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objected with my playing with a six gun at an early age. I couldn’t pull the
trigger early on but would put the barrel in my mouth to chew on while my early
teething was occurring. She named me
Louis but always called me Little Lou.
had a lot of guns around the house for he was the sheriff and he kept the guns
he took off drunken cowboys. There was a
gambler he caught cheating who had a derringer that he brought home, and when I
saw it I claimed it for my own.
So from the
time I was three I had as my most prized possession, “my derringer.”
wait until I was old enough to take it out and fire it. My pa once caught me
putting bullets in it and tanned my hide as well as jarring the earth with that
big voice of his. I feared his pronouncements far more than his giving me the
took the bullets away from me he just put them on the mantel where they could
still be seen. Even with them within my reach I never touched them until one
day much later he took me shooting.
bought me a small caliber six gun which cause me to lose much of my interest in
the derringer. He loaded it (the derringer) and let me see what it was like to
shoot it but I wanted a real gun you carried on your hip and not something you
Pa said I
would be far better off learning to fish than shooting a gun but even after that
he spent more time teaching me to shoot than taking me fishing.
Most of my
early training was spent on learning how not to shoot myself or something else,
like our dog or a pig.
around the house or barn and also nowhere you can’t see where the bullet might
go. By following Pa’s early training by the age of twelve I never either
wounded or killed anything I didn’t intend to. (The thing that happened at the jail didn’t
count). Perhaps I should explain that cause it wasn’t really my fault.
I liked to
spend time at the jail where I would look at the wanted posters and pin a
deputy badge on my shirt. My ma would
swat me for making holes in my shirt but since she didn’t whup me like pa it
was worth the doing of it.
But anyway I
was about six years old and alone in the jail with only one prisoner in the
cells. This supposedly bad man was
saying some bad things to me while I was playing as I always did. I just
ignored most of his talk until he said some nasty things about my ma.
I told him
to take it back but he just said some worst things. I knew he wouldn’t have said
them if my pa was there for Pa would have fixed him where he couldn’t talk. I
would have left, cept Pa said not to stir from the jail till he returned.
I had my
derringer with me and I told the bad man to shut up and I wasn’t going to tell
him again to which he lit in once more with his filthy talk about my ma.
aren’t too clear about what happened next for I was madder than I had ever
I went to
where the prisoner was and pulled out my gun and shot him through the ear while
grazing his cheek. He started cursing me and I parted his hair with the second
While I was reloading he suddenly shut up and when I took aim at his
knee cap he began begging me not to shoot him again. He crawled under the bed
in the cell and continued to beg. I told him to say some more nasty stuff about
my ma as I aimed at his side.
My pa had
come in and heard me goading the bad man telling him to continue to speak against my
ma.Pa took my gun away from me and the
man come out from under the bed and started cursing me.
My pa opened
the cell and checked the man over and punched him in the mouth. When the man
came to Pa said, “Now tell me what you said about my wife?”
The man was
shaking and wet himself. He was begging before but now he was pleading for his
life. Pa gave him a very hard kick in his
rear and told him to leave town and never come back. Oh yes he smashed the
man’s gun hand and said this will keep him from getting his nerve back in case
he finds a bottle.
disturbance was over my pa just stared at me for some time. Since he didn’t say
anything I’m not sure what he was thinking but I think he was evaluating what
had happened and what I had done and what action he should take concerning me.
said it’s time for your supper so you better head home and leave that badge here.
I never thought much about what I had done for it was done in anger but I
determined that no one could talk about my ma the way he did without suffering
wasn’t as rowdy as Dodge City or Coffeyville or some of the
other towns but my pa had to settle a fight now and then. He taught me there were a few things to watch
out for. Most of them were associated
with the saloon.
He said stay
away from the saloon and you will avoid most of the problems of life. Later I
come to understand he was right on that one. He said gambling, drinking, wild women, and
harboring old grudges are the source of most of the beatings and killing in
He said half
of the time some innocent person catches the brunt of the altercations. Since we were not a rail head we didn’t have
the influx of trail herds coming to our town but once a month cowboys get paid
and come to town to blow off steam. On
those times my pa had a couple of part time deputies available. The worst that
usually happens is a fight between two or more drunks where the bartenders
breaks it up with a club he keeps behind the bar.
happened where the damages cost the cow hands to lose three months’ wages to
pay for the damages they caused. No
rancher wants to hear that his hands have made a fool of themselves.
cow towns we had the saloon gals but most card sharks didn’t last but a day or
two at most. My pa couldn’t stand cheats
of any sort and sent them on their way after teaching them a couple of lessons on
honesty. The lessons usually consisted of several days of hard labor with the
proceeds going to the injured party.
planting and harvest times pa was especially alert for any infractions of the
I heard him
say one time; “cheats serve some good purpose.” That was when the harvest
season was over and the prisoners were released. I thought the saloon gals were
pretty but as I grew up I realized it was the makeup that caused them to stand
That and the
fact most of the country women didn’t use anything but a little face powder and
not very often did they do that.
I was around
twelve when I became aware of how ugly some of them were. The saloon owners
would get a fresh crop of them in every so often. Being the sheriff’s kid they all soon knew who
I was and teased me unmercifully. They would say things like; come on up to my
room, I’m so lonely or it’s time for you to become a man.
embarrassed me something awful for I knew what they were hinting at. They kept
it up till I had enough. I went into the saloon and told the one that had been
ragging on me the most and said, “I am ready let’s go.”
saloon became quiet. No one was making a sound till the bar man said. “Alright
kid get out of here now.”
The gal was
ashen white for they all knew what my pa would do to them if it went any
further. He would have run every one of the out of town and smashed the saloon
to pieces. That was the last teasing I
received from the saloon bunch. Once in a while I would see one of them on the
street and they would say; hello Mr. Louie and give a smile as they passed.
Pa told the
town council he was going to quit unless they hired a full time deputy. He
wanted to be at home more than he had been. I think he wanted to spend more
time with my ma. She was a little over thirty and he was under forty so they
were still pretty lively.
often they would tell me to go over and visit a girl near us named Marsha. I
would stay for an hour and then leave. I visited Marsha quite a bit over the
years. Her folks didn’t seem to mind but
whispered to themselves and grinned a lot for some reason. Marsha was a pleasant young girl and we talked
about a lot of things when together. As we grew up our conversation became more
grown up and we talked about stuff that boys usually talked about. As it turned
out she was my best friend for we were comfortable with one another.
When we were
almost finished with high school there were a number of other boys visiting her
and I must admit I didn’t like it. I knew I was destined for college and there
wasn’t anything I could do about taking the next step in our friendship. I
wanted to forget about college but my ma wasn’t having any part of that.
held hands with Marsha but hadn’t really tell her of my deeper feelings for
her. Finally it came to the place where
I couldn’t hold back any longer but whereas we had always been able to talk
about anything I couldn’t get the words to come out.
I managed to
get started and I told her I loved her. I almost choked as the words came out.
After I got my breath I said I wanted to marry her but my future education was
a hurdle to get over.
making it any easier for she just stared at me. “Well say something,” I almost
shouted. She said, “You know you are like a brother and you haven’t kissed me
I said, “That
can change in a second.”
looked at me so I took her and kissed her more times than I could count. She
really looked shocked at that show of emotion.
and said, “You are beginning to seem less like a brother all the time maybe you
should work on it some more.”
afternoon I was a different man. Those repressed feeling once let loose changed
We went to
my house just as my pa came home and we told Ma and Pa we wanted to marry as
soon as we graduated.
as shocked as we thought they would be.
Pa said, “What
I said, “Nothing
has changed about that I will go and get my degree.”
I said, “Marsha
will live here and I will come home when I can for the school isn’t far from
here. Marsha will work in her folks store and I will get me a job near the
Ma said, “What
if she gets in, you know the family way?”
I said, “You
will have a grandchild to love and help care for.”
and said, “Well that will be alright.”
We got a
bigger response out of her folks when we told them of our plans. Her father teased me saying; “I thought we were going to get rid
of you when you went to college.”
married as soon as we finished High school and in my second year at college we
had our first child. We moved to the big city upon my graduation and I got a
good position where I could support my growing family. It was growing by number
and by age.
We go and
see the folks as often as we can. My pa will soon retire from being sheriff and
my ma will be glad of that. She was afraid he would get shot by some drunk but
she under estimated how smart he was.
isn’t what you might call exciting. Some of the stuff I left out would have
juiced it up a bit but I’m glad it was the way it was for who needs all the
disappointment and struggles of people with exciting stories to tell.