From Spudnik to Red Ryder

In November of 1954, some interesting things happen in my life.  First, I turned five that October.

Now if you are wondering if there was dinosaurs’ way back then allow me to clarify that point.  They had all died out a few years before my birth,

Any way a little more than a month after my birthday, the Russians sent up a dog into outer space.  His name was Laika.  I couldn’t pronounce it then and I still have trouble forming the sound on my tongue today.

The dog lunched on a spacecraft by the name of Spudnik 2.  I don’t know why but this word sounded weird but at the same time, it was easy to pronounce.

A few days after the dog went into outer space I received a puppy.  It was only normal that I name her Spudnik.  If I could have pronounced Laika this story may have had another title.

By Christmas that year she was big enough to follow me everywhere I went and I was constantly on the move.

That Christmas I received my first BB gun.  It was a small underpowered cheap version of a Daisy.  Still it met my needs.

You are most likely saying that five is too young for such a gun.  You maybe thinking that I would put an eye out with it.

I have stated before that guns and country kids were different from guns and city kids.  You see if a country kid shot his eye out he knew his mother would beat him all the way to the hospital.

Besides if, I had been looking down the barrel when I pulled the trigger I would most likely have missed.

My daddy nailed the top of a Crisco cam to the cloths line post and that was my target.

I wasted several packs of bbs without ever hitting the target.  Out of disgust, I thought just maybe I need a living target so I decide to go on safari.

As I made my way up the trail toward the barn .I spotted a wild Attala County red hen.  I took carefully aim and missed.  I cocked again and held the gun as still as possible.  Again, I missed the dreaded foul.  In fact, to add insult to injury she looked at me said something in chicken language and walked away.

Feeling a little down, I spotted a wild Russian dog just ahead.  I drew a beam on Spudnik’s rump without thinking of the pain that I may leave her.  POP, I missed; in fact, she didn’t even notice that she had been shot at.

A few yards later, I came upon a wild white pig lying in the mud in my dad’s pigpen.  This time I eased up on one of the meanest animals known to humankind.  I steadied myself against the fence post and laid my barrel on the wooden rail.  POP cock, POP cock, POP cock, Pop cock, POP cock, Pop cock.  Yes, I had shot six times.  The closes I had gotten was two foot of her tail.  I saw the mud pop up.  I was aiming directly between the eyes.

I left the pigpen and found Bossy the milk cow.  I had not like her since she had kicked at me while I was pinching her underside earlier that summer,

POP, cock, POP cock.  Two more clean misses.  On the way back down the hill, I turned and shot at the side of the barn.  The first hit the ten roof and rolled down.  The second landed in a cow pile several feet from the wall.

Later that spring I laid the gun down in the driveway in order to play with something else.  My dad came home after dark and ran over it.

When I turned eleven, I received a Daisy Red Ryder for Christmas.

If Spudnik had still been alive, she would still be safe.  One day I spotted a bird in the top of a tree.  I leaned across the hood of my mother’s car and took aim.  I bet I stared for five minutes before finally pulling the trigger.  POP.  One shout and the sparrow fell at my feet.

I was amazed that I had actually killed something.

I started looking the bird over trying to find my entrance hole.  There was nothing.  Not even a feather out of place.

I showed my daddy later that afternoon when he came home.

“Son that bird is so old he most likely just died of natural causes.  You sure didn’t do it with a bb gun.”

When I turned thirteen, I begged and received my daddy’s old 410.  By George, things were better then.  Not much but some.

Sometimes when the stars are out, I look up and think of Spudnik and our wild safaris that always netted me nothing.


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One Comment on “From Spudnik to Red Ryder”

  1. Jerry Clark Says:

    I see I was brought up the same way. My first bb gun was bought at a flea market. It looked like a M1 and you cocked it by pumping the barrel like a shotgun. It was accurate at 5 yards and after gravity took it’s course. Would take to my grandparents in the country and shoot at anything that would move, but not the farm critters. That would have been a beating there. I think about 10 got to use the .22 and shoot chimmeny swips to keep them from making nest in fireplace. Would actural kill a couple and grandmother would have put in the old wild tom cats feed bowl. He sure like them birds. Things sure have changed.

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