Nowadays, many folks are afraid to give their kids toy guns to play with. They don’t want to encourage violence. But I’m not a violent guy and playing with toy guns was half my childhood. Of course, I didn’t have many ‘actual’ toy guns. I had pretend toy guns. Other than a cap revolver that was part of a cowboy outfit, the only toy guns I had were ones I either found or made myself from items around the farm. I had a piece of fence post that looked a little like a tommy gun, and a long, straight piece of limb from a Chinaberry tree that I used to represent a musket like Dan’l Boone used to carry. Sometimes I used a pocket knife to improve these pieces’ resemblance to actual weapons.
I even had a kind of armory for all my weapons set up in one of our barns, and I’d go and pick out whichever one was most suited to the type of game I was about to play. My nephews, Terry and John, who were six and seven years younger than me respectively, knew where my armory was but I didn’t often let them play with my “guns.” And then only if I knew about it. I’m sure I was just trying to protect them from growing up to be outlaws.
Apparently, however, Terry didn’t care much for my selfishness. One day I couldn’t find my Chinaberry musket in the armory and began searching all over for it. I finally discovered it broken and lying nearly under the wheel of an old wagon that we had on the farm. I couldn’t figure out how the gun had gotten to its new location, or how the wagon wheel had broken it since this wagon had four flat tires and hadn’t moved in years.
I confronted Terry and John about the broken weapon and found out that Terry had borrowed the gun, broken it, then put it under the wagon wheel in hopes I’d buy the fiction that the wheel had run over it and done the damage. I don’t believe he had thought the whole thing through.