Slingshot revenge

I have been shot in the butt with a BB gun, Hit in the elbow with a hard dirt clog, struck in the eye with a pine cone, and smashed in the face with a snowball. I want even discuss what I have had thrown at me in the barn.

Still of all the things that people have attempted to take me out with I must say the Chinaberry was the most painful.

Chinaberries came from a Chinaberry tree. They were the size of small marbles and when dry just as hard.

You would often start at the Chinaberry tree to build your weapon of destruction. The Chinaberry tree was a gnarly tough tree crossed with a bush.

I believe if a tornado had came through and blew your house away along with any shade trees you could still find your home place. That is because the China Berry Tree would still be standing.

The idea was to sneak in the kitchen and find a biggest butcher knife you could. It would take all day to try to cut out a sling shot with a pocketknife.

Then you climbed around on the Chinaberry tree hoping it wouldn’t break with you until you found the perfect limb. This would be a branch that forked with two small branches about the same size.

If you made it this for without stabbing yourself with the knife you chopped off the branch and then threw the knife down. You did all this while hoping your mother didn’t walk around the corner and find you with her butcher knife.

You would then trim the handle and forks to resemble as close as possible an Y.

Next, you had to find an old inter tube. This could take another hour or so. No one ever said slingshots came easy. (By the way, boys’ back then called them slangshots) Once you found the inter tube you cut two 10 inch by a half ½ wide strips.

Now the hard part came in. You had to have a piece of leather. Not just any piece would do. The best was the top of two tongues from a pair of work boots.

This meant a trip to the dump down the road. This might take most of the afternoon. You have to understand when a boy starts digging through house hold trash he might run across a hundred things that need to be looked at and examined closer.

Often, before I found my leather I had a tidy stack of other treasures piled up.

A little string, sneak the knife back in the kitchen and you were ready to go.

It was always best to fill every pocket with Chinaberries.

The hunt was on. You might start by trying to shut a bird or a squirrel. If you had no luck, which I never did, there was always a street light to aim at. These were higher than my arm was strong.

Finally, you found the ultimate animal. Another human being. Preferably a friend that had caught you earlier in the summer by surprised and had tried his level best to blind you for life.

I can’t express the excitement of saying, “Surprise.”

The victim’s mouth is gapping open and he seems to be frozen in place watching the Chinaberry speed in his direction. Knowing there is nothing he can do to prevent the pain that will soon rack his body.

Yes for a ten-year-old boy there are many pleasures in life. Still none seem to be as wonderful as revenge.

I have attached a picture to give you an idea what a slingshot might look like. I don’t remember any of mine looking this professional though. Still they were deadly in the hands of a kid out to find a little revenge.



When I was growing up, I was involved in ever kind of war a kid could get in.

Explore posts in the same categories: Growing up, March 2009

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12 Comments on “Slingshot revenge”

  1. Deanna Says:

    I had older cousins who thought we girls were wonderful targets of their chinaberries. When they ran out of those they would use crab apples. I think I still have scars… mental and physical.

  2. gary Simmons Says:

    I didn’t know if any one had ever heard of a Chinaberry. I am glad you commented.

    By the way I have been on both ends of a crab apple fight. I to carry the scares of proof.

    You couldn’t shut them but you could throw one like a baseball.

  3. F. Robinson Says:

    I grew up out in Conyers,GA, and was lucky enough that we had two, giant, Chinaberry trees in our yard.

    I had a treehouse in one of them, the other had a porch swing hanging from the limbs.

    We would go to the river and find a “poplar” tree, cut off a brance about and inch in diameter, and about 8″ long. The center of these branches was a pithy material which was easily removed, leaving the stick hollow.

    Then, you would whittle out a “plunger” that would be about 12 inches long, and fit snuggly into the poplar stock.

    Now, if you were lucky, the hollow portion of the poplar would wind up about the same diameter as your average green chinaberry.

    You put the first one in, and push it into the tube with the plunger you carved, all the way to the other end, but not all the way out (part of the plunger was a handle, leaving only about 7 inchs that actually plunged).

    Anyway, you would then put the 2nd chinaberry in…pushed it in about 4 inches…now this would form an air pocket between this chinaberry and the first one you put in…then a quick push all the way with the plunger and you would get a loud “pop”, and the first chinaberry became a projectile, almost as fast as a slingshot.

    We called them “chinaberry pop guns”…they were highly coveted as sometimes you’d have to get 4 or 5 poplar limbs until you got just the right size.

    Chinaberry trees were always a source for fun. When we were little, playing with toy trucks, the chinaberrys would be our load of “pretend watermelons”.

    When playing “cowboys”, we would get a green chinaberry limb about 6 feet long, tie a string “bridle” to one end, and that would be our “horse”.

    Every boy had a penknife back then, and carving designs in the bark of green chinaberry limbs was a favorite pastime when you were bored.

    My last chinaberry anecdote, and only claim to fame was, I came home from school one day and there was a girl in my treehouse in my chinaberry tree. I was only about 10, and didn’t want an ol’ girl up there, so I ran her out.
    This girl was visiting some new neighbors we had next door,and I didn’t know who she was, but she was dressed like tomboy, with pigtails, and boy was she feisty.

    Anyway, I ran her home…as I approached our back door my Mother met me there and asked, “Do you know who you just ran out of your tree house?”. I said something like, “Naw, some ol’ girl from next door.”.

    My Mother replied, “No, that was Brenda Lee.”
    I knew Breanda Lee from having seen her on local TV for a long time, but I didn’t recognize her that day. She was visiting some family relatives next door.

    See, if I had just been nicer, I might have wound up being “Mr. Lee.”.

    Anyway, those are my chinaberry tales.

    • leland Says:

      I’m from North Florida and we had “china berries” as well. We made Pop Guns as you did, but we used reeds (bamboo) as our delivery tool. Times then were definately different than now. We had to take care our selves for our entertainment. Iwill say the hardest part was whittling the broom stick down to fit and we used raw berries that did not require any lubricant. The results were the same and the whelts were possible from as much as thirty feet. Ever make a thread spool tractor?

      • gary Simmons Says:

        Yes, we would race them and make little tracks with hills and cliffs. I often think that a imagination is a terrible thing to waste. Yet today we see our children setting at computers for hours at a time.

        Who am I to talk. Here I set. lol

  4. Jerry Clark Says:

    Yes the chinaberry is one of the best ammunitions of a sling shot. My grand mother had a hugh chinaberry tree that we build a tree house, which we called our fort. Had spent a lot of time in that old tree. If I had a nickel for every chinaberry a touched I would seriously be able to give Donald Trump some competition. This is a great story but the photos don’t look anything like the sling shots I put together. I never could get the perfect “Y”, but we used the old rubber bands.

  5. gary Simmons Says:


    I totally agree. My sling shots never looked any thing like the pictures above. Of course when you are using a butcher knife and old enter tubes it most likely want.

    You know something else odd. I can’t remember the last time I saw a China Berry Tree.

  6. Ronny Wheeler Says:

    I grew up on an Army Base back in the 50’s. We were all at about the same financial level in our homes (apartments). No one could afford some of those store-bought toys. We had to make our own.
    Our base was well blessed with China Berry trees. When I arrived there, boys were one stage beyond slingshots and were using a crude shaped China Berry gun. It was a carved item that was roughly shaped like a pistol. It had a rubber strip that had both ends secured at the barrel end of the gun to form a loop. A clothes pin was attached at the end where the hammer of a real gun was located. The “shooter” put his China Berry in the rubber loop and secured it with the clothes pin. When he was ready to let fly, he opened the clothes pin. Pow! Splat! Oww!
    My buddy (Cooney) and I improved this with a gun that looked like a Kentucky long rifle. It had good range and was more accurate. But, it was a single shot and you got smacked upside the head with a green China Berry while loading it. Splat! Oww!
    Next, we perfected the ultimate China Berry gun. It was a double barreled China Berry rifle. It had two of the Kentucky long rifle barrels side by side of a wooden stock. Pow! Splat! Oww!…….Twice.
    We later perfected a dirt clod/mud ball mortar made from a fence post and a bicycle tube. But that is another story.

    Ronny Wheeler
    A Bynum Kid

  7. I could not agree with you more

  8. agen poker Says:

    That was communicative post.

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