Dizzy World of Gunplay in the Eisenhower Era

The Eisenhower era was the setting for the first generation of children to grow up shoulder to shoulder with that one-eyed monster glowing in the corners of living rooms across America.  We baby-boomers were a special lot, you know, pioneering players in that new American frontier.  And while we were busily playing our day-to-day roles in that vast wasteland, we later learned there had been strong-backed women out on the frontier among us– Jean Kerr, Erma Bombeck– dutifully scribbling in their journals, recording the bigger picture of the perils of conquering this new land called Suburbia.

TV captivated much of our attention.  Many of us could probably quote the weekly TV schedule.  Yet TV never held us captive inside.  Our world was still found outside.   But the one-eyed monster did whisper inspiration for outdoor play.  Crime dramas gave us plots, Our Gang comedies gave us impetus.

My neighborhood had concrete sidewalks on each side of the street.  These became our highways when we played our versions of Highway Patrol or Dragnet, with bikes and trikes doubling as squad cars and getaway cars.  Our curbside performances were legendary.  One neighborhood girl, Gail, was enamored with the role of the drunken gun moll.  She would wear her rummage-sale dress-up clothes and a smear of purloined lipstick.  She would rapidly spin behind a nearby bush until quite drunken.  At some point, she would stumble toward a parked “squad car,” toting an old discarded black patent leather purse, and start an argument with the “men,” wildly weaving, bellowing and flailing her arms.   Eventually, she’d reach into that purse and pull out a cap pistol!  Then the heat was really on!!!  I was usually the coroner.

Nowadays, Gail is a fine and respected second-generation pharmacist at the helm of the local still-family-owned drug store.

So much for the evils of childhood gun play–

Local Gun Moll Makes Good!


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cindy A
    Jul 08, 2010 @ 16:04:08

    Hi, Winston. I migrated over from Ruth’s blog as I so enjoy your posts. So I figure I’m either a stalker or just someone who appreciates a really entertaining writer. Hope you pen a book with all your musings as it would surely be a good one.


  2. Cindy A
    Jul 09, 2010 @ 12:29:23

    You must read “Growing Up” by Russell Baker. He was older when he wrote it and won a Pulitzer for his humorous cast on serious subjects (like losing his father at a young age and surviving the Great Depression with a single mother). It is my favorite nonfiction book and your writing reminds me of Baker’s style. The two-aunts-and-the-police story is hysterical!

    I am the only non-retired person in my novel critique group — so it seems to be the past-time of choice for a lot of writers who have more time than they did while caring for children or parents.


  3. DuchessOmnium
    Jul 11, 2010 @ 17:55:01

    I think I was the only child on the street without a television when I was very small. There was much talk about which of the Three Stooges was our favourite. Not wanting to be left out, I piped up that I liked Curly the best, and then was mortified at being found out almost immediately in the discussion that followed. How could I have known that Curly was the bald headed one? I have forgotten almost everything about being 5 years old, but still remember that shame.


    • Winston
      Jul 12, 2010 @ 08:39:56

      Then… might there have been four Stooges– oops!

      With Moe, Larry and Curly serving as catalysts to shame, I imagine, understandably, they don’t rank high on your list of entertainers.
      Gee, Duchess, I wish you retained more adventures of being 5, to pull that solitary memory into a more comfortable perspective.


  4. Ruth Pennebaker
    Jul 14, 2010 @ 16:38:38

    A young girl playing a drunk? These days, she’d be herded into therapy till she turned 21. What a wonderful story.


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