Have Gun Will Travel…………#19 (the 50’s)

Daisy 50 shot pump

Unwrapping the gift the young man could feel the adrenalin building,  the pulsating rush of excitement was reaching a level almost equaling a point comparable to when he received his  bike.    It wasn’t like he was expecting it,  but in the far reaches of his hopes and desires it had reached the forefront.  Uncovered, nestled in its packaging lay the fulfillment of a consuming thirst,  an object not just  representing attainment,  but a testament to achieving reliance and trust from the wellspring of his heritage.   Mike gazed at the air rifle,  a BB gun,  a real projectile abettor.

Suddenly like a baseball bat striking him,  he felt a burst of infinite disappointment.   His thoughts were,  it couldn’t be,  no it just couldn’t.   Mike looking again, confirming his first inclination, it wasn’t the Red Ryder, 1000 shot,   lever-action carbine that he had hoped for but upon closer examination it was a gold embossed daisy pump.   Looking up at the expectant faces, the question of what to say at a time like this was flashing through his mind.   He felt the significant of disappointment in the pit of his stomach but also realized he couldn’t convey his feelings to those around him,  knowing what the others expected, a reaction of joy had to be displayed.   The reality of the situation began to sink in,  a daisy pump is better than no gun at all,  taking a deep breath, he managed an expression of joy from within the depths of disappointment.

mechanix Illustrated

A monthly subscription

The Willson family subscribed to a host of current event magazines, Life, Collier’s, Saturday Evening Post, but the one his Dad would pick up the monthly was his favorite, Mechanics Illustrated.   It was while flipping through the pages of Mechanic Illustrated that Mike’s enthusiasm for his recently obtained daisy pump  air gun accelerated.   Reading an article about air guns, it pointed out that his daisy pump mod #25 was more powerful than the lever-action model and it was consistent in firing a BB because they were spring-loaded in his gun.  The lever-action with it lower velocity and gravity feed often wouldn’t fire a BB.

Mike setting up a target area in the backyard utilizing the store-bought packages of paper targets so he could visually track his proficiency.    Tin cans were also used allowing an audible sound and movement to identify a hit.    The unintended subjects that he never fired at were the chickens that were allowed to roam in the backyard.   The number of chickens varied, normally enough for gathering a few eggs and a provisional dinner on occasion and a watchful bantam rooster who served as a territorial guard dog keeping vigil on his flock.   Shortly after the gun arrived it was noticed that some of the chickens were walking rather strangely, almost lopsided.  Upon closer examination it was discovered that the chickens had ingested BB’s from the target area,  mistaking them as something edible, the BB’s remaining in their crawl, the added  weight realigning their balance.  With the cause exposed, Mike’s dad imposed a new rule,  no more target practice in the backyard, if he wanted to shoot, he would have to go to the hills on the other side of Mountain Blvd..   He did venture one more target opportunity before discontinuing his air gun discharging at home, a well-kept secret,  the open light bulb on the city light mounted on the pole by his house on the corner of Greenly Drive and Shone Ave would now have to be replaced.

Street light on the corner of Greenly Dr. & Shone Ave

  One morning Mike asked Babe his younger neighbor if he wanted to go across Mountain Blvd and shoot targets.  Babe accepting the invitation, the boys headed down Shone, Mike noticing his sister Nancy lingering behind the two.  His younger sister sometimes would accompany him, so he motioned for her to join the two.  Once on the hillside there was plenty of targets , all stationary and readily accessible for judging their shooting  expertise.   Mike knew but better but committed an error in judgement taking aim at a target he didn’t expect to hit, but  did,  his subject dropping from the limb in a tree to the ground.   It was a feeling that he had never experienced before, one of remorse and shame and compounded by his act having been witnessed by others.   Mother Nature’s innocent portrayer of song, a beautiful blue bird was dead.  Solemnly he dug a hole and place the small feather-one in the ground as the others watched in silence.  He vowed to himself,  never to repeat this exploit of despotism on God’s innocuous creations without purpose.

God’s innocuous creation

Young Michael Willson discovered like most youth’s that the adventure in life is about the journey not the destination, that  tomorrow only comes once and  yesterday is gone forever.


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