It was shot heard 'round my world
April 09, 2008
Editor's Note: This column was written several years ago and like he sometimes does, he repeats some of his favorite ones. We hope you enjoy a second read of one of Randy's most memorable stories of growing up. If you would like to comment on his column feel free to contact him at:
It was a story I thought was long dead, although to my surprise my father hadn't forgot at all.
"Come with me, I've got something for you,'' said my father, motioning me towards him. I followed him to the basement of his home which is in central Michigan.
"I'm going to return a gift I gave you over 40 plus years ago. I promised I'd return it someday,'' said my father in a rather ceremonial tone.
Wrestling a couple of boxes aside in the closet, he pulled out an old BB gun.
"Here, I think it's time you had it back,'' my father said smiling.
There is quite a story in this BB gun. I was 8 years old when my father gave me the BB gun as a gift. With it came a lecture on the safety and responsibility required to own such a fine weapon.
Of course, most of the words of advice and instruction went in one ear and out the other. All I could think of was shooting it.
In no time at all, my childhood buddy Jerry Vaughn and I were plinking pop cans off fence posts at 20 paces. We were quite impressed with our shooting abilities. Jerry and I then graduated to glass jars, that is, until our mothers figured out where their canning jars were disappearing to.
Yep, that summer Jerry and I became the Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett of one whole square mile of woods just north of Cedar Lake. We terrorized any creature in the woods that could run, hop or fly.
One day after a hard romp in the woods with Jerry and that trusty overused weapon, I made a mistake that lives on still today. Without checking to make sure it was unloaded, I walked into the house and leaned the gun in the corner, just like every other day that summer.
I sat down to watch my favorite television program, The Lone Ranger, on our brand new color TV set. Color television had just hit the market and was my father's most prized possession.
I was riveted in front of the set as my hero was pinned down behind some rocks by a band of bad guys. It was all very exciting as I recall.
My youngest sister, Pam, toddled by in front of the television with my BB gun in tow.
"Pam give me that gun, it's not a toy, it's a dangerous weapon. Besides, you're a girl!'' I shouted as any older brother would.
I went on to tell my sister how to handle a weapon, and lectured her as Dad had me. Then I began to tell her about my incredible marksmanship. You know, brother-sister stuff, like, "I could shoot the wings off a butterfly at distances greater than a mile.''
Then the biggest mistake of my young life.
"Watch Pam, I bet I could shoot that bad guy on TV and save the life of the Lone Ranger.'' Taking careful aim at the bad guy on TV, I pulled the trigger.
It was a shot, "heard round my world."
Sparks flew, smoke rose to the ceiling.
The unthinkable had happened.
I had forgotten the gun was loaded.
I could have better explained the death of the family cow.
My dad's most prized possession, his brand new color television set, was dead. I had killed it and most likely signed my own death warrant with that one shot. Visions of my dad with steam rolling from each ear, like the meanest bull in the pasture ran through my mind. And since the TV sat smack-dab in the middle of the living room, there was little hope it would go unnoticed.
After the whipping, that was the last time I saw my BB gun until now. My dad says now I've finally matured enough to handle the weapon.
Learning the lessons of life can sometimes be extremely painful, but well learned.
To this day I have never shot another TV.