e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,

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My mother, AKA Annie Oakley

Since you enjoyed that story about me and the meat-grinder and the swords, here's an even better one about my mother.   I am not sure of the date (and can't ask her--she's been dead almost 20 years now, but it would've been in the late '30s or early '40s)  but I clearly remember the story.

She and my father were at a bowling alley.  Mother didn't like bowling--she'd had polio as a child and (though she didn't know it then) a twisted spine that cut her height.  Bowling was painful. 

The bowling alley had a shooting gallery, too. It offered a row of targets at different distances.   Mother  wandered in and, enduring the smarmy assumptions and condescensions of the person in charge who called her "little lady," she picked up a weapon and set about demolishing targets, one after the other.  As her perfect score grew, so did the audience.  Behind her, she could hear the amazed (astounded may be more accurate) comments.   (Did I mention that she wore glasses and had started turning gray early?   So envision a 5'3" very slender woman with black hair liberally streaked with silver, wearing glasses...)   IIRC there were ten stations, with x shots to be taken at each.  Somewhere around eight (again, this is my memory of her memory) bets were being made and taken.   At the last station, there was a crackling silence.   She finished with a perfect score, and immediately someone said "How did you DO that?" and she said...(wait for it...)   "I'm from Texas."  

She was offered $100 on the spot to do it again, but decided she'd rather have the legend than the money. 

Much later, when I was seven or eight, she decided to show me some target shooting (until then, her firearms were totally out of my sight, with a prohibition against opening certain drawers.  I was an obedient child and didn't.)    Off we went to the sand dunes of Boca Chica.   There was an old barb-wire fence half buried in sand, with a nice dune behind it, and one on this side.  I was told to sit halfway up the dune behind her.  She put a row of targets on the fenceposts, and blasted away.  And missed.   There was an expression of disgust with self.  I was told to go back over the crest of the dune and wait until called.    I did.  Much firing ensued.   When I was called back, fresh targets were on the fence posts, and her next round of shots neatly holed the center of each one.  "Not enough practice," was her terse explanation. 

Turns out that when my grandfather had the hardware stores, and she was a child and teenager, representatives of Winchester, Remington, and Colt had traveling sharpshooters who would travel around the country giving demos and also tips on sharphooting.   Her Colt Woodsman had been a gift to my grandfather, a very special edition.  At any rate, some of those sharpshooters had stayed with my grandfather and my mother had the benefit of highly expert instruction to add to what she'd learned from my squirrel-hunting great-grandfather and her own father (who was also an excellent shot.) 

Tags: family stuff
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