Monday, July 31, 2006

Long time coming – part 1

by Tom Gaylord

That wasn’t my gun I was holding. The photographer told me to hold it, over the protests of my mother who wanted me to just stand there at attention. He convinced her that it would make me look more like a little man if I held a gun and stood in a casual pose like that. He even took the shots my mother wanted and did this one at the end, saying she didn’t have to pay for it if she didn’t like how it turned out. As it happened, both she and my dad liked it best of all, and the others were never purchased, as far as I know.

I was not allowed to have a gun like that because my mother didn’t want me growing up to fight in a war like her brother had. He was killed in Cuba before we got the upper hand in that war, and my mother never got over it. She told me I should never touch a gun or even look at one because that was how her brother lost his life.

Her feelings were strong enough that my father never brought up the subject in our house. I think he had been something of a hunter in his younger years, because my uncles told me about some of his exploits in the field, but I couldn’t get a word about it from him.

Now, all my boy cousins had guns. So, whenever we went visiting, I got to sneak in some furtive time examining them. My one cousin, Bobby, even let me shoot his BB gun when I slept over at his house. It had to be done on the sly, you understand, because Bobby’s parents knew how my mother felt and would never have sanctioned my shooting if they had known.

BB guns were not that common when I was a boy, so my friends didn’t have them as young boys often do today. Some had their own .22s that their fathers would take them out to shoot from time to time, but that was controlled by the parents, and I was never invited, even to watch.

As you might imagine, all of this denial and deprivation built up a tremendous curiosity about guns and a desire to own and shoot them. It became the central theme in my life. Of course when you’re young you think your parents run the world, but as you begin to grow up you realize they don’t and that some day things will start going your way. For me, that day came when I was shipped off to preparatory school. There had been talk of military school before that, but my father put his foot down and refused to consider it. But preparatory school was common for families where the kids were expected to attend college.


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