Traverse City Record-Eagle

Northern Living

February 24, 2013

Ed Hungness: Lesson in personal responsibility

After writing for the Record Eagle for six years, my readers know that I frequently muse on subjects of a reflective nature. When writing about life’s memory-making experiences, a message sometimes sneaks into the tale.

Several years ago, I wrote an article about my all-time favorite Christmas gift, a Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun. Every boy I knew had one. Usually they were purchased by fathers, but feared by mothers who authored the warning: “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Back in the 1950s, dads hunted to provide meat for their families and the BB gun was a way of introducing their sons to the sport.

My father set up tin cans on a cardboard box in the back yard and taught me how to shoot. He also schooled me in gun safety and how to oil and properly care for my rifle. He warned me to never point it, whether empty or loaded, at anything that I didn’t intend to shoot. I can remember him saying that my new privilege was not a toy and that I must think before I pull the trigger.

Those were good words to live by and I can still hear him saying them to this day. But as the old saying goes, “Boys will be boys.” I practiced shooting tin cans and after many weeks and packs of BBs, began to get bored with just plinking cans. For new excitement, I shot at glass bottles and enjoyed seeing them shatter as I honed my accuracy.

One summer day, lacking any interesting targets, I gazed over at our neighbor’s garage. The side facing our yard had a window containing four small glass panes glistening in the summer sun. From my vantage point, I could see that the one in the lower left corner was cracked. I don’t know what came over me. Somehow I rationalized that since it was already cracked, I could get away with breaking it and nobody would suspect me.

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