Thursday, May 5, 2011

Candy Cigarettes and Guns for Kids

Yeah, I am getting old(er) so you may hear me say "When I was a kid..." occasionally.

When I was a kid candy cigarettes were popular. The best ones even had a red colored tip so you could better imagine that you were really smoking a cigarette just like mom and dad.

It's really funny how times and people change, not so much individual people but all of us as a culture. Today I wouldn't even consider giving my children candy cigarettes and I doubt there are many parents who would disagree.

Imagine some mother or father standing there smiling, proud and happy. "Aww, look how cute junior is suckin' on that fake candy cigarette." and perhaps their mate replies with, "Oh yes, I can hardly wait to see him learn how to smoke real cigarettes!"

What about all the cool guns? When I was a youngin' we had all sorts of guns to play with. My favorites were the rifles or pistols with a western look but there were also some neat military weapons. Most of them looked pretty realistic and none of them had the big orange tips.
Folks didn't think anything of buying toy guns for their sons and grandsons. We were all playing with toy guns but most of us were also learning to use real rifles, shotguns and pistols.

There were rifles, pistols and shotguns in dads cabinets and some of them were "mine". I wasn't allowed to handle or shoot them without him being present but I did sneak out the high powered rifle and shoot it out the window a few times. However, I had a BB gun and was constantly on the warpath.

We would walk around with those six shooter pistols on our sides and our cigarettes hanging from our mouths. All we needed were some fake tattoos and we would have been just like real grown people! Imagine seeing your son or daughter all decked out with temporary tattoos, armed and with a cigarette in their mouth. You can imagine how proud the parents of the day must have been!

Of course we shot a lot more than just BB guns and cap pistols. Most boys I knew of practiced shooting with their dad or some other family member. Most boys older than 11 or 12 went into the hills with shotgun or rifle on the hunt for some rabbit or squirrel.

Hunting was more than just an attempt to find and kill an animal. It was a bonding between father and son, it was an adventure shared. At the same time it was one of those "you're becoming a man" things. On my 12th birthday I was given a .410 shotgun. Dad explained that this shotgun was mine and that I would be responsible for it. He had "given" me other guns before but I was never allowed direct access to them except for when we were out where we were going to be shooting. I had also had several BB guns by that age. But this was my first actual gun.

Other boys and even many girls had similar experiences. So it was common for the kids to be playing with guns both toy ones and real ones. We saw rifles and shotguns on racks in pickup trucks or even a pistol on the dash. Yet I don't recall hearing about any school shootings. I really wonder why that is.

As a side note that .410 was stolen from me by my own family more than 30 years ago. I really wish I had that back. My first gun. My birthday present...

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