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  • Writer's pictureSteven Cornelius

My Favorite Toy as a Child

Growing up, my siblings and I didn’t have many toys. Sticks became rifles, pinecones were hand grenades, and mud could be sculpted into cool little structures. For instance, we used to make toad houses by packing moist red clay around our feet and then carefully removing our foor leaving a small shelter. Amazingly enough, small frogs and toads often found their way into the little “toad frog houses.” Naturally, we would fish them out of their shelters and playing “frog toss.” First one to drop the frog got whacked on the arm. Before my fifth birthday, one of my cousins gifted me a worn out BB gun; an old Daisy Red Rider, a replica of a 30-30 lever action rifle, just like in the cowboy and indian movies.

It was a shaky old thing and wouldn’t shoot. After a frustrating couple of weeks with a broken BB gun, my dad grew tired of me pestering him, asking “why doesn’t my gun shoot daddy?” and took the gun apart and “fixed it.” I watched him replace worn out seals and a floppy cocking mechanism with all new felt and rubber seals. He handmade the brass cocking mechanism bushing. I was pleased as punch, now all I needed was BB pellets to shoot through the scratched and faded once dark blue BB gun. Back then, you could buy 500 BBs in a clear plastic cylinder for twenty nine cents. I begged and pleaded until momma bought me two of those 500 packs. Now I was armed and dangerous. I wasted no time shooting my older brother Dexter in the butt causing him to yowl like a cat whose tail had been stepped on. He immediately found momma, pulled down his pants to show her the bright red welt I’d given him.

Momma slapped Dexter for dropping his pants in front of everyone, and then confronted me, hands on hips, demanding an explanation. I shrugged and made up the most believable story I could think of on the spur of the moment, “maybe it was a wasp sting.” I received a peach tree switching and lost the BB gun for a week over that little indiscretion. Next time I shot him, I saw him standing under one of our old blackjack oak trees. He made an irresistible target. I aimed for the back of his head, but hit his right ear, causing it to swell and turn beet red. Again, he ran to momma screaming bloody murder. I slipped around the house and hid the BB gun under the porch. Unbelievably, momma bought the wasp sting story that time. She couldn’t believe I was that good a shot. So, now I had to carry that BB gun everywhere I went because I knew Dexter would be waiting to beat the crap out of me, the first chance he got. I think I shot him five or six times before he found where I hid the BB gun and broke it by sticking the barrel in a tree fork, bending and destroying the barrel. Before he broke that BB gun, he suffered. I hid behind trees and shot him at every opportunity. He was twice my size and such a bully that I felt no guilt at all over shooting him in the butt, arms, feet or wherever else I could. As proof, here is a rare shot of me with that BB Gun standing in front of our family car with your aunt Martha. I was about four and a half. She was nine. No memories of the dog. I probably shot it too.

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