Monday, July 17, 2006

Never let her down – part 1

by Tom Gaylord

Dennis Cathcart was my best friend when I was a kid. We used to play together every day, and we even managed to get assigned to the same class in school. If I did something, he did it too. If he was somewhere, I wasn't far behind. The two of us were as inseparable as two young boys can be and still have identities of their own.

One thing we both liked to do was play soldier. The war with Spain had just been fought, so there was a lot of military paraphernalia around, and two clever boys soon acquired quite a set of equipment for themselves. Dennis' mother was a great seamstress, so she sewed up uniforms for both of us. My mother didn't sew, but she was more often the designated chuck wagon for the terrible twosome, because we tended to play at my house more often.

One day, my dad came home from work with an old BB gun someone had given him. They knew he had a boy and thought I might like to have a toy gun to play with. Since it was broken, both my parents thought I couldn't get into any trouble with it, although it still looked like a gun and had a lot of play value left in it.

Well, I was sure glad to get that gun, I can tell you! Until then I had never had a toy gun of any kind, because my mother was dead set against them. My father had an old shotgun he kept up in the attic, but he wasn't much of a shooter, and I never saw him use it.

Mother used to preach against little boys having guns because she said they always led to no good. I never thought she would let me keep this one, only when she saw how excited I was, I think she softened a little. I had to promise never to point it at anyone or at any animals, a promise I made without reservation.

When I showed the gun to Dennis, he was as excited as I was. His folks didn't have anything against guns, they just didn't happen to have a BB gun. We were both so young that the question of gun ownership was still several years away, and for me it would be even longer.

The first thing Dennis did was examine the new/old gun thoroughly. It didn't have a trigger, so it wouldn't stay cocked, but the spring seemed quite strong. It was the kind of gun you cocked by pushing down the stock and sort of breaking the gun in the middle.

He then poured some oil down the barrel because his dad had told him BB guns ran on oil. Nothing happened, of course, but we both felt we were a step closer to having a working gun.


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