Saturday, March 12, 2016


Shane (1953) Movie and Pictures on Pinterest

I was 7 years old when the movie Shane came to our local small town theater. A story of a retired gun fighter, a young boy and guns in the old west. The relationship between Shane and the young boy in the movie is paramount in the story line.

Mom and dad took me to a weekend matinee of Shane. And the story grabbed my 7 year old heart and imagination. Good guys, bad guys and cowboys. The story easily fit into my home surroundings and the back hills I roamed then. Lots of places to hide as a good guy and pretend of bad guys behind every rock, tree and bush.

I begged my parents to stop at the local five and dime as we left the theater. I so wanted a holster and six shooter cap gun. After seeing that movie, there was no doubt in my mind, that the hills behind our house needed a young hero to keep everything on the up and up. I begged and pleaded and my folks gave in. I walked out of the five and dime wearing a new six shooter cap gun with holster and belt. And in the spring and summer months that followed that afternoon matinee, I did indeed clear out all of the menace that lurked in those back woods. I never lost a fight. I was Shane!!

Several years later father purchased a BB gun for me and the back yard hills were again in need of a good guy with a gun. Rocks, leaves, trees and small brooks were taken on and defeated. More gun safety lessons from my father on loading, unloading, how to carry, aim and shoot accurately. Cowboys and bad guys came and went. The use of a BB gun served me well as I gained respect and understanding of a small rifle and the fun that came with the art of plinking.

Suffice it to say, that kids will be kids. As an early teenager it did not take much stretch of imagination that neighborhood friends and I would soon be setting up rules for BB gun fights. Seemed the natural progression at that time. BB guns were harmless for the most part if not aimed or shot towards another's head. Common sense was used in setting guidelines for BB gun shoot outs. No shots above the shoulders. In fact, we all tended to aim at legs and waists to insure no one would get seriously injured. And the rules worked. BB guns shoot outs only lasted a few minutes at most, as receiving a stinging shot to the leg was often enough for some one to call the event over. We went back to the sticks, trees and rocks as targets.

And when we bored with playing with our BB guns, we picked up a bow and arrow and shot it straight up over our heads and watched the arrows come down near us on the lawn. The falling arrow made a thud sucking sound as it entered the lawn. Maybe a few minutes of playing “stretch” by facing our opponent and throwing our pocket knives near their feet, making them stretch and hold that wider stance. The winner was the one left standing.

There were many things we survived as youngsters growing up. We invented and built the worlds in which we played. We were fortunate to have all the possibilities the outdoors and woodlands could provide our imaginations. And it was good!!

Eventually I graduated to a single shot pellet air rifle. And then the single shot .22 rifle. With each upgrade and as I grew older, all that I learned in the use of guns paid dividends. Guns were nothing to be afraid of. Safe use and practice though those years served me well. Those lessons are at the heart of safe gun practices and the plinking I enjoy today.

But I cannot even imagine what would happen now with many of the activities I enjoyed growing up. We cannot even make a fake gun with our hands without landing on the national evening news. Never mind the outrage at having shot a rubber band from said hand gun. (Every kid in my high school graduating class would be in jail today for all the rubber bands shot in study hall) Any of those back hill BB gun shoot outs would land me and those close to me in some serious hot water with a lengthy paper trail and record today. Yep, times have seriously changed. But even in the movie Shane, the young boy's mother states that guns will not be a part of her young son's life. Shane defends by saying, “.....that a gun is a tool, no better nor worse than an axe, shovel, or any other tool. A gun, he says, is as good or as bad as the man using it...."

Shane pales in comparison today to guns, good guys and bad guys in movies and on TV. Youngsters growing up now, with heads bowed and an electrical device in hand is not growing up with building tools and materials in hand. Being sent outside of the house to play taught us to think, invent, solve and build our worlds. Those young years have served many of us well in life. Our parents were raising thinkers and doers as a by product of being sent outside to play. We came home dirty, with scrapes, cuts and bruises. We were washed, disinfected, bandaged and sent back out the next day.

Much is gained through change and technology; much is also lost.