Gary Justis

Gary Justis
Location
Bloomington, Illinois, US
Birthday
April 04
Bio
Gary Justis has worked primarily in the area of kinetic sculpture for the last 34 years. He lived and worked in Chicago from 1977 to 1999. He currently resides in Bloomington Illinois, where he teaches and writes stories about his actual experiences. (please take a look at his "Sculpture" link for more info)

MY RECENT POSTS

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 3, 2008 4:41PM

Dangerous Toys at the Edge of the World

Rate: 64 Flag


DAD and Sis at Alkatraz

Dad and Jackie (my sis) at Arrow Point , Alcatraz Island, 1949

 

My Dad was a very smart guy. For me, a kid who had a somewhat inflated imagination and the industry to try ideas, he was the perfect dad. In our lives there were many opportunities to try our wits at outthinking the neighbors with one far-fetched adventure to the next. Dad, with his little assistant team made up of my brother and me, would spend a good deal of time trying to best all the folks on the block by cooking up original inventions. Dad was great at displaying a knack for gadgetry that was befuddling to most folks, magic to some, and downright practical to us.

Dad had a knack for mechanical problem solving, and he went headfirst into grand projects whose mysteries held a healthy fascination for many young fathers returning from the Second World War. He invented and built a multi-use, six-wheeled vehicle in the early to middle 60’s….several years before popular plans for a similar type vehicle were published in the standard “Dad Bible” of the day, Popular Science Magazine.

In all his test runs and gadget tryouts, we were fortunate we never suffered any bad injuries, except for a few skinned arms and legs with a smashed finger or two. For all these minor mishaps the three of us had a strict code of silence, lest Mom would swoop down and put a stop to our endless building and experimentation.



When I was 5, I decided I wanted to take a journey on foot to The Edge of the World. I remembered something about a “continental shelf” from some grownups I heard talking at the barbershop in town. I imagined a shelf like the pickle shelves in our basement, only bigger. I could walk to the edge and look out into…………..well, into…that’s what I wanted to find out.

 

My brother was never supportive of my best ideas. With the help of
his confederates, he tried to destroy my confidence.

Falling 150




“Dumb-shit. You can’t walk that far. You have to swim, and then walk over China and Japan. Then what are you gonna do when you fall off the edge?”

I thought for a minute…

“I can take a parachute, or a big umbrella. And I can take my blow-up life saver, ‘cause it can fit small in my bag.”

My brother rolled his eyes and snickered.

“There are big, cruddy monsters that live under the continental shelves. They are so fast, they can burn and eat your guts while you watch… before you die.”

It was not very difficult to scare the crap out of me at this age. I knew it was a risky adventure, and I went to Dad for his thoughts.


“Gare, a trip like that is dangerous. You’re gonna have to eat….maybe hunt for game. You need to take a weapon of some kind.”


Dad always let on like he thought my ideas were good, at least in the first part of every discussion. I know he wanted my imagination to develop un-encumbered by the boring reality of physical laws and popular belief.

“Can I take your gun?” I asked with hesitation and a little fear.

“No Son. We’ll have to make something a kid can shoot. Something that fits your hand. We can make it together. We can make a firecracker gun, like the one I built when I was a kid!”

Dad was always slightly giddy when he found a reason to build something new.


I understood the concept of “firecracker” very well. Every late June and early July, our allowances were spent on “Black Cat” brand firecrackers; endless packs of kid-sized explosives. Hours were spent blowing up empty vegetable cans into the air, assaulting unsuspecting anthills, and finding unending, dangerous ways to channel the power of miniature explosions. Our labors sent smoke and microscopic debris into the trees, and into the lower atmosphere of our neighborhood. We were permanently branded as little outlaws. We carried loose firecrackers in our denim jeans pockets, the leaking “high powered” powder migrating through our pocket fabric until our thighs were stained with the metallic component of the volatile mixture. My brother’s warning that my stained thigh would kill me had been proven wrong several times.

I followed Dad as he went into his shop. He reached into one of his fixture bins and pulled out a steel pipe, about ten inches long, with a one-inch diameter.

“We can use this. With one of your Black Cats we can shoot a ball over two football fields!”

To me, one football field was large, but two! I knew how difficult it was to throw a rock a hundred feet. I understood the potential function, but the image of a weapon was a mystery. Dad explained the physical principal, then described how the weapon might look, making the outline of a gun handle in the air.

“Now Gare, you make me a nice drawing and we can build it.”

“OK Dad.”



Attempts at safety, by children, are usually frustrated by the “exuberance factor” afflicting anyone between the ages of 1-18. I remembered the power and danger of a Black Cat firecracker. One had gone off close to my hand the week before. My fingers were numb for an hour or so, but I knew a single firecracker didn’t have the power to do very much damage, unless, as Dad pointed out, the explosion was controlled and channeled in one direction….the same principal a cannon used.

I worked on a plan for the rest of the day, with a slightly older friend, Jeff, helping me adjust the look of the drawing. I couldn’t wait to go over it with Dad. I had anticipated some dangers with the invention, while ignoring others. There were several concerns I had with my design:


1. It can’t blow my hand off

2. It has to look good (Mom and Dad have to like it)

3. The gun must get me food and protect me on the trip

 

 

Rilly thick pipe copy

 

 

gun guard 2

 

 

aiming 150



My brother examined the drawings before Dad got home.

“You need to shoot something heavy out of the barrel if you’re gonna kill animals to eat, and protect yourself from monsters dumb-shit. What’re you gonna use for ammunition?

I felt a ripple of little kid shame begin to rise.
“A rubber ball.”

“Why?.............It should be a rock, or steely, or a flashlight battery.”
He waited while my panic and little brother inferiority complex took hold of me.



“I,…….I don’t want to hurt anything………”

rubber OK copy 1

“You’re such a good boy.” We turned to see Mom smiling one of those faces that melts steel; the face that dissolves monsters, thieves and all other villains.


Mom had been overhearing the conversation the whole time. She knew so well the vagaries of kid conversation. She understood how our fantastic infatuation with lofty goals where mixtures of fact, fiction, intent and speculation often mitigating ugly failure. She trusted Dad in all things, and certainly trusted him to guide me through some of my roughest ideas to a soft landing.

When Dad came home Mom told him the conversation she had overheard earlier. They talked in low, almost whispery voices. My Dad laughed for almost fifteen minutes, and I thought he might loose his breath and fall to the floor. Mom had to sit down. They laughed in waves, interrupted by two or three word sentences, each causing a glorious eruption of unchecked joy. Their eyes watered and I was afraid for a moment that joy had turned to sadness, but it was exhaustion that caused their howls to fade away.

 

I had always daydreamed about Mom and Dad on Television,
rating my ideas.
Mom & Dad Justis os 2 copy

 


Dad looked at me.

“Gare, come on, lets see those drawings.” He was rubbing his eyes as we sat down. “Uh Huh……..hmmm. Pretty good. Those eye holes got to go. When the firecracker blows up, it could go through those holes and blind you.

“OK… then I couldn’t see if I got the monster.”


There was another wave of laughter,……….. Dad caught himself, snorted, and said,

“Good, I think we can make it safe.” He turned and winked at Mom as we headed out to his workshop.



Dad was so fast when he made things. Even with a workbench piled high with tools and parts, he always seemed to know where everything was. In this instance, he had all the necessary parts laid out. I knew he had already decided the day before how he would build the gun, but I remember not wanting him to have any hint that I knew it. With the level of love I had for my Dad, it felt better if he thought I believed my idea was valuable to him. My brother and I watched Dad’s skilled hands shape the wood, drill the pipe and custom fit the components together. I excused myself to run to the washroom. My brother followed me until we were out of Dad’s earshot.

“Hey dip-shit. Tell Dad to make the eyeholes for your safety guard. Then when you shoot monsters and miss, you’ll be dead and blind!”

I felt a snicker coming, but something inspired me to withhold joy from my brother…at least where this project was concerned.

“Very funny…why don’t you come with me?”

I was sure he wouldn’t even think about it, because we could never get along, or agree on anything, especially when confronted by DANGER. He declined, but for a bizarre reason.

“Remember those cruddy monsters I told you about?”

“Uh-huh”

“Wait here turd-face, I’m gonna show you something.”

He brought out a thin, paper booklet, with large black and white pictures.
“I’ll show you real monsters.”

The thing I saw in the picture looked like a flower,
but with lots of smoke stuff.

 

Bomb




“What is it?”

My brother didn’t answer. He was reading something on a tear-out sheet. I knew at a very young age not to even try to get his attention when he was reading.

“OK, listen. I’ll read this to you. About the explosion.”

“Splosion?” The plant thing in the photo was so strange, like the underwater objects I had seen in aquariums, and on TV. I didn’t think of an explosion….I thought of firecrackers.

“Yeah, it’s a bomb we dropped on Japan. It says here, ‘Our boys really get the Japs running after dropping Little Boy in the heart of Hiroshima.’”

I imagined hordes of people running away from a large firecracker about to go off. I could see waves of people ducking behind cars, telephone poles and big rocks, just in the nick-of-time.

“Was anybody hurt?”

“Yeah dip-shit, about one hundred thousand people died.”

We were both silent for a long time…
“Even Babies?”

“Uh-huh, babies, grownups, dogs, cats, birds,…..all animals, insects,…all living things. See, that’s a real monster, and your stupid little gun won’t work, because you can’t kill it.”

I was puzzled at the breadth of calamity such an event could manufacture in any part of my world. After a minute or two, it was easier to understand my brother’s “monster” metaphor, and it began to make sense how grownups had been talking about digging holes in their yards big enough for their families to climb into if they saw bombs in the sky…coming down through the clouds.

When I returned to Dad’s shop, he was sanding something and I told him I wanted to make the gun, but I was going to postpone my trip. He was still in his “humor Li’l Buddy mode” and he asked why. I handed him the picture and tear sheet. He stopped.

When a parent’s reaction generates changes in the moment, those energies grip the child and move them towards an attentive state of fear. This was a moment where solemnity crept like a dark veil over the empty spaces of the shop. I saw Dad’s face go ashen, his hands dropped, and he stared out the shop window at something in the distance.

After a time, he put his great hand on my tiny shoulder and said,

“I was hoping you wouldn’t see this until you hit school Li’l Buddy. The world has so many dangerous things, and your brother is right, there are real monsters where you wanted to go, really cruddy ones.”

His huge moist eyes made me even more afraid, but a strange sadness pulled me closer to him… After a moment, he brightened.

“Here, look at this!”

 

He held out the dangerous toy, beautiful,… magnificent in design and magnificent in the kid-sized hope it had once contained. I was awed…speechless.

 

F gun 1


Dad’s eyes fell back to the picture.


“It ain’t a toy is it Dad?”

“No, it ain’t……." He paused and cleared his throat."Well…. maybe in a way it is….the most dangerous toy Man has ever known.”

At first I was puzzled, until I realized Dad thought I was talking about the bomb, “Little Boy.” I wondered why someone would give that name to a toy that kills people. I knew that some of my friends had dads who didn’t make it back from the war, and those kids were always interested in hearing things about my dad. I guess in a way, they wanted to be near him like I did. They told me about the things their dads had done in the war. I had dreams about finding their dads and bringing them back so we could all make things together, build forts, play ball, and maybe take journeys.

With the firecracker gun, I was allowed to shoot it, but Dad made me clamp it in a vice and stand behind a wood panel, while I tried numerous times to light the charge with a match tied to a stick………great fun…..yeah.

In the frustration I felt about my “Dangerous Toy”, there was a bit of relief from the responsibility that it might inflict pain in some way, on anther person, an animal, or myself. I couldn’t stand to see anything suffer, and I was always sickened by the evil inventions some of my little pals used to dispatch bugs and small amphibians.


My fun was lost. But, it seemed so unimportant, compared to the fun lost by so many children on the other side of the planet; and the thousands who would never know any fun. With the product of Dad’s and my imagination in my hand, I went down into the storm cellar, found a spot on the pickle shelf way towards the back, laid my dangerous toy down and trudged back up the stairs through the cobwebs and sodden shadows.

 

f gun 2

 

 

 

 

Witness 3

"Little Boy" ground level, 6th of August , 1945

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
Wow. This is beautifully written and your early sensibilities left me feeling well about myself.
Incredibly beautiful writing.
Your story is incredibly moving. Thanks for taking the time to post this with the pictures.
Gary, you have a special clarity of memory and the gift of a tale well told. I love the amazing relics of your childhood.
You folks are very kind to visit and stay with it. I know it goes on a while, I've been really fortunate with the incredible people in my life.
That includes the wonderful minds of the OS.....
As a parent and someone who works with couples and families, I'm impressed with your parents. I love the relationship you had with your father...and your older brother. This kind of affection towards your parents when you are well into adulthood and possibly parenthood yourself stands out. Your father's reaction when you showed him the picture reminds me that sometimes, "less is more". No over-explanation involved. He made sure you got the point.

And someone is an incredible memory keeper. The drawings and the photos added much to your post. You have written something priceless to pass on to those you love.
I am at a loss for words, bud. Truly. This wasn't a "long piece" that I started to like but got bored with - I had to take it all the way to the end, to see where it went.
The others were probably more articulate than I can be, so I'll just say "DITTO!" and shut up.
Well done, Gary. :-D
Gary---this works on every level. Stunning and original piece. I wasn't breathing for the last several paragraphs.
I'm shaking as I write this. One of the best pieces I've read on OS. Hiroshima Mon Amour through the eyes of a child.
Gary, what a great story, what marvelous writing. I was totally riveted. This post is one of the best I've read on OS.
The detail, the language, the memories brought to life...all come together perfectly in a moving and wonderful story. I love the contrast between something so huge and "adult" as Hiroshima and the childhood innocence of that time in your life. Your father sounds like he was so tender and patient. Thanks for this. I really enjoyed it.
Perhaps the best piece I've read on Open Salon. Certainly my new favorite. Thanks, Gary--it's remarkable.
man, I'm so sorry to have lost the comments I've just written through the fault of the OS code. Ticks me off...

Gary, I'll condense what I just said:

I was going to mention some of our shared memories, some similar things we've gone through. We're close in age, we did some of the same things.

But I can't. I think if I did it would seem like an attempt to amend your story, and your beautiful writing should stand alone. I can't tell you the right way what this meant to me, except maybe to say thank you. It's a beautifully poignant story of the epiphany many of us get all too early, that there is evil in the world--but how we react to that is part of what makes us who we are.

Thank you Gary, I feel like this is a wonderful gift you've bestowed. Delighted to be your friend here.
Gary, I'm not sure that "poignant" is strong enough

I think it was Isaac Asimov who wrote about how the dull little boys had to be careful what kind of toys they asked the bright little boys to build them - because no matter how outrageous the toy, the bright little boys, soon or later, would be able to build them just what they asked for. Little Boy and Fat Man were object proof.
Awesome writting Gary. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.
Oh, Gary, I think this is the best thing I've read of yours (which is really saying something because it contained no dogs). You truly put me right there, arguing with your brother, bonding with your dad, sharing your parents' laughter. Thank you for a wonderful (and cautionary) tale. I attended grade school slightly later than the age of bomb shelters but we still saw the film strips (I remember volunteering to turn to the next picture at the beep) and heard the horror stories.

Thank you for a vivid piece of nostalgia from a superb writer. You're awesome.
wonderful storytelling.
Thank all of you for the thoughtful comments. I want to say more to all of you tomorrow. Off to sleep.
Just ... wow! And thanks for this.
Thank you Gary. Riviting, evocative. Took me right through that door into childhood and sounds like you had a fine one.
The Enola Gay, the plane that dropped that bomb, is on display at the new Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the Uvar-Hazy out near Dulles Airport. I take my son there a lot. He loves the planes and the helicopters and the elevators.

Every time I see that plane, I have a desire to pull my son close, and whisper in his ear, and tell him that there are things humans should never do to other humans, because it makes us not human. It chills me. Every damn time.

Great post.
I had to come back this morning to look at the drawings. Really (rilly) charming and funny.
I swear that there is something in my eye. That's all. I'm not crying, I swear.

Thanks for the story, Gary.
A fine read. Ditto the others' comments too.
This is the best post I have read on OpenSalon (in the admittedly short time I've been registered). I am in love with it.
Again, I'll not ever tire of saying how it is an honor exploring words and images with all of you! Good thoughts as we roll through the weedend.
Hi Gary:
I love this story. You are VERY lucky to have parents that were interested in your imagination and resourcefulness. Thank you for sharing a glipse into your childhood -- it must have been magical in your formation?!
Piling on the appreciation party, Gary :) This was just an incredible glimpse at that time, your family, the boy you were. I'm moved by the love and support of your parents - the way they supported your creativity and guided your awareness. Especially love the drawings, a gift all the way around. Thank you!
Superb. I wish there were a way to make this required reading for the world.

It's a gift to have treasured items from one's childhood--the "toy" your dad built having survived all of these years is awesome, but the drawings are pretty mind-boggling. My mother has things that go back six generations, so I can relate in a way. When she and my dad (ages 85 and 86) pass on, it will take most of a year to go through every item in their house one piece of paper at a time. Even though I'm the one likely to bear the brunt of the cleanup, having these type of treasures makes it all worthwhile.

A related story. My younger son Andrew (age 15) has a best friend Cole. Cole's dad is a passionate hunter. I couldn't kill anything unless I were starving, but I will say that Cole's family eats what they hunt. Even though Cole attends one of the most wealthy and prestigious school systems in Ohio, Dublin schools, his mom prepares squirrel casserole, venison, turkey, whatever the hunt produces. Here's a secret, though. Because he loves his dad, Cole went hunting with him when he was younger. At age 10, Cole shot his first buck, and it had a bigger rack than any his dad had ever killed. Cole fulfilled what he felt to be his filial duty and then quit hunting. His sister is now the most active partner in their dad's hunting exploits. Cole has told me and Andrew that his problem is that he doesn't really like to kill things, but he hasn't explained this to his dad. He just says, "no thanks, I think I'd rather . . . " and passes on the hunting outings.

I'm forwarding this to my Quaker relatives in NC.

Thanks for an eloquent and moving piece.

btw, there's a new "weasel" photo up this weekend you might enjoy.
Just went to see Flash of Genius with little mac last night - felt like I'd just been in your dad's lab/basement/garage/crucible.

Great story; great drawings. Humbling, and sad, when a child has to see things from "up there" in adultland. Scary. Lovely. Thanks.
Rated. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you.
A personal interest of mine has been the life and times of J. Robert Oppenheimer. I believe he would have cried with your dad.
What a creative story. Very interesting, I can just imagine you telling it with big eyes. You sound like you had a very profound childhood.
Rob, I always savor your comments, yours too Barry!!

Glen, I hope your eye gets better. There was something in mine for the past two weeks.

Donna, thanks for the sweet comment, I appreciate your warmth.

Melissa, you are kind, and everyone is thrilled you are back, and so soon!

Denis, it was a wow experience as I remember it.

Stacey, I hope you get to see the Fall colors in the Illinis River Basin.

Dog Woman, I am grateful for your comment and the wonderful story.

Connie, thanks for you generous research and insightful comments!

Tim, I wonder where Oppenheimer is right now. A fascinating, brilliant, complex man.

Jenny, Thanks and welcome!!

Be well everyone! All of you are so incredibly talented. Write some more brilliant stuff!!!!
Gary,
What can I add to all the other comments?
It's all been said.
Beautiful, wonderful. amazing!
Thank you.

M.
Thank you for this glimpse into your childhood. I can both smell the scent of the workbench and feel the depth of your awakening understanding of the larger world through your words. Your dad sounds like a treasure.
Gary, This is one of the best posts on OS.

I didn't look at it for a couple of days because the title made me think of those boys who used to blow up glass jars of pollwogs, and one of them shot me in the ass with a bb gun in third grade.

Your dad sounds a lot like my husband's dad, who everybody loved.
You were a very fortunate boy indeed.
Great piece, Gary. I hope everyone reads it.
PS - We had a pickle shelf too.
Gary - ditto what the others said - beautifully remembered and written. My favorite part -

Dad always let on like he thought my ideas were good, at least in the first part of every discussion. I know he wanted my imagination to develop un-encumbered by the boring reality of physical laws and popular belief.

Your story makes me feel better about my husband's encouragement of my kids' "dangerous" activities and to keep in mind that there are larger values worth teaching and encouraging.
Just as engaging on the second read. Well done. Favorite-- picture of the 'Judges', I laughed my ass off. They look like a perfectly matched couple. Love the '50s colloquialisms, haven't heard 'cruddy' in a dog's age.
In my world, guys with your Dad's build and crewcut were given wide berth. I'm grateful for an alternative image, thank you.
Where did you get that final photo?
thanks again everyone!

Oldgold, the image was on a card I picked up in Madison Wis.
It looked like a digital image. I found it again on the web after I scanned it, but I can't seem to find it again. I will keep trying to find the site for you.
Gary, very late to the admiration party, but no less heartfelt for my tardiness. This is a stunning post. Thank you.
Thanks Gary, as always. I finally set the time aside to enjoy this (and McCain hasn't said anything wacky in the past ten minutes pulling me elsewhere) and it was well worth it. Anything this well-written is a quick read, so no apologies necessary for length (brevity is so 2007.)

A beautiful remembrance. The other commenters have already said it better than I could, so I'll leave it at that.

Oh, and I was hoping to be thumb #50 (50!), but I'm content in laying the groundwork for the next reader who comes along.
This is a beautiful story, beautifully told.

And so remarkable that you still have these pictures and drawings! I remember the first serious clean-up I did right before leaving for college of the room I'd grown up in. At 17, all the diaries and drawings from when I was 5 or 6 seemed like things out of a time capsule. Childhood already felt so far away...

It's amazing that you preserved the objects for so long, and that they were able to lead you back to the feelings and experiences of that time.
This post is marvelous and moving and fascinating in so many ways. Thank you.
I can't thank you enough for bringing this post to my attention, Gary. What an amazing story about a father/son relationship and one that illuminates the competitive nature of brothers. And I could not forget the wonderful visual of your mom that you so perfectly described. Your family sounds wonderful and your recall of this touching, growing up, learning one of those first, harsh lessons in life and that there are cruddy monsters around every corner......just delighted me.
Thanks so much!!!
Love the drawings and the evocative description of your supportive parents. I hope one day my kids will remember me so fondly.

Beautifully told.

(rated)
Gary——
This is awesome. One of my favorite posts. It reads like a poignant, real-life postscript to The Dangerous Book for Boys... it makes the connection between toys and atrocities that the P.C. backlash to that book tried to make, without losing sight of the fact that boys will indeed be boys, no getting around it: the important thing is to respect both the child's imagination and the frailty of the world, and to teach the importance of responsibility (how to protect against backfire, in the child's microcosm, and how to protect against the weapon becoming the monster in the geopolitical macrocosm ).

It's fascinating how fine the boomer generation can be parsed into phases. My dad grew up in the late 40s/50s, I grew up in the 60s/70s. While I cherish my relationship with my dad, I have to admit we never had an opportunity for this kind of larger-world reflection. The world right outside our doorstep, New York City in all its grimy, crime-ridden glory was dangerous enough, back in the day. His understanding of the Bomb was no greater than yours back in the 50s...for him it was the simply the excuse for all those mutant movie monsters he enjoyed as a teenager and raved about to me when I was a kid. He had no shop to make me weapons, but he passed along monster knowledge as oral history. I wish I had weapons in my nightmares!

I love stories of boys and their dads. Thanks for this one.
Great story with a perfect title! And after reading it, I can see where all intricate and amazingly wonderful kinetic sculptures come from. You've transformed your Dad's love of gadgetry into a true art form -- both in word, and in 3-D. Thanks!
You folks have all been so generous in your responses!
Thanks to many of you who visited the Sculpture website.
I feel this is a very positive community of writers who genuinely care about advancing the thoughts and dreams of us all.
Gary, you are an incredible writer...
Thank you for that.
Peace,
Greg
Greg, Thanks for coming over to see the piece. It means alot for you to comment on this. I returned to your piece on jazz this evening and enjoyed it 3-fold more than the first time.
Be Well,
G
I wanted to add for Marco:
Hollywood made some good money on the nuclear scare.
For me, and possibly for your dad, as well as you when you were really little, it was an inevitability. We just had to figure out a way to survive beyond the projected terminal time frame. This made everyone, at least in the Midwest, keenly aware of the details of thirst and starvation coefficients. At school, we had to learn to "Duck and Cover." that was the mantra on into high school, when Nixon and Kissinger began to talk to the Soviet Union and China.
Gary, thanks so much for this wonderful story. It brought so many memories of my childhood growing up with two male brothers with whom I shared exuberant and adventurous/dangerous times with the neighborhood "buddies". I was the only girl: a privilege, yet as a girl: inferior to the rest, and my ideas were always distilled and diluted through the minds of older male buddies. So, I know what you mean about the "little brother inferiority complex". However, this ultimately forces one to overcome criticism and adversity through persistence, which is what you did with the help of your wonderful Dad. I am deeply touched about how you ultimately came to "shelve" the weapon with the realization of its danger. A fitting place for it since your story compares the shelve to "the edge/end of the world" (in your childhood drawings)!

The story also brought to mind my daughter's wild imagination, her childhood questions, her stories, her drawing, and her strange experiments and constructions- most of which I have kept in storage in hopes that she will re-discover them at some point and write stories.

So, while reading your story you made me smile with "one of those faces that melts steel; the face that dissolves monsters, thieves and all other villains."

We need more stories that will do this!
Nomadine
How very lucky I am to call you friend, Gary. I never would have been directed to this without the joy of interviewing you. This proves EXACTLY so many of the things that the world needs to know about someone as special as you. I think it is one of my favorite pieces of yours. Breathtaking. I heart you. Rated.
Oh my! I am so moved that you told me about this stunning post! Thanks.
Thank you so much Zum for visiting, I hope this can get on the feed again as the anniversary approaches!
Still a wonderful read, Gary, as I remembered it. I was so glad to peek in and see your worthy self on the most read list! Truly perfect in emotion, timing, everything one might want.
Bravo!
O, I appreciate your re-visit to this story. Thank you and be well..
Wow Gary, that was great. Remarkable in the way many filaments were brought together with such a fine sensibility.
Remarkable too because in our dither and scramble world we (I) fail to identify, and pay homage to, the underlying paranoia that the advent of the "atomic age" brought. I remember being scared numb by my fifth grade teacher during her daily rants that started each class. We could be "vaporized" at any minute!
The contrast of your loving family was a stroke of grace and love.
Peace, Guy
Beautiful writing. Your early pictures remind me of medieval maps. Beyond the spaces where they had not gone was the notation "here be dragons." I guess the A-Bomb was the ultimate dragon, wasn't it?