Guns in the House
I know that many people are against guns. I’m not. I think they are a necessary part of the American society and culture. Here are a few vignettes that make one feel otherwise…
Dateline 1969 (or there abouts)
My dad is a shift worker at a local refinery. He (like myself) gets grumpy with little sleep and/or little food. Unfortunately, the house my parents lived in was not what we would call ‘quality’. Also… there were mice. Dad had just come off of a long run of the graveyard shift (from 10PM to 6AM) and was tired, grumpy and wanted nothing more than to sleep. But… there were these mice.
He was POed. A normal man might have called an exterminator. A less wealthy man might have set traps and/or poison. Not my dad, no sir. He decided (probably in a fit of sleep-deprived madness) to take… somewhat more… direct action. He loaded a .22 revolver and, while lying in bed, began a systematic recon by fire.
Let me explain. Recon by fire is a term used (perhaps invented) in the jungles of Vietnam. Instead of sending in soldiers to investigate potential hiding spots. The army would just call artillery fire on anything that looked vaguely threatening. It might not have done any good, but it made everyone feel better.
So dad punched many, many 1/4 inch holes in the ceiling (and roof) of his bedroom. That room was never water-tight again. However, we believe that he scared the mice into surrender.
Vignette: the second circa, the same time
Dad was bored. You know how many stories open with such famous phrases as
- Once upon a time
- In the old days
- Dude, hold my beer and watch this
I submit that Dad being bored is possibly the most dangerous condition to occur in the known universe. Fortunately for mankind, he gets bored a lot and we get funny stories. Unfortunately for him, many of the stories end with trips to the hospital. This one doesn’t, though it was a near thing when mom found out about it.
So dad was bored, his friend Andy was over, and mom was gone. To quote… well me, “This can only end badly.” It was a crummy day, raining like it can only rain in SE Texas. For those of you not from SE Texas, let me explain. When have many words for rain, much like the Eskimos have many words for snow. A brief vocabulary list follows. But this was what is referred to as a ‘Frog Choker’. We’re talking 1-2 inches of rain per hour for ten to twelve hours.
The boys plan had been to go shooting that afternoon. Mainly to use up some of the excess amounts of cartridges that they has produced recently. [Yes, the loaded their own ammunition, scary isn’t it?] So instead of going to the gun range, dad comes up with an alternate plan. A way to shoot the guns INSIDE the house.
At this point, you should be hiding the small animals and covering the children’s eyes. Yes, I said, “Inside the house.” But how can you shoot a gun inside the house without punching holes in everything? Not that punching holes in the house has bothered him in the past, but he learned his lesson when mom found out about the last adventure… so no actual bullets should be used.
Hmmm… he thinks. I have a big sheet of wax (don’t ask… just don’t ask). I have empty brass (the part of the cartridge that isn’t the bullet) and we have primers (the part that sets off the gun powder). So dad and Andy made a bunch of wax bullets using only primers for power. Then they sat at the dining room table and fired at the kitchen cabinets on the far wall… with wax bullets.
Any lover of candles will tell you that it doesn’t take much for wax to melt. A mild fever will cause wax to melt. These guys were applying temperatures used to set off gunpowder. Needless to say, the wax was mostly molten when it came out of the barrel. [I shudder to think of how hard it was to clean those particular firearms.] The large solid piece must have made a somehow satisfying thunk when it hit or they would have become even more bored and tried to launch the house into orbit. However, much of the wax was molten (perhaps even gaseous) and instead of hitting the nice paper targets stapled (yeah, stapled… I don’t want to talk about it) to the kitchen cabinets, that wax covered the cabinets… and most of the rest of the kitchen in a fine layer of wax.
There was still wax on those cabinets when the house was torn down 30 years later.
The Rain Vocabulary of SE Texas
- mist – there’s obvious water in the air, not fog, but water
- drizzle – a very light rain, mainly good for covering windshields in water
- shower – a light, generally refreshing rain, short in duration
- soaker – a light rain, not so refreshing, long to very long in duration
- rain – moderate amounts of water falling from the sky, visibility is beginning to deteriorate, short duration
- downpour – rain that lasts for quite a while (hours to days)
- storm – a downpour with thunder, lightening, and the odd tornado (very rare). poor visibility
- Blue Northern’ – a fall and winter storm that comes on very quickly. Named for the deep blue the sky becomes just before all hell breaks loose.
- Gulley washer – a storm or blue northern that lasts for more than about 12 hours
- Frog Choker – a downpour, storm or other strong rain that lasts for several days.