Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Early History With Guns

The first picture of me holding a gun and aiming it is when I am eight or nine. The gun I'm holding in the picture is my mother's Luger pistol, a spoil of war my biological father brought back from his adventures in World War II. I am a thin, long legged girl with shoulder length hair. The picture was taken at the city dump in Willamina, Oregon, in the summer. My new dad and I are out of school and shooting rats at the dump. He leans against our ugly green station wagon, a cigarette dangles from his lips, and when he isn't aiming a camera at me, he is holding a bottle of beer. I'm a good shot by then, but I don't remember when I held this gun for the first time. It has a fierce little kick that I have learned to control. I am standing there facing my dad with the gun held in my right hand, arm extended, head turned to the right, shot by the camera in profile, squinting slightly as I aim. My left arm hangs so nonchalantly at my side. I have very good posture. I'm wearing shorts, a camp shirt, and have espadrilles on my feet. It would have been so easy to swing that gun in a quarter arc and shoot my daddy dead. I remember thinking the thought, and then letting it go. And to this day I think it was an opportunity lost. I would have many more such opportunities as I grew older. But then as I grew older the penalties for me would have gotten so much worse. I learned that there were always consequences for me, just never for the adults in my life.

My father took me quail hunting, pheasant hunting, duck hunting, deer hunting. I was a fine shot with a .22 caliber rifle. But on most hunting trips I was the human equivalent of a hunting dog. Flush 'em and fetch 'em. When we spent part of our summers at my grandfather's cabin up Mt Aire, We went porcupine hunting. That's when I got to fire the .22 for real and I was a damn fine shot. So was my mother. On dull days at the cabin, we would take target practice with tin cans. I was always fiercely competitive. Whatever I set my mind to, I got good at.

Later, in my teens, guys trying to impress me would take me shooting, and were always shocked that I could handle a gun as well as they, and was almost always a better shot. Such is the cocky chauvinism of boys.


Bubs said...

What a great story. I'd love to see that picture. I've always thought it was good for a dad to teach his daughter to shoot.

My youngest has refused to learn how to shoot, but my bride and my eldest are both good shots. We've never shot rats at a dump though.

Anita said...

yes, you should post the picture on the blog, it would cool to see!

it's such a non-gun culture here. i work with a guy from washington state, and he always tells me about how in the summer he and his kids and his wife hang out in the back yard shooting stuff. when he first told me about that i was really shocked that people used guns for plain old enjoyment. he looked at me like i was a crazy person, or, maybe, just a crazy east-coast liberal, i don't know.

i am not against guns per se. i just don't understand the reasons why your typical average person would want or need one. i guess it is how you grow up. i don't know.

BUT it's always nice to hear a story about a young girl (or woman) being better at something that boys are "supposed" to be better at !!!

Utah Savage said...

I have a friend with a scanner. I'll try to talk her into scanning some of the better, more interesting photos of my weird childhood. This one is definitely one of the stranger ones.

Randal Graves said...

The only time I ever fired a gun was when I was in the boy scouts.

*pauses for the inevitable flood of jokes*

Other than that, I've never been around guns nor had an interest in them. But my gender will always be better at war, so nyah nyah nyah!


DivaJood said...

Terrific story. Cocky chauvinism indeed. I learned to shoot when I was at overnight camp in Winter, Wisconsin, at Camp Chickagamee. And, I don't much like guns any longer.

Found your blog off of D.K. Raed's, and will be blog rolling you.

Liquid said...


You know I attatched myself to this story as it read itself into my daily grind.

I do not travel, anywhere, without my 270 rifle.......guess that makes me a cocky bitch.

{{{{{{yeah, I am}}}}}}}

this post, like many others of yours, lends me to feel and think, we just might be related, on some level.

I adore your memory and your ability to post.

Thank you..........Utah Savage........thank you!!!

D.K. Raed said...

Yikes, I guess I am a gun pussy. I can't even get close to one without wondering what would happen if .... (maybe I have too good an imagination?). If I ever have to kill something to eat, that's the day I turn vegan (how fitting since I was born in vegas). But I do admire being better at something than the guys. That's why I took up kung-fu which looked so much like dancing to me, I thought I would easily out fu the f*cks. Nope, I ended up giving out awards in some slinky gown.

You don't need a scanner to post an old picture! I did it with some old kung-fu shots a few months ago. All you need is a digital camera. Lay out the old photos on a neutral background, set the camera on the close-up lens, stand about 2-ft above the photos, zoom in til the photo takes up the whole display & shoot. Take a few & edit for color or sepia-tint (my fave for old photos), crop out the edges & voila! you can post those photos into your blog. they will be almost as good as the original pic.

Utah Savage said...

A young woman with courage and conviction. I like that in the young. And enthusiasm for my writing. Ya. I like that. If you don't want to explore the ways in which we might be related in such a public place, contact me through email. Or leave me comments on the Novel--almost nobody but the very bravest read the chapters of the novel. Scarlet has read a bit. Faded has read a bit, but yet to leave a comment. No messy open comment thread there. Same with the short stories.

Anita, I have torn this place apart today looking for the brownie camera shot of me with a Luger in my hand aiming at the wrong rat. Also missing are the ones of me smoking when I was a kid. But when I moved into the little house I left many things in the attic of the bigger house. Sadly the big house attic and crawl spaces were invaded with squirrels. Any bits of paper, books, photos, paintings, shoes, clothes, all the insulation in the house was made into squirrels nests. I have hauled hundreds of pounds of walnuts from these places and all nesting crapola, but it was years before I was able to keep them out. Still, every Autumn I hold my breath that they haven't found a new way to destroy the house. Still, I haven't given up hoe that I tucked them away somewhere here. Probably someplace really safe, especially from me.

Utah Savage said...

Red headed woman, You give very good advise, and you are a great read. I love your site. You probably have a real life, unlike me who spends most of the day flitting from site to site, reading everybody. My only complaint with any of you is that you don't post often enough. I'm not real crazy about video clips for actually saying something about why. It means I have to load up the thing and then replay it. Often it's music I can' quite relate to. Being all old and such. I know there is modern music I like, but i can't remember who it is and what the song was. Mostly I love jazz, and how often do you get to see of video of Charlie Parker, or Miles Davis?

Ghost Dansing said...

gun play usgglyo

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

I wish I could give those porcupines a gun, even things up a little bit.

D.K. Raed said...

UT, I have as real a life as anybody, I guess. I may not post too often, but I always read everything & try to respond. Just so you don't think you're yelling into the wind. I agree about too frequent use of videos instead of actually saying something. I always want to know WHY a vid was selected, what does it mean to the poster, does it illustrate something I'm interested in, or will it just assault my ears.

Naj said...

I grew up in Iran; in a place that is very much like Texas; except that it has a few thousand years of history of inhabition.

I always feel some sympathy for the NRA lobby, fighting their rights to their guns.

There is something romantic about them. I have held a rifle; and have shot it at some barrel; and have watched my cousins shoot birds and BBQ them, and I have watched them eat the pray in pleasure with me staring in disdain; but I still associate guns with romanticism.

Maybe it is the story of Amazons ... your story, real or fiction, makes me think of that ...