We all have loved our grandmas. Some are great cooks. Some can sew and knit. And some, like my great grandma, can do all of those things and more. Her name was Pearl, but we all called her Mama. She married at a young age. Her husband, my great grandpa, was a farmer. His name was Luna, but we all called him Papa. They had a farm in Missouri for many years, before moving here to Colorado.
Papa was about 5'5". Mama was about 5 foot, or maybe a bit shorter. They were wonderful grandparents. They spoiled the you-know-what out of me and my sister. They had a tiny house in the town of Kremmling, with a small frontyard and the backyard was somewhat bigger, with the original homestead cabin. On one side of the cabin, Mama had her garden -- some potatoes, onions, carrots, squash, pumpkins, and a chokecherry bush.
She was really proud of her little garden. My sister and I were happy to help her in the garden. The one thing that really set her off was critters in her garden! Even if it was the cat from down the street, YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE GARDEN! My sister and I got spanked a few times for going into the garden. All we had done was take a carrot or two!
Well, one summer, my sister and I were staying with Mama and Papa. We were waiting to go out to the ranch that our aunt and uncle owned. To pass the time, that trip, I brought along my slingshot. I was pretty good! I could hit a can about every third shot or so. Well, as long as it was a good sized can. Like a number 10 can. And my sister was just about as good a shot as me. That is, when she could take my slingshot away from me.
So, there we were, setting on the back steps, me shooting my sling shot. My sister was wanting to take her turn. I used rocks as ammo. But! -- had just figured out that marbles worked SO much better than the rocks.
We must have shot over a 100 marbles that day. Not a single can or bottle in the neighborhood was safe from us. Mama came out to see what all we were doing and to find out why she didn't have any cans to put grease in.
As she came out the door, she said a dirty word, grabbed my slingshot out of my hands, loaded a marble in it, pulled back, and let it fly! My sister and I had no idea of what in the world she was
shooting at, let alone that she even knew how to use a sling shot.
After she made her first shot, she grabbed another marble and let it fly. We watched as she ran back into the house, then came out with a butcher knife and a big bowl.
She then started towards her little garden as fast as her little legs would carry her. Now, we had never seen Mama run before, and it was quite the sight: butcher knife raised up in one hand and that big old bowl in the other. Her hair net sliding off of her head, her apron sliding down around her hips, one stocking down around an ankle. And this kind of wild look on her face! She ran off around the old cabin to her garden, muttering under her breath about them brazzen little bast***s.
We ran after Mama and caught up with her as she reached her garden. Lying in the garden were two of the biggest rabbits I had ever seen, both of them flat-out dead, one with a parcel piece of carrot in its mouth.
Mama looked at us and said "Rabbit for dinner tonight!" My sister and I just stood there looking at her and them two rabbits. She laughed and said, "Close your mouths -- you're catching flies." We followed her back into the house, never saying a word. We watched as she dressed out the rabbits. We stayed in the house the rest of the day. My sister and I didn't really talk, or do anything. We just kind of sat there and watched Mama.
Later, Papa came home from work. He cleaned himself up and we all sat at the supper table, still watching Mama. Our plates were full, then Papa said grace and they began to eat. My sister and I, on the other hand, just sat and stared at Mama. Papa looked at us, asked if we were hungry, and -- if we were -- why were we not eating.
My sister and I both started to talk at the same time about how Mama had shot TWO rabbits with my slingshot.
Papa started to laugh, and Mama kind of turned red in the face and asked, "Haven't you two ever seen a grown up shoot a slingshot before?" We answered that we had, but we had NEVER seen a grandma shoot one before.
Well that was the wrong thing to say. Her face became even redder, and she kind of puffed herself up. She told us that she grew up shooting a slingshot, and that she helped her dad put food on the table when she was a little girl. She then got up and left the table.
Papa just sat there and tried to keep from laughing more. He told us that he was married to her for over two years before he found out that she was such a marksman with a slingshot. He said he came in one day from plowing and was washing up on the back porch when she came around the corner from the chicken coop carrying a dead raccoon. She had the coon in one hand and a slingshot in the other. He asked her what in the world she was doing, and she said that she was saving the chickens and wanted to know if he liked raccoon.
He told her NO, he didn't want any 'coon. Then he asked where she got that slingshot! She told him she made it herself, and that she and her brother used to make them all the time. Papa said he never knew that she could shoot like that. He had a old single shot .22, but she wouldn't touch it.
My sister and I just sat there, fascinated, and listened to Papa. He told about her chasing some fellow off the front yard with her slingshot. She nailed him several times in the butt. Papa found out later that the fellow she chased off was running for some office, and was making the rounds to get support for himself. Papa said the guy won his race, but never came to their place again.
The next morning, my sister and I got up, ate breakfast, and headed right outside. Mama was on the quiet side and sat there drinking her coffee. After we had been playing for a couple of hours, Mama came outside. She had a slingshot in her hand. It was old, you could tell. And it was a thing to behold. It was shinny, from years of being in someone's hand. You could see the grain of the wood. And it was bigger than my store bought sling shot. Hers had a bigger pouch to hold rocks and such. She had a leather bag in her other hand.
The bands on hers were flat, while mine was the round tube type of band. In that leather bag she had what looked like white and brown marbles. They were the roundest rocks I had ever seen, and some were real marbles. The white and brown ones were handmade marbles from clay. The round rocks, she got from a stream many years ago when she was a child.
Mama sat on the steps with us and we all took turns shooting at cans. She would shoot a tuna can standing on edge from about 20 feet or so, and hit it two more times before it stopped rolling and fell over. AND she could hit a bottle or can tossed up in the air! It was a great afternoon.
We never did make it out to the ranch. We were too busy with Mama, shooting our slingshots. When Papa made it home, he sat and shot also. He couldn't hit anything. But it was fun just the same.
When Mama went in to start supper, my sister and I sat out with Papa, had a Coke, and just kind of sat there. Papa laughed and said, "You know, I'd hate to really make that women mad. The way she can shoot that slingshot, I bet you couldn't get to the end of the street without her peppering your behind a dozen times."
As he got up, he said "Yep. . . don't mess with grandma."
Mama and Papa have long since passed. The memories of them and time spent are still with me and my sister. And that leather bag and slingshot of hers? Well, the last time I saw it, it was in her casket at the viewing, placed there by Papa.