Still thinking about our visit to my Aunt's house in New Milford the other weekend. She couldn't talk fast enough jumping from one old story to another like a kid running across a stream briefly touching down on expose rocks. "Remember when your Uncle Harold broke your brother Richie's bee bee gun in half when he shot the bird?" "You mean the same uncle who gave us dangerous weapons for birthdays and Xmas like real bows and arrows just like Rambo used to wipe out Vietnam?"
I told her I remembered that story and Uncle Harold should have given Richie a medal--of course I was trying to get her riled up. "Uncle Harold shot a thousand birds". "Yes, but he always ate what he shot." I was thinking about the moral implications of that statement and how it could doom Quakerism, but decided it would be more fun just to cause trouble. It was summertime when kids released on parole from school try to destroy the natural world. We had a shiny brand new bee bee gun aching to spew destruction, but what to use it on? My brother leaned out of my second floor bedroom on South Chestnut Street in Beacon, N.Y. scanning for a victim. Nothing in our backyard, but over the fence of lilac bushes in the Nelson's domain was a birdbath with one thirsty bird perched on the rim.It was an impossible 30 yard shot on a windy day. "I need to adjust for the wind and being up so high" He pulled the trigger and and down went the bird face down in the birdbath. We knew we were in trouble because we had already put some bee bee holes in the Nelson's garage window and had to apologize and replace them. No fun getting picked up by the ears and dragged over to the Nelson's house by my mother. We had to make another apology to the kindly old Nelsons. Mrs.Nelson returned to singing while she pinned her dripping laundry suspended over the brilliant green grass oasis of their tiny kingdom. Mr. Nelson went back to listening to Red Barber narrate Yankee games on Sunday afternoons. My brother and I went back to playing wiffle ball on our side of the lilac fence pretending to be Mickey Mantle imaging how Red would say our names. Eventually, Uncle Harold took back the bee bee gun and broke it in half and we stopped receiving lethal weapons for presents. So the world became safer, but less fun--at least for thirsty robins in the summertime. A few years later Vietnam came along and the world turned a deaf ear to Uncle Harold's maxim for world peace.