look to see if someone is watching to catch me.  I just do what the impulse tells me to do.  Imagine me walking along, eight years old, my trusty BB gun in hand, grandma's rooster pecking at the ground with his rear end toward me and “POP” the rooster gets it in the butt.  Now I know it seems to some of you that this was cruel but it was funny to see that mean son of a gun jump.  He had chased me into the house more than once, so in my opinion, he got what he deserved.  Now the mule got what he deserved too.  He had chased me and caused me to dive head first through the three-strand barbed wire fence more than once. I never told mom the reason my cloths were torn was because I was diving through barbed wire to escape the mule; I was not supposed to be in the barnyard with him in the first place.  Well when he presented his rear end to my BB gun I just couldn't resist.  He was really funny because he would flinch then buck and then run.  You know that a young boy just can't stop once he starts doing something like this but my grandpa finally caught me.  He didn't say much; that’s just how grandpa was, but he told my father. 

When I walked into the house and he said, "Come here boy!" I said "OH NO!" to myself of course.  What the rooster and mule had done to their rear ends and what happened to mine bore no comparison; I would have gladly traded places with them.  Plus my father was so mad he made me bring my BB gun and while I watched he grasped the barrel and crashed it against the coal bucket.  The stock broke off and the end bent, it was a sorry looking sight!  However it was not nearly as bent as I was. My dad was never physically abusive to anyone but when he applied his hand to your bottom you understood the old rule “Spare the rod and spoil the child”.  However, regardless of how long my butt felt the pain of his hand the real pain was in my mind.  My best friend was dead, no more sunken ships in the ditch, no more birds for mom to cook for us.  Mom told me years later when we were talking about old times and the subject of my episode of shooting live stock came up, that my father had sat by that coal bucket for an hour after he had sent me outside, trying to put the stock back together.  I had climbed my tree and taken refuge on top of the hen house so I didn’t return to the house unit dark.

I got my BB gun back, minus its stock; my father did cut the broken point off so it was flat.  It still worked once you learned to compensate for the bend in the barrel when you aimed it at something, I soon could again strike matches (stuck in the ground about ten feet away)  two times out of five with my shots from the bent barrel.  I never shot farm animals again. 

The lesson I learned from this was not to become evident to me until many years later.  I had a son and he was just as impulsive as I had been.  His mother could not understand how he could do some of the things he did without first considering the consequences.  She always believed he was ling about why he had done something when he answered “I don’t know, I just did.”  I understood!  I could listen to him explain why he had done what ever it was and see myself shooting the rooster and mule in the butt without ever looking to see if I was being watched. Perhaps that is one of the reasons we are so close today, understanding.

1 comment:

  1. I grew up in a time not much further behind you. Things from my childhood mirror yours very much. We moved, we moved a LOT, I believe I counted over 24 homes in a 15 year period. We were very poor, outhouses, water pump, no heat in the house... I would take a glass of water to bed and put it on the nightstand and in the morning it would be frozen solid. This story really caught my attention since I have a "BB Gun" story as well. My stepfather was an alcoholic and never treated me well when I was a boy. My grandmother was the only one that ever cared for me or comforted me growing up. She bought me a BB gun for my 10th birthday. The very first day I owned it there was a balloon lying on the front porch, I took aim, shot the balloon and guess what... no POP... just an ear shattering breaking sound off to my left... the BB had ricocheted off the balloon and hit the lower glass part of our storm door, breaking it into a million pieces. Well needless to say my stepfather arrived home intoxicated as he always did and saw the broken door. He promptly took my BB gun and "snapped" it over his knee. I'll never forget that pain in my heart as he took what I considered the best gift I'd ever received and destroyed it the very day I got it. I wish I could say there was a lesson to be learned from this experience, well in a way I guess there is... I grew up HATING alcohol. I to this day, over 40 years later still do not drink. Everyone finds it strange that I won't even have a social drink, if they knew what I endured as a child they wouldn't wonder. Love your stories! It's like reading an account of my own life.