Friday, January 06, 2006

Daisy Red Ryder BB gun

1953 was a very confusing year for a 10 year old. In 1953 Joseph Stalin died; The Korean War ended; Polio was in its 2nd big year; we still got our major, family, entertainment from a FM radio in the kitchen or living room; Our telephone didn’t have a dial and the number was just 26; It would be the year of my first BB gun. I bugged my mom and dad unmercifully with constant banter, “can I have a BB gun, can I, huh, all my friends have one.” “Can I please, can I”? They finally caved and said OK but I needed to buy it myself. I immediately made tracks for downtown as fast as 10 year old feet in black tennis shoes could possible travel. Right down to Mr. Anderson’s Hardware store where the brand new Daisy Red Ryder 1000 shot Western Carbine resided on the wall. It had a Walnut stock, with a 10” leather strap on a saddle ring and had a blued finish just like a real Winchester .30/.30. Mr. Anderson just watched me and grinned for several minutes because I could not speak until I caught my breath. I then started pointing at the Daisy Red Ryder 1000 and indicated that I wanted it. Mr. Anderson took it off the rack and handed it over to me with a look of suspicion in his eyes. Lovingly I caressed the stock and rubbed the barrel, as I turned the rifle over and over, making sure it had a 10” leather tie on a saddle ring. I think I was now hyperventilating. “Do you have any money?” he asked knocking me out of my trance. I had not thought about money and apologetically responded “No” and I looked down at the floor for relief. “Ted, you have to have money for me to let you have this rifle” he responded and removed the BB gun from my grip. “I’ll have to call your father about this". He went over to the phone and called my father and several times during the call, he turned and looked at me frowning. Mr. Anderson then turned and walked over towards me and placed the rifle under the counter, as my heart sank. Then I noticed a smirk on his face. “Young man your father has agreed to the sale, but I am to keep the BB gun until you give me enough money to pay for it. I will keep it right under this counter, with a note on it saying that it is yours”. “Thank you Mr. Anderson” I blurted out, “I will be back real soon”. That night, around the supper table, we discussed my financial plight and neither of my brothers agreed to give me a loan. Everyone decided that I should mow lawns for the money. We had a gray, reel, mower and the next morning I set out to mow all of the lawns in town. Soon the rifle was mine. When I got my rifle home, my mother right away set down the rules. I would only shoot at targets and never shoot at people, the dog, her flowers, the squirrels or the birds. I agreed but soon my interests wobbled a bit as shooting green army guys was getting boring. I shot at a few birds and didn’t even come close. Then I heard a bird in the tree above me and there was a sparrow chirping happily away sitting on a branch about 6 feet above me. Slowly I shouldered my new Daisy Red Ryder Carbine. I moved very, very, slowly to avoid scaring the bird. I took careful aim and fired. I hit the sparrow right where I was aiming but now my elation quickly turned to panic as the bird fell lifeless at my feet. I didn’t know what to do. I really didn’t want to kill anything and now I had. I poked at the bird with the barrel of my rifle shouting “wake up stupid bird, wake up”. It didn’t move. I was devastated. I picked up the bird and ran into the house, abandoning my rifle and shouting for my mom. The tears were now pouring out of me and were falling on the lifeless bird cradled in my hands when my mom arrived and I sobbed to her what I had done. “I’m sorry mom, you told me I couldn’t shoot birds and I did” and I’m sure my words were about impossible to understand at this point. “I’m sorry mom, I’m sorry”. My mother took me outside and picked up the BB gun and I knew it was gone. I was now sobbing hysterically, not for the gun but for the bird. She put her arm around me and walked me over to the edge of the garden and showed me where I could bury the sparrow and then said “when you bury the bird say a prayer and tell it that your really sorry and I’m sure God will forgive you.” I nodded and thanked my mom and with my bare hands dug a very nice grave for the bird. I didn’t ask for my BB gun back.

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