Just for fun, I baited my dad this week. After I’d thanked him for the check he sent for our home repairs, we were talking about his latest dental escapade, and I said, “So who are the radio guys you listen to, Dad?”
“Oh, Michael Savage – he wasn’t always called Savage. He wrote a book called ‘Bringing up Baby.’ I got it from the library under a different name, but it wasn’t what I thought. [That’s because he never wrote such a book, as far as I can tell.] Then he changed his name to Savage. Hannity’s good too. There are so few conservative radio shows out there. Everything’s liberal.”
He just named two conservative shows off the top of his head, and I can name three more. I couldn’t name one liberal show. But I don’t listen to talk radio, either. Maybe he’s right.
“So what was he talking about this week?”
“Now they’re gonna take all your guns away.”
Sidebar: This notion cracks me up. No matter where you stand on gun control, you can’t possibly believe that the government would knock on doors and search your homes to take guns away, can you? Even if you don’t see the ridiculousness of that notion, do you have any idea how expensive that would be? No matter how much you think Democrats like to spend, no one would ever attempt such a thing. Your guns are safe. Well, as long as you have them locked up separate from your ammo and out of children’s reach. You know, gun safety. But seriously, youre arsenal is safe.
“We don’t have any guns, Dad, so we’re okay,” I said.
“Yes, I have one.”
“I mean OUR family.”
“Yes, I do. I bought it in ’65, when they were having trouble with the, you know, black people. They harassed people in such a way that they stopped coming to the U.S. for the World’s Fair.”
Oh, you didn’t tell me you worked security for the World’s Fair. “What do you mean, ‘in such a way?’”
“I mean in such a way that they stopped coming to the World’s Fair.”
“What did they do?”
“Oh, well, they’d stop a car – it probably wasn’t theirs, they probably stole it – on the highway and when the traffic jam got too much people stopped going to the World’s Fair. They stopped people from coming over from Europe to the World’s Fair.” How? Did they steal a plane and stop it over the Atlantic until Europeans got fed up with air traffic and turned back home?
“That’s when all the integration issues were going on?” I said.
“Not integration. They wanted their rights, but that was the wrong way to do it. They didn’t have another way.”
So, yes, integration. But let’s back up here. In 1965, my father lived in Putnam County, New York, which was, at the time, rural. His neighborhood had maybe 20 houses; there were horses everywhere; farms; main street in town was right out of a Norman Rockwell painting and town itself was still more of a summer destination than a year-round residence. And I can’t guarantee, but I can reasonably maintain, that there were no black people in his town. I might be wrong, because I have no idea how to Google that, but when black families moved into our neighborhood twenty years later, my parents whispered and feared so much that it had to be their first encounter with integrated society.
My point is that no one was going to march on my father’s rural town. He’s paranoid, and by this little story I see that he’s always been paranoid, but buying a gun because he feared race riots in Putnam County? Oh. My. God. That is ridiculous. And I can tell you something else. He doesn’t care about that gun. At least he didn’t care about that gun until Michael Savage started talking about it.
I knew he had the gun – it’s a rifle – “You don’t need a background check for that” is why my dad bought it, he said on the phone. (Why? Would he not have passed one? Maybe there’s more to that story.) I asked about it once when I was about ten years old and he told me he thought he’d go hunting some day. Yeah, hunting rioters, maybe.
Anyway, that gun hasn’t moved since 1965. It’s lived in the closet of my Yiaya’s old room, collecting dust for almost 50 years. He has never cleaned it, fired it, or touched it. I don’t think he even has shells for it. But now that the gun control debate rages, he can’t live without it. I’d like to thank Michael Savage for making this post possible. Without him, my dad wouldn’t know what to think.