We all had one and used them to shoot birds in the cherry tree, tin cans, bottles…and each other. There were many fights in New Haven with those Red Ryder B-B guns.
One took place in a field of sagebrush just below Pine Knob around 1950. Hugh Louis and I, lying low in a gulley, were being surrounded by some other boys when he just decided our only hope was to break out in a bold escape. He raised up suddenly and charged forward, shooting as he went. His target, an unlucky kid about my age, took a B-B right between the eyes. That scared us a bit and ended the war that day.
Lee Greenwell, of course, had the best B-B gun in town. It was a pump gun, much more powerful than the lever action models we ordinary kids had. You didn’t want to get hit by a shot from that gun.
Sometimes in our battles when we captured a kid from the other side, we would confiscate his B-B’s and tell him he had the count of ten to escape. Then we would count 1,2, 9, 10 and start firing at him as he scampered off. This was all in fun. I don’t ever remember any anger involved in our wars; it seems scary now but was just clean fun then.
On another occasion of war, I was in a group opposite the gang that included Bobby. We were in a wooded area below Buzzard’s Roost. I happened to spot Bobby a few yards away drawing down on one of my guys off to the right. Bobby was unaware that I had spotted him. He was covered head to toe with a heavy coat, cap and long pants, the weather being a bit nippy. The only place I could hit him besides his face and inflict any pain was to aim at the back of his right hand. I have regretted it a thousand times since as my marksmanship was good that day and he did indeed wail from the sting.
He suffered another bit of misfortune one day when Daddy got angry at Bobby for shooting a
window or something. Daddy seized Bobby’s B-B gun and with a wild swing, wrapped it around
the apple tree in the back yard.
My dear brother got the raw end of many a deal in those days and I was as much to blame as
anyone for it.