I remember the first time I handled a real gun. I had major surgery on my left arm when I was 5 and this happened before that time. We lived in Three Rivers, Texas, a small Texas town with probably one, maybe two stop lights.
Our rent house was a couple of blocks from "downtown" where all the important businesses were - such as the theater, drug stores, 5 & Dime and the barber shop where I got my first-ever haircut. I can remember so much of the town, not because I was precocious but because we lived there three different times. This story is about the first stay when I was about three. I'm told we lived there 2 years, eight months and I was 3 years old when we left. It was my third town to live in.
Dad worked for tfhe oil & gas exploration arm of a major oil company, The Texas Company, now Texaco. We were on a doodlebug crew, otherwise known as a seismographic survey crew. Drill a hole, set a dynamite charge, blow it and record the earth's vibrations as they pass through the various soil & rock strata. Hot sweaty work. Vibrators, or thumpers, are used instead of dynamite nowdays.
Anyway, we lived in rent houses, often did not know our neighbors well until we got settled. We weren't poor but sometimes people assumed we were poor white-trash because we had no fixed home. We were always on the move, not quite like gypsies. Wherever we lived, mom was home with me. By our selves. Dad might have to leave at dark-thirty to meet the crew, or a land owner, 50 miles down the road. It'd often be dark-thirty or much later when he returned.
Now neither mom or dad were very big on guns. He had them for hunting, a deer rifle and a shot gun for dove & quail hunting. However, they recognized that there just might be an occasion to use one for hunting of a different kind. The kind of hunting involving un-welcome "guests" or such. Two-legged snakes and rats. Mom left them in the closet by themselves. The closet was definitely off-limits to me. I knew what was in there & I knew what to expect if I didn't obey. There is something to say for corporal punishment.
I remember one day mom & dad instructed me to go to his closet and open the door. OK. Did that. He followed me there and showed me, a three-year old! how to carry his 12 gauge shotgun to mom. We had a carpeted floor, unusual in our rent-houses, so the dragging didn't harm the stock as much as my grubby fingerprints around the barrel did. ;>) Now, the left arm, mentioned earlier, was deformed from birth and is a bit shorter than the right. Four fingers are attached, no thumb. Lifting a full-sized scattergun, even using both hands, was simply not an option.
He taught me to pick up a box of shells first, tuck it under my left arm and then grab the barrel of the shotgun, a very lo-ong 12 gauge bird gun (Winchester Model 12, IIRC) to this 3-year old's view, and run down the hall dragging the gun behind me. Years later I learned he never kept a loaded gun in the house. He just didn't see the need for it. Of course, we were never burglarized, robbed or assaulted until I was about 12. That's when a camera was stolen from our unoccupied car in San Antonio. My daughter was about 5 the first time our house was burglarized.
We practised that drill every once in while. Perhaps there were outside events driving the practise sessions. I do not know to this day and they are no longer around to ask.
SWMBO! and I, her ever-obedient servant these long years!, have held a different point of view for many years, now. We taught our kids gun safety when they began to walk. DON'T TOUCH! LEAVE! TELL AN ADULT! Hey, it if it worked for the NRA's Eddie Eagle, it'll work for my kids. Eddie Eagle teaches:
Well, that's how I first encountered a real gun - hauling it to momma for our protection. In the next posts, I'll recount how we taught our kids to shoot and more.
God Bless Ya''ll !