Bazookas and Johnny Reb Cannons — Now THOSE Were Boy Toys

I do not “get” children of today.

And by “children of today”, I mean Junior and his Chinese cousins.

And by “today”, I mean 15 years ago.

Because that’s how my mind works.

My point

When Junior and his cousins got together, they invariably started playing with Pokemons or some stupid board game involving 10 billion little figurines, that had to be painted, and came with lots of rules and cards.

And when they played, they were usually quiet.  QUIET!

And there was never bloodshed.  NEVER!

When I was that age, play time involved things that would hurt you. Otherwise, I mean really, what was the point of being a boy?

My personal weapon of choice, when I was maybe 8, was a Johnny Reb Civil War cannon.  It was awesome.

canon 2

Internet photo


I would use it when Steve Madden and I battled in my hallway.  About 10,000 times every day.

Steve was armed with my three-and-a-half-foot-long bazooka.



Internet photo


The bazooka was cooler.  I mean, it looked totally like you were fighting in World War II. Whereas my cannon was Civil War-ish, which was sadly lacking in the cool department.

The cannon was my weapon of choice because of the serious munitions.


canon balls

Internet canon balls

The cannon balls were made of really hard plastic.

You had to load them one at a time, and push them down the barrel with a loader thing that was about as long as a baseball bat.

This awesome design, and the fact that the cannon had a more powerful spring, meant the Johnny Reb made up in raw firepower what it lacked in mobility.

But Steve and the bazooka were the essence of a mobile army.

He could crouch on his belly and slide down my hallway, ducking in and out of bedroom doorways, ripping off bazooka shots at will.  It was way easier to reload the bazooka.

bazooka bombs

Internet bazooka bombs

Technically, he got in a lot more “kill shots”, e.g. when the blue plastic bazooka bombs touched me (rebounds off the wall allowed).

But, and here’s the thing, the bazooka bombs were made of limp plastic.  They did not hurt. You could shoot yourself right in the head at point black range, and it still did not hurt.  (Not that I ever did that.)

In short, the bazooka bombs were lame-o.

But the cannon balls were little mothers.

So when I got it exactly right — I perfectly figured the windage, elevation, Steve’s zigging and zagging, and exactly when he was “storming my fort” — I could catch him right between the eyes.

It sounded like bouncing a cue ball right off a brick wall.  It was beautiful, man.

Steve would never cry.  But if I got him really good, he would yell out loud enough so that his Dad, sitting in our kitchen, would scream:


And my Dad, would immediately yell:


And we would have to go to ground. Dead silent. For about a minute.

At which point we would exchange weapons and begin World War III again.

I seem to recall that a cannon ball did actually draw blood once when Steve — how I hated that guy — shot me right in my big, fat forehead as I was charging his fort.

I think he got me with the perfect ricochet-off-the-bunk-bed shot that he had perfected over many battles.

Which was my point at the top of this blog post.

If there is no risk of loss of life, or at least bloodshed, what is the point of boys playing?

How could any boy prefer painting little, tiny figures to killing your best friend with a Johnny Reb cannon?


Internet photo.

Which was actually on television with this awesome ad!!!

I highly recommend that you watch it.

And after you watch it, you should join me in not understanding today’s kids.


Note:  It’s probably a good thing the cannon got lost.  If I had it when Junior was little, and managed to peg him right between the eyes, I would be dead.




Heh Diddle Diddle … The Cow Jumped Over the Moon

cat and fiddle this oneHeh diddle diddle,

The Cat and the Fiddle,

The Cow jumped over the Moon.

Mr Moon

The little Dog laughed,

To see such sport,

And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.


As you can see, the Cat and the Fiddle are still in good shape. The Moon is a bit like me; worn at both ends.

These wonderful figures adorned my room when I was really little growing up in Norman. I’m not sure where the Fork and the Spoon ran off to. You never know with cutlery.

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10 Ways to Counter a Scary Monday

I am having my morning cup of Joe, and the first headlines I read are:

  • Explosion at Iran Nuke Site
  • Ebola in Spain


So rather than crawl into a ball and hide under the kitchen table, I have decided to do these 10 positive things.

1.  Help someone less fortunate than myself — drop off unwanted clothing at the Salvation Army or Our Lady of Divine Mercy refuge for battered Pacific Island men and women. Here is their story.

2.  Go to the beach — Within half an hour of me, there are some stunningly beautiful beaches which, being way to busy, I forget to enjoy.  Today I will go to one of them and drink in the peace.

Bethells Beach low res

3.  At least 18,000 Aucklanders are still without power, including both sisters-in-law. (A fire knocked out a substation two days ago).  I am going to name things that electricity have “given” me this morning to be grateful for: lights, alarm clock, hot shower, coffee, laptop, printer, heater, radio and telephone.

4. I shall eat a cookie for breakfast because, when in doubt, eat a cookie.

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Cowboys ‘Landry Shift’ Gives Me Goosebumps

I honestly got goosebumps on Sunday thanks to the Dallas Cowboys.

It was like I was transported back in time.

There in front of me, those huge Cowboys’ offensive linemen heard their quarterback yell out “Shift”, and they did it.


Just like back in Tom Landry’s glory days.

It was absolutely the coolest thing I have seen in years and, of course, it brought back so many memories, like …

About 46 years ago, I was a Cleveland Cougar, and I proudly wore No. 30 for a reason.  When our QB handed me the ball, I instantly became Cowboys halfback Dan Reeves, crashing through the defensive line.  I played way bigger than I was, which is why one kid called me a “one-armed tank”.

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There Was — and IS — Nobody Like Betty Pat Gatliff!

betty pat indian coat

Betty Pat and one of her forensic reconstructions.


When I was little, I’d see Betty Pat every Christmas Eve at Aunt Mackie’s.

I have no idea how she fit into our family.

As far as I know, she wasn’t actually kin, but she was like a celebrity or something.

Most Christmas Eves, Betty Pat would arrive fashionably late and create such a stir.

She and I would be the only (cool) people dressed in Cowboy gear.

I’d be decked out in my cowboy shirt, jeans, red boots and Fanner Fifty pistols (below).


cowboy shirt

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10 OkieBoomer Memories: Dip-Tops to Sonic Giraffes

diptop cone

In no particular order…

1.  Dip-Tops  —  Back in 1964, the Tastee-Freeze at Main and Berry Road had some kind of magic that allowed them to violate all known laws of physics.  They could “draw” an ice cream cone, turn it upside down, dip it into molten chocolate, and then hand it to you, without anything melting or exploding.  Don’t ask me how they did it.  I was just thrilled beyond measure that they could do it, because it was the best thing in the whole universe.  Fast forward 50 years.   On the way back from having a tumor the size of a baseball removed from his head, my Buddy’s grown son stopped at a Tastee-Freeze to celebrate.  He told the lady, and I quote, “I want the biggest Dip-Top Cone you have ever made in your whole, entire life, and I don’t care what it costs.”   The lady produced a monster Dip-Top Cone and charged him $10. Tradition is an awesome thing, huh?

2.  Dirt Clods — Whatever happened to dirt clods?  I must have thrown 10 billion of them; at trees, at fire hydrants, at Steve Madden and the occasional girl (yes, that got me in big trouble).  Some of the softer dirt clods would disintegrate because of the force of the throw.  Some were so hard that they might as well have been rocks.  The best dirt clods, held together with Bermuda grass roots, would explode on impact, like a snowball made of dirt.  It was a beautiful thing to see.  Where have the dirt clods gone?

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Wacker’s Beats Walmart All to Heck



The world was a better place when Wacker’s, not Walmart, was the place to buy cheap stuff.

Wacker’s was a low-budget store at the corner of Crawford & Comanche in Norman, sort of round the back from Main Street, in the low rent part of town.

It was always busy. You had to park along the street, because there was hardly ever any room in the cramped parking lot out back.

Wacker’s held about as much stock as a store three times its size. It had started in the Depression, and the Wacker’s Sales Ladies stuffed it to the gills to get maximum return on every square inch of shelf space.

The aisles were just barely wide enough for two people to pass, if they’d turn sideways and say “S’cuse me” as they brushed past each other.

They say the Wacker’s building was originally home to a grocery store and a bank, which explains why a vault with 10-inch concrete walls was used as the layaway room.

Ironically, despite the bank vault, I bet the owners never spent a dollar on repairs or remodeling.  When you walked from one cluttered room into another, the tile floor would drop down a couple of inches and literally groan under your weight.

Fire Sale  

Wacker’s could sell their goods so cheap because they bought them from businesses that had recently gone bankrupt or were actually on fire at the time.

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