THE PERIOD FROM 1950 TO ABOUT1965
Chapter 1. In the beginning was the gun.
Guns had always held a fascination for me. From my earliest memories the heroes I saw in my comics and my imagination usually toted guns of some description.
The second world war had not long ended and as a toddler I took part in the victory celebrations in our street. My parents recalled me singing 'Tula lula lula (its an Irish lullaby)' over the loud speaker on top of a van to our revelling neighbours. I remember the day for the party cakes and in particular being given some cardboard soldiers to play with. I happily sat on the pavement outside our house playing with these while my parents danced and celebrated with the other ecstatic families now that peace had been won.
Tom Mix, Hopalong Cassidy, The Cisco Kid and immaculately dressed Roy Rogers filled my thoughts. I did not regard guns as evil, they were silver plated talismans that made villains conveniently run away, put up their hands or just fall down and cease their evil doings. If it was 'Hoppy' who caught them he would shoot the gun out of their hand and an uppercut would lay them out cold.
My first guns were home made affairs from scraps of wood with a nail for a trigger. I developed a rifle noise that was the envy of my friends as we did battle in the streets and alleys around our neighbourhood. We struck all the stances and imitated all the moves of our 'Saturday morning pictures' heroes. To be killed only meant lying on the floor in a convincingly dead posture for as long as it took to count to fifty, after which you could get up and resume the game.
In our garden games we were all goodies shooting imaginary baddies. If we were shot it was always in the shoulder and healed within seconds.
At bedtime I would lay practising my ricochet noises lost in a world of the tumble weed in Arizona.
As the summer sun sent its last rays slanting through my bedroom window I would gaze at the shadow that my toy pistol cast on the wall. How real it looked. With that image on my inner eye, I drifted into dreams of heroism protecting the weak from unspeakable villainy.
- Tony Sheppard