Oh Shoots…

Thanks to Max’s efforts we have been introduced to a variety of interesting and attractive gift options to consider for this year’s holiday gift giving.

Today, let’s take a look at a different kind of holiday present. One that is no longer popular but that was once an even bigger deal, if you can believe, than Racing Possums. Really. Hope you get a bang out of it. snorf.

Please, please, please tell me he’s not going to start that tired old “When I was a kid… stuff again.”

When I was a kid, boys especially were fascinated by all things Western. We watched Western movies and TV shows. We played cowboys and Indians Native Americans. We vicariously punched cows even though they had done nothing to deserve an uppercut.

We dreamed of living on a ranch and bringing to hard justice those conniving outlaws who had the temerity to rob banks and insult Miss Kitty. Our spurs jingled and jangled. We tumbled along with the tumbling tumbleweed.

Back when “Straight from Texas” did not refer to gender orientation

Mostly, we loved cap guns that made loud noises and emitted a little smoke when the trigger was pulled and the hammer struck a tiny charge of black powder on the red paper roll. I guarantee you that kids from this era can still recall the distinctive smell of the explosive powder as the small cap was fired.

Roll caps. So much of our allowances went to buy these.

We had six-shooters strapped to our negligible yet swaggering hips. Lever action rifles with iron sights. Perhaps a sly derringer of the type concealed under the vest of a shady gambling man. Of course there were exotic guns like the Winchester 1892 .44-40 that the Rifleman used or Steve McQueen’s famous Mares Leg. Oh yeah, from cross-draw holsters to the deadly Henry sharpshooter rifles, kids in the 60s loved all the many replicas.

Who could forget Steve McQueen’s Mares Leg? Oh…all of you?

The 60s toy guns were typically cast iron and were finely crafted, frequently made by the same companies that made the firearms they were modeled after. Realism was the goal, whether the manufacturer was trying to copy the cowboys’ favorite revolver, a machine gun or even a bazooka.

Along with Rock ‘Em-Sock ‘Em Robots, Chatty Cathy dolls, Mousetrap, Barbie and Etch-a-Sketch, toy guns were a huge gift item at Christmas (and now sell for a lot of money as collectibles.)

All the famous Western TV show stars had signature guns
For those children desiring a bit more firepower. A toy bazooka.

Not so much these days, eh?

I suspect very few toy guns are being given out this holiday season. They’re pretty scarce at the local Walmart and Target, and ever since the big Giraffe at Toys ‘R Us got nailed by poachers, nobody dares ask where the guns are stocked for fear of having the store clerks call Security.

(I briefly considered giving our grandchildren a nice matching set of pearl-handled revolvers just to keep the spirit alive. Then I remembered that, as executor of our estate, their father gets to determine if the AJF and I ultimately end up in a nursing home, on an ice floe, or otherwise. I recalibrated my gift list. But I digress.)

King of the Cowboys, Squinty Roy Rogers says “Classy!”

In any case, the trope of cowboy as archetypical American hero has gone the way of the bison. Today, I think many parents would be horrified to see little Johnny playing outside, hiding behind rocks and – gasp! – shooting at pretend indigenous people with such realistic appearing playthings.

“He should be at Starbucks looking at proud TikTok dance routines like everybody else,” says Karen.

It’s tough to defend the notion of a “toy gun” in these times when school shootings and incidents of kids using guns to harm others seem to be happening all the time. Buy a toy gun? You may as well just buy the little guy a toy syringe and some toy heroin.

In 1989 there was a Federal study of whether police officers can rapidly differentiate toy guns, even those with orange tips as required by law, and real guns when under pressure. When confronted by actors holding toy guns, 96 percent of officers fired at the toy guns. Definitely no bueno. But toy guns are still readily available online.

Typical toy gun of 2021. No mistaking this unless you are a Klingon.

A search for “toy guns” on Amazon yields thousands of results but almost all of the guns are bright and colorful futuristic “blasters” of the type in cartoons. Even when a more realistic option is offered the device is made so as to be easily differentiated from a real weapon. A search for “cap guns” is more problematical and some of the items are frankly too realistic for my taste. Your mileage may vary.

Mildly realistic but obviously toy sized AK47.

Perhaps it’s time for the toy gun to just saddle up and ride into sunset. I don’t know. We didn’t use to have these shootings, at least not on the current scale. Our society has changed so much, so fast it’s hard for an old fool like me to figure out what caused the changes and what happens next.

I’ll always harbor a fondness for the outdoor chases and adventures of my youth, the childhood hero worship of the (largely fictional) stoic cowboy and the hours and hours of fun with my cap guns. I feel a certain wistfulness that the current crop of young’uns will not have the now so socially incorrect experiences that I enjoyed as a little buckaroo.

On the other hand, I’ll never enjoy hanging around Starbucks and watching TikTok dances so maybe it all balances out.

Are you done, DogDad? Because I’m bored and want to watch TikTok.

59 replies

    • I know, right? So many jokes, so little time. I may be a little Rust-y but the Alec (“Killed more People than Omicron”) Baldwin opportunity wasn’t missed. I thought about doing the classic punctuation ones too: Eats, shoots, and leaves. Eats shoots, and leaves. Eats shoots and leaves. But hey a little restraint on my part is good for building character.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. We can still dress the part, though, right? I’d need a slightly larger size than those kids are wearing but they do look good. Is Nudie’s still around? If I ever get back to LA, I want to go back to Nudie’s too. Maybe get a cowgirl shirt like that. Very nice. I’d say something about preferring pistols in pockets, so to speak, but, well, I’m sure it’s a family blog. Too many double meanings, too much fun. i’d better stop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leave it to our correspondent in France to focus on style and fashion! All design, all the time! Nudie’s, alas, is no more having closed its doors in 1994. Mentioning that name was a blast from the past. Nudie Cohn from Kiev, the original rodeo tailor to the stars, the rhinestone cowboy. Nudie’s does live on in the internet and offers products online. You need to search carefully because using the search term “nudies” brings up some, um, interesting results. But here ya go…link to the history and online store for Nudie’s and yes, it’s family level.
      http://www.nudiesrodeotailor.com/new-page-1
      Btw, it was good to see you didn’t go for the old Mae West line. Proud of you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You probably couldn’t find a kid today who would be content with a toy gun. Their dad or older brother or weird uncle has a stash of real guns in the house. Easy pickings!

    When we were young, toy guns were extremely popular. They were considered harmless. Live and learn! Let’s face it, today kids have electronic games out the wazoo where they can kill people and never get off the couch, or out of bed!

    I can’t believe you never mentioned the Lone Ranger and his Native American partner Tonto. Or Gene Autry. Well, maybe old Gene doesn’t fit in this group because he just sang the bad guys to death. He was the Singing Cowboy after all!

    Trust me Tom, you’re not the only old fool who can’t figure out what exactly caused such drastic changes or to even make an educated guess as to what will happen next.

    Me? I’m happy to entertain myself following great blogs like yours! Yep, I’m good to go.

    Murphy sends kisses to Max.
    Ginger

    Liked by 3 people

    • You raise a lot of really good points. One that particularly resonates with me is the issue of comparative violence between the current video games and our old shoot-’em-ups in the back yard and the media of the 60s. Today’s stuff is unbelievably graphic with depictions of violence that are simply horrifying from my perspective because I think (don’t know) that a lot of exposure to really graphic violence in media desensitizes people to violence in general. Our backyard battles ended with a “bang, gotcha” followed by uber-dramatic death scenes that took forever to conclude. Even the TV and movies didn’t show blood or open wounds; the bad guy just grabbed his chest and made his final speech which went on and on.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Caps! I remember those–and that smell! I don’t remember boys having guns so much as I remember taking a rock to those caps to set them off. Kind of like using a microscope and the sun to burn the heck out of whatever bug happened to be crawling on the sidewalk. Good times in Jersey!
    When my boys were small, I was determined that they were not to have toy guns of any sort. But living in the South–huntin’ country–I remember one gun that I quietly confiscated. I was never and have never been a fan.
    Little Max, stay away from TikTok…and Instagram, too. How’s about we read the ingredients on that biscuit box? Be good, little guy. Santa Paws is watching. You and your DogDad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good times! I recall stacking the caps to see how many we could pop with one rock and, yes, I will have to karmically atone someday for the many bugs placed under my magnifying glass. Neither my parents nor my friends’ parents seemed to care about us kids playing with cap guns. It was understood this stuff was all pretend and nobody associated the toy guns with actual anti-social behavior.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ohh the smell of the cap guns! Just think, in 30 years tik tok videos and computers will be obsolete too. And we’ll just keep chugging along! You could dress max up like a cowboy…he’s so cute it wouldn’t matter. Plus we’d get cute max pics!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, that smell was so distinctive even now I can recall it clearly. Sometimes we would scrape the caps to collect the powder and get as much as we could and then set it off like a firecracker. Bunch of little monsters but harmless unless you happened to be an insect or small reptile. Max has a cowboy hat that he wears in the header photo to this silly dog bog, but he could certainly use a six gun although given his size, a one gun would be big enough.

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    • Annie Oakley! Calamity Jane! Sacajawea! Belle Star! If you want to read an interesting true life history of a most unusual “Cowgirl” search Mary Fields. I can’t imagine how Hollywood has missed making a movie about her.

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  5. Ahh, Mouse Trap…now THERE was a game. It should have prepared me for the life long war as a homeowner with squirrels. Since the two of us are of a certain cohort, I remember those toy gun and chaps sets my brothers often received. Today’s kids only seem to want the latest digital device so they can walk/make TikTok videos. As kids, we’d be found running around outside getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D…don’cha know, Boomer?

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    • Your bros got guns and chaps but you did not? How could you stand quietly and accept this clear discrimination? There were many famous cowgirls in real life and in the media and I would have thought you’d be one. Calamity Jane comes to mind. Snorf.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Well, you’re still the oldest among all of us so there’s that… :runs and hides:… 😈

          I guess most girls go through the “horse stage.” I know Tolerant Daughter had a mad attachment to a somewhat disreputable looking nag that lived in a field nearby and would go to great effort to give the horse whatever treats…apples, sugar cubes, etc…she could purloin from the house. In her eyes it was a beautiful animal whilst the AJF and I thought of the ALPO company and glue factories every time we saw the horse.

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          • My parents feared for my safety since I was prone to hoisting myself on board and riding around on a strange animal. Then I get thrown by one such horse who objected and I broke my shoulder. I still pined for them but then there were young guys willing to carry my books while I was in a cast. 🐎

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              • I have ridden on my SIL’s horse but opportunities are rare now that she moved to Glenwood. I wasn’t sure how I’d do after years away from it, but the last time I impressed her with my posting at the canter. It all came back to me and felt great. Norman’s not much for cantering and ambling isn’t my idea of a good ride. 😉

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              • I can understand your hsitancy with Norm. Anyway, you’d have to wait while he stops every few feet to check the pee mail. I haven’t ridden in 6 years now, since we moved to SoCal. Maybe I need to visit a dude ranch. Like, whoa dude, totally bitchin’ pony you got there, bro. That kind of dude ranch.

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  6. I had a cap gun…and great fun it was too! Your post brought back the memories of the distinct smell of the powder..,
    Meeting up with the cousins at the farm for holidays, ambushing each other, running wild and not expected to be seen from morning to night. Supplied with sandwiches and taking water from the stream we were self sufficient.
    Except on Sundays when we were cleaned up, put into Sunday best and walked to church for a three hour service, all books bar the Bible and Fox’s Book of Martyrs locked away and no roaming the countryside nomatter how fine it was outside.
    Do these video games have any influence on the mass shootings?
    Keep Max away from whatever Tik tok is…sounds like the countdown of a bomb…

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    • My opinion, often called totally ignorant by others, is that media whether video, film, tv or print has enormous influence on young minds and that continued exposure to good things fosters good minds and vice versa, especially visuals. The cowboy shoot ’em ups were pure fantasy without blood or suffering and everybody knew it was all just playing pretend. The cowboy ethos was the focus not the “action.” Not so with many of the video games I’ve seen and as to film and TV…I simply am aghast what adults allow to be presented to children. I guess that officially qualifies me as leader of the old phart brigade but so be it.

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  7. I’m a lover of Westerns (my Dad laughs when I tell him I watched a NEW episode of The Rifleman. When not watching those I’m on the Prairie, on Walton’s Mountain, or in Mayberry. I still remember cap guns and was proud to receive one when my twin got a doll. I spent 15 years in administration ~8 years at a Middle School~After Columbine you can bet no one in my rural town carried their guns in their pick ups anymore. My Dad bought my sons Red Ryder BB guns (special editions!) and although I’m 1/16th Cherokee and love the Native American culture (more than I could ever explain) I was “chastised” dressing up my son as such when he was little. How about the outdoors? Max~don’t fall into the trap of TikTok! I refuse. Let’s just enjoy your Daddog’s stories! And your cuteness! 🐶

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    • Oh, The Rifleman! I love the beginning of the show where Chuck shoots that gun and squints at me…I mean squints into the camera **heavy sigh** My husband likes that show, and calls me and says, “Your guys on!”

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      • OK, Rifleman gun lore time! The rifle that Lucas McCain used was a Winchester Model 1892 ad in that opening scene he fired it 12 times in 5 seconds! There was a 13th shot that coincided with the end of the opening music but that was dubbed in a soundstage. The rifle itself must have been a time traveler since it was a Winchester 1892 .44-.40 model but the TV show took place in the 1880s. Can you say “anachronistic?” Also, Lucas was ambidextrous. There are a number of rifleman clubs around the country that take Winchester 1894 rifles (successor to Lucas’ version) and modify them so they can play Rifleman with real bullets – check YouTube for examples or maybe not put that in your search history. The Rifleman was a huge TV success along with other same era shows like Bonanza, The Virginian, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and Maverick.

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      • Tee hee! I love it, Lois! What’s not to like about that show? Here’s me around most females I know~Them: “Have you watched the latest Hallmark movie?” Me: Oh yes! The Walton’s was on again and what’s your favorite Western, documentary, or war movie? Cue the strange looks 👀 🙃☺️

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    • To KL Hale: Red Ryder BB guns! I almost mentioned them in this story because I also had one of those and, yes, I was told 1000x to “be careful or you’ll put your eye out with that one day.” In fact I got shot in the hand by my brother once ( a story for another time) and my Dad, a doctor had to dig out the BB which he did at the kitchen table without benefit of any anesthetic because I deserved my punishment for being so careless. My brother got off scot free but I don’t recall how he managed that but he was the favorite, so… I also like Western movies and old western TV shows – “Cheyenne” (1955-1963) was my favorite. Cheyenne Bodie, son of White Cloud, didn’t shoot to kill very often but he could shoot the guns of people’s hands to save the day. During the time of the Waltons I was living in the Marshall Islands and away from TVs so never got hooked. G’night KL…g’night Max.

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      • Ouch on the removal of the bb!! Aw, the favorite brother got away with near murder! Cheyenne ~what a beautiful old show. Death Valley Days and Laramie and for my Dad, any movie with Audie Murphy! I watch Little House on the Prairie. I’m really a lost cause. Living in the Marshall Islands …what an experience. Max, Finn says good night! Good night to you both~ Karla

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  8. Indeed, the aroma of the cap guns remain with us.
    Of course we had ‘The Lone Ranger’ etc to reveal to us the historical wild west.
    We believed this. Like John Wayne films, we understood that turning around, while horse riding, and firing a Colt 45, we could bring down several Indian’s with one shot.
    We also played ‘Japs and Commando’s’ though it was the ‘Chindit’s’ that fought the Japs, and we also shot Germans all day long. No one objected, after all 50 million had died doing all this for real.
    Then in the 60’s someone (women usually) claimed guns encouraged violence!
    Tell that to ex-soldiers dear.
    Plus the reality of the ‘wild west,’ and the desire of us Hippy’s to ‘make love not war’ (actually ‘Make tea not war.’) lessened the desire for guns.
    Clearly however, the USA still loves guns. Far too many Republican right wingers love them and see them as a right. Now in some States it is true there is a need, but in cities? Do you need automatic rifles there? This is laughed at here, even though guns abound in the criminal world, often from war zones. With so many shootings you would think the US had learned, but the GRA (?) disagree.

    Loved that one Max, the aroma of caps is still here.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A number of folk have chastised me for neglecting to mention the Lone Ranger and on reflection they and you are completely right. That show was truly iconic within the western genre if only because a tiny black mask was enough to make everyone wonder “who was that masked man?” instead of saying, “Oh hey, looks like so-and-so wearing a tiny black mask.” You’d have thought his faithful kemosabe would have clued him in. While I limited this story to cowboys and guns, we also fought Nazis as kids but not Japanese which in retrospect is fortunate since I am now held prisoner by one. A prisoner of love doncha know. A discussion of America and guns is waaay beyond the scope of this silly dog blog and no matter how one thinks about the subject it’s probably fair to say we are all gobsmacked hearing that there are more weapons than people in the US. It’s popular for some to blame that condition on the fondness we as children had for cowboys and guns and such but I’m not so sure – too patent an argument for my taste and the topic is too complex and too controversial for Max to care about.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Wait a minute…Mrs. Beasley? You mean the doll that was the kid’s favorite on A Family Affair? In 1971? OK, now you’re pushing the envelope. While few would accuse me of misogynism, mostly because I’m scared, trying to wedge Mrs Measely, er, Beasely into a discussion of manly guns and cowboys and the wild, wild west is just too woke for me and Max. We’re talking gunsmoke and cowpunchin’ and lassos and rodeos. Did Mrs. B have a gun? Ride a horse, even a broomstick horse? No, I think not. Next thing we’ll be hearing how Ken’s pistol was prominent in his pants when he met Barbie.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What? You can’t picture Mrs. Beasley kicking Wild West outlaw butt? Hee hee. Sorry, I didn’t mean to single-handedly hijack a boy’s childhood memory and turn it into my own or a wine event. With two older brothers, this chick was a bit of a tomboy. Guns, cowboy boots, GI Joes, matchbox cars, pogo stick, and Mrs. Beasley of course. In my house, Mrs Beasley did all of those things you mentioned and more.

        I’ve typed and erased half a dozen comebacks regarding Ken and Mrs B, but in between the hysterics and tears of laughter picturing Mrs B lassoing and gagging Barbie and shoving her down the register, and Ken rewarding Mrs B with a big kiss, I’ll just leave it there.

        Thank you for the giggles!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hmmm…Ken and Mrs. B…I smell a daytime drama show on TV. Does Barbie know? Is she just pretending before lowering the kaboom on that faithless, philandering Mattel reject? And what is it that causes all the boys to swoon for Mrs. B? Her cookies. ‘Cause I heard she has some pretty tasty cookies if you know what I mean and I’m sure you do. Look, it’s OK to throw in an off-topic reference, everybody around here seems to do it and since you admit to having had a pogo stick you can run to the front of the class and lead us in song. Sorta like to see Mrs. Beasely on a pogo stick. Hehehe…in a bikini.

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    • Leave it to the Parrott to do some out of date online shopping. But you raise a good point. We call that “inflation.” Can you say “inflation” boys and girls? Sure you can…it comes from spending huge sums of money that you don’t have and incurring debt you can’t repay from cash flow. Good thing we don’t have that anymore, eh? But I digress.

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  9. The Christmas I was 5 years old I asked for Dale Evans cap guns. If I remember correctly it was 2 guns with a double holster. I was a major tomboy. My 3 brothers had cap guns already. My 4 sisters asked for girly things that Christmas…but they were much older than me. I was closer in age to my brothers and tried to keep up with the them and all the boys in the neighborhood.

    Did you ever hit the caps with a rock or a hammer?

    I guess what’s popular on TV has always influenced the toys made and sold.

    We didn’t have many toys and we had to work hard to play…Ha…what I mean by that is we had to really use our imaginations. We, also, spent a lot of time outdoors. My Mom said, “Outside!” a lot…Ha…But, I guess when you’re a mom of 8 kids you would say that. 😀

    Electronic games today leave little to the imagination.

    So much to deal with related to this subject.
    Anyways, (((HUGS)))
    PAT and RUBS to Max!
    PS…There is an interesting show on the History Channel called “The Toys that Built America”.
    PSS…Bullet, the Wonder Dog had nothing on Max or Coops! 😉 😀

    Like

    • Dale could ride, rope, shoot and yet was a tender heart to people and animals. Her real name was Frances Octavia Smith and she was Roy Roger’s third wife. Three times’ a charm. Even as rough and tumble little cowpokes we boys had a lot of respect for Dale Evans, maybe because she was always portrayed as a smart, strong woman who could be relied upon 100% to do the right thing and stand by Roy at all times. Nowadays we don’t see as much of that image as we should.

      Wiki has this to add:
      In her exhibit at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Evans is quoted as follows:

      ‘Cowgirl’ is an attitude really. A pioneer spirit, a special American brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head-on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands; they speak up. They defend things they hold dear.

      About those Dale Evans cap guns: if you want to look at an unreal site for cap gun enthusiasts, check out this webpage that offers over 8,000 models!

      https://www.nicholscapguns.com/

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Sounds like good old-fashioned American fun to me. Every year they show the Christmas Story on marathon, depicting just this. I know plenty of kids in Texas still grow up with BB guns and learn gun safety before they go hunting. But as more and more people go up in suburbs, this happens less frequently. As long as we have a right to bear arms and protect ourselves from a tyrannical government, there’s nothing wrong with the children learning how to use them safely. I imagine kids would be more interested in video game guns at this point and shooting hookers and flipping cars over, been playing cowboys and Indians.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was curious how our Texas correspondent would look on all this nonsense. I’m sure there is a huge attitude difference between those who outside the big cities and those in urban areas. I’d guess Austin is largely an anti-toy gun or any other type of gun place especially after all the Cali folks polluted, I mean, migrated there. I also imagine if you criticized the kids of a rancher out in say, Kingsville or somewhere, for playing with cap or BB guns he’d look at you as if you had steer horns. Anyway, enjoy that blast of summer you just had. Winter is coming…winter is coming.

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  11. My brother used to have a cap gun and throw downs and the noise used to scare me. Worse than fingernails down a blackboard.
    As a parent, I was into no guns or barbies, but relented on Barbie and Nerf guns have been popular.
    Meanwhile, I’m still trying to motivate myself to get out for a walk. I was hoping Geoff would join me but he’s worn himself out working on vehicles. I’ve become such a sloth of late and the sun and beach are calling. None of you peoples in a Northern Winter would understand it. Has she gone mad? Probably!
    It’s a strange world.
    Best wishes,
    Ro

    Liked by 1 person

  12. All of the above … I’m right there with ya. Btw, I adored Roy Rogers … had a Roy Rogers comic book (I probably wasn’t even old enough to be in school yet) that I slept with it under my pillow. And you know what? Somewhere around here I might even still have my old cap gun … looks a bit like Roy’s Shootin’ Iron! I’ll have to look for that thing. I wonder, if I give it a good sniff and held it real close, could I still smell that fabulous smoky smell?? And I’m with ya on the horrendous video games … have said for years there’s a strong connection between those and the uptick in violence. No question in my mind. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh yes, even as a girl, I loved my toy gun my grandma gave me (much to the displeasure of my mother) and also my Chatty Cathy doll, Mousetrap, Barbie and Etch-a-Sketch!

    I would never give a kid a toy gun nowadays. That’s inviting them to get shot by a cop!

    Liked by 1 person

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