Dad gave my Brother (B) his first and only slingshot, but I'm not sure if the occasion was Christmas, birthday or 'just because.'
I say Dad, because I'm sure his decision overrode a veto Mother surely issued. She abhorred anything perceived as violent, apt to injure siblings or any living creature, damage inanimate objects , or initiate nuclear destruction of the world.
Dad gave B instructions in slingshot use and a litany of safety instructions, no doubt supervised by Mother. I remember observing the tutoring.
This slingshot was store-bought, probably Woolworth's, simply styled like homemade ones with traditional "Y" structure and wide rubber band-like slings between the "Y" arms.
Although I'm not sure B's age, I think it was pre-school. I may have been in first grade. In those days 1st grade let out about noon, so Mother still held her Bible story and other reading sessions in the afternoon, plus the obligatory nap which I persistently, consistently, faked, using such time to conjure up my next escapade.
The David and Goliath encounter was a regularly requested Bible story. Often Mother allowed us to select our favorite stories. B's was often David/Goliath; mine was Gideon's army, followed by Joshua and the fall of Jericho. Seems B and me liked weaponry, war and regimentation, like marching around Jericho sounded trumpets, etc. [Maybe this inspired me to abandon a cappella chorus and join the high school marching band; I played piccolo and flute instead of trumpet, but we occasionally shouted as part of our marching routines!]
Although our little brains had not developed the ability to comprehend allegories of good vs. evil, or the Lord's on our side, etc., we quickly grasped the finite details of the stories. Hence, David's sling-shot was fully understood as a lethal weapon.
Play-acting David and Goliath outdoors was a natural extension of our storybook hour and nap. At first I would be Goliath, but one wee stone on the shin cured my desire to be the Great One. Goliath was a braggart, not a wimp. Further B and I knew if we were caught aiming slingshots at anything with a respiratory system meant violent repercussions from both parents.
Since he did not share his toy with me, I made my own slingshot with a tree branch and some rubber bands...a really wimpy slingshot. A small stone was not much of a projectile; it fell with a faint Plop! one foot away. Our parents knew I devised the seemingly harmless slingshot imitation.
B and I had "competitions" to see which slingshot stone went the longest distance. Of course, he won.
We aimed at the side of the brick house, the garage, a playhouse, but contact was a rare event. However, one fateful day one of us connected with a window of our house-not just any window-the window by which Mother sat, reading. It made a small crack in a lower corner--hardly noticeable. OOPS!!!
Mother was a large woman, but she nearly sprinted out the door and horse collared both of us. Mother did not live to know horse collaring is a major NFL penalty these days. B and I might have had grounds for personal injury claims.
Since neither of us knew which stone hit the window, we both received 'paddling,' as it was called at our house. We both were honest--neither of us knew which stone hit the window, and I guess we both were in error for aiming at something of value--except in my 1st grade rational mind the house was not a living, breathing thing. Belatedly I came to realize if Mother was in the house, it became a living, fire-breathing dragon lady with a paddle.
Paddling meant the application of a paint paddle to our derrieres. Dad's lumber and hardware store dispensed free paint paddles with cans of paint sold. Mother wore out two paint paddles on three children before a different kind of discipline was incrementally installed, according to age.
Since she grabbed the paddle before exiting the house, we received "on the spot" discipline. We cried and hollered. B tried to suck it up like a little man; not me. I let the neighborhood know I was being persecuted, in true Biblical fashion--no sparing the rod at our house!
And where was little sister during this fun? She was not a tomboy and probably was demurely, quietly, playing with her dolls. I never learned "demurely, quietly."
The neighborhood fell silent!
Unlike the Biblical story, David and Goliath both were slain with LOUD SPATS accompanied by hollaring and exaggerated sobbing in the Richardson backyard on Elizabeth Drive ('silk stocking row'), then an exclusive subdivision, one sunny week-day afternoon.
[David and Goliath painting by Caravaggio courtesy Wikimedia Commons]
[Other graphics - Internet]
Post Script: Brother received a BB gun as a gift (Christmas or birthday). It was immediately relegated to Dad's gentleman's farm/ranch for use only with Dad, under his supervision, for hunting hen-house bandits and varmints stealing eggs and feed. This was an abysmal hunting failure as most hen-house criminals were snakes. Maybe there was small redeeming value in the companionship of father/son!
No doubt Mother only allowed this gift with this mandate.