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Cliff had a small gun collection. I don’t remember how many weapons were stored in the locked gun cabinet with the glass front. There were three shotguns including a Browning pump action 16 gauge. A .30-.06. A regular .22 and a .22 magnum. Two Winchester .30-.30’s, one with a low serial number meaning it was a collector’s gun. There were other rifles I don’t remember and a couple of pistols. A big silver revolver that looked like it belonged in a Western movie and a snub nosed Smith and Wesson .38 suitable for a private dick. The guns were rarely used but kept oiled and cleaned and beautiful in their own gun-way.

Cliff liked to hunt but worked too much to practice the sport with much regularity. Depending on the season, there might be venison or rabbit in the freezer. Sometimes quail. Occasionally squirrel, my least favorite because the meat is dark and oily. A squirrel is basically a rat with a cute tail.

Speaking of vermin, Cliff and I would sometimes go to the dump which was an open pit filled with refuse – stained mattresses, broken furniture and appliances, tin cans, scraps of food and other garbage. Garbage disposal wasn’t easy and convenient in the country side in those days. We’d sit on a rock or the hood of the car or the back of my uncle’s pick-up truck and use the occasional emerging rat for target practice. A .30-.06 could pretty much disintegrate a rat. I have to admit it was a good time but I had less of a fondness for hunting deer and small edible animals. I had no qualms about eating them however.

As I said, Cliff went hunting rarely and I went with him even less frequently. I was more interested in baseball and books and girls.

Cliff was an N.R.A. member but I never heard mention of the 2nd Amendment or gun rights of any kind or the need to protect ourselves from criminals or an oppressive government. I also never heard of mass shootings at schools and churches and other gatherings. Maybe these things happened back then but, if they did, it was most assuredly with less frequency and media coverage since I don’t remember them at all. Most people weren’t angry and afraid and strident in their  beliefs except for the local Baptist Minister who insisted we were all going to hell but nobody paid him much mind.

Cliff was a trucker and also belonged to the Teamsters. Belonging to a union and the N.R.A. was no contradiction in those days. Cliff was a conservative  who always voted Democrat but behaved like an Eisenhower Republican. In those days the two major political parties had differences in philosophy but shared an interest in governing for the greater good. As a result, the nation experienced the greatest prosperity it ever had or likely ever will. Did I mention that unions were strong and had built a middle class that drove the economic engine with buying power that allowed a truck driver to live a good life, buy a house, drive a good car and help send his son to college? The advantaged, the privileged, the economy elite, the wealthy, however they acquired their wealth, paid very high marginal tax rates and that was viewed as the appropriate order of things.

Bad things had already taken root and would soon fester like an untreated wound. The Vietnam war. The Moral Majority. Supply side/trickle-down economics and a philosophy that greed is good with a sort of resurgent Calvinism that preached that the poor and oppressed were getting exactly what they deserved through God’s will.

Cliff didn’t live long enough to witness the worst of it. And, in a way, I’m grateful for that.

Cliff was my father.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 9, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    This one got to me. Thank you.

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