Wednesday, August 09, 2006

By the book – part 2

By the book - part 1

by Tom Gaylord

Well, as you might imagine, guns were never on any author's good list, at least not in the literature my mother subscribed to. She had testimonies from various women's groups and even from some milksop men, claiming that the association with guns was the first step to a life of crime. As a result, I wasn't allowed to have any guns as toys, nor was I allowed to associate with kids who did. If my mother caught one of my friends with so much as a cap gun in his possession, it was tantamount to disaster. The young miscreant was invited to go home immediately, while my mother got his mother on the phone and bent her ear for an hour on the horrors of guns in the hands of kids. I suppose she was the butt of many jokes for this, but of course adults never talk about such things openly in front of kids.

A funny thing I only learned much later in life was that many women's magazines, such as Cosmopolitan and, much later, Redbook, wholly supported kids learning how to use guns. They often spoke of teaching young boys to be "manly" men, something a mother was supposed to hope for, I guess. But my mother never read those articles, or if she did, their message went unheeded. Guns were evil in her eye, and she continued to convince herself even if it took the writings of characters with whom she would not normally associate.

But over at my grandmother's, there was a sanctuary waiting for me. All the accumulated flotsom and jetsom of eight healthy kids (six boys!) was tucked not-so-neatly into every nook and cranny of the basement, attic and garage of her huge Victorian house. There were things there that I never knew existed and have never seen others since. And there were the more mundane things. Things a boy of 13 could relate to.

For one thing, and I thought it to be the most important thing, all of Grandma's boys had been shooters. Not just casual shooters—real dyed-in-the-wool get-up-at-four-in-the-morning-and-stay-out-till-dark shooters. Their firearms weren't at her house, of course; they had taken them when they moved out, but the remnants were still visible. Shooting trophies, stuffed game animals, antique reloading tools and books on shooting abounded in that house. There were photographs of all the boys pursuing their favorite shooting sports. Some were of hunting scenes, but most were from the range, and were dated about thirty years earlier. I even found some pictures of my father, who had apparently been something of an offhand rifle shot in his day.

Then one day I found what I was looking for. I hadn't known that I had been looking for anything in particular, but when I found it I knew it was what I wanted all along. There, in a red felt bag, was an old Daisy BB gun! It had obviously seen better days, but it could still be cocked and I hoped that it shot as well.


Post a Comment

<< Home