USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘gun’
Game
Legends
Narrative

Quickdraw Contest

Main Piece

“There was a quickdraw contest every year in West Central Minnesota. Mind you, this is mostly rural areas so these fuckers know how to use guns. Not safely, but efficiently. [The gun] is fully loaded, you pull it out of your holster, take six shots, you reload, and take six more shots. He [Nick] won…the first year he was in it. He won a .357, a Smith and Wesson. The next year, he won again and they gave him another revolver. The year after, he won again but they gave the gun to the second place winner.”

Background

Informant

Nationality: American

Location: Willmar, Minnesota

Language: English

The “cop” in the story is the informant’s great uncle Nick, but this and other stories were all originally told to the informant by the his great uncle’s brother, the informant’s Grandfather. The informant didn’t fully believe the stories until he attended Nick’s funeral. There, the informant heard the story told by other people, and now the informant completely believes the story.

The informant finds the story very funny, as did everyone else. Everyone who knew the story had a positive memory of both the informant’s great uncle and the story. Someone at the funeral commented to the informant the following: “The only thing that would surprise me about Nick is if any of those stories weren’t true.”

Although the informant was not born at the time of these events, he fully believes in them and the fact that his great uncle Nick was a great, if sometimes irresponsible, handler of guns. The story means a great deal to the informant, and is one of the main memories he has of Nick, who has since passed away.

Context

The informant’s great uncle was a police officer from the 1950’s to the 1980’s in West Central Minnesota, and the story occurred somewhere in this time period.

Notes

Nick’s prowess with guns and its influence on his identity speaks to the importance of guns in America as a defining characteristic of many people’s lives. I find this concept to be very interesting, especially as it is part of the reason why many people do not want to enact any kind of gun control.

 

Legends
Narrative

Heroism by a Police Officer in Minnesota

Main Piece

“They get a call that this guy, who had had some problems before, and he [Nick] had actually dealt with him before, was holding his family hostage in his house [the criminal]. The guy is holding his family at gunpoint, maybe he was holding them for money… I don’t know what it was for. He said he would shoot anyone who came in the house with a gun. My uncle wanted to go in…so he gave somebody his gun and went in. He knew the man and so he went in and convinced him to let the family go.”

Background

Informant

Nationality: American

Location: Willmar, Minnesota

Language: English

The “cop” in the story is the informant’s great uncle Nick, but this and other stories were originally told to the informant by the his great uncle’s brother, the informant’s Grandfather. The informant didn’t fully believe the story until he attended Nick’s funeral. There, the informant heard the story told by other people, and now the informant completely believes the story. The story is one of the most important things that the informant remembers about his late great uncle and how great of a man he was.

Context

The informant’s great uncle was a police officer from the 1950’s to the 1980’s in West Central Minnesota, and the story occurred somewhere in this time period.

Notes

Despite the informant’s great uncle making use of guns his whole life, his greatest act did not require one. I find the story interesting because although it happened not that long ago, the details are already fuzzy and Nick’s act, although heroic, could easily have been greatly exaggerated. It is also possible that the loss of details actually undersells Nick’s act.

 

Childhood
Game

007

In this childrens hand game the goal is to “kill the other player”  Similar to rock paper scissors the game begins with a lead in, (the two players clapping their hands with each other three times) after the third clap the players than make one of three moves.

  1. Sheild – denotated by crossing your arms over your chest
  2. Gun – denotated with both hands in a hand gun gesture with thumbs up and pointers extended with the other fingers not extended
  3. Power up – denotated by making a thumbs up sign with both hands and bringing them above your shoulders.

Rules

  1. Sheild protects against gun
  2. Gun can only be used after it has been powered up once per use
  3. In order to win you must shoot on a turn where your opponent is not protecting themselves.

My friend called this game Zero – Zero – Seven (007) which seems to be a direct reference to James Bond.  I played it too as a kid but not with any specific name.   She said she played this game as a kid and when she was in india she taught it to a girl there.

The game is interesting cause it seems to be a more violent variant of rock paper scissors.  The James Bond reference is interesting as well because it is unclear if that name came later or the popularization of James bond is a terminus post quem.

Folk Beliefs
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Never carry a gun

Information about the Informant

My informant is a professor teaching English and American Literature at the University of Southern California. He grew up in Chicago during the 1950s, and fought in the latter half of the Vietnam War. After that, he returned and received his degree in English Literature at UC Irvine. He has worked on many textbooks and movies that deal with the Vietnam War.

Transcript

“Same man…who was a professional burglar…taught me to never carry a gun. Because, he said, if you carry a gun, you’re gonna have to take it out. And if you take it out, you’re gonna have to use it, because if you don’t use it, the son of a bitch you’re pointing it at is gonna take it away from you and use it on you. So, never carry a gun.”

Analysis

Practical advice, but also folklore as it has been passed down by word of mouth from person to person such that even I, who grew up in Taiwan and has been nowhere near Chicago, have heard a variant of this piece of advice. I have heard this advice given not just about guns, but about knives and about Mace. An interesting comparison can be made between this piece of folklore that my informant gave me and the similar advice I’ve heard. In my case, the example I’m thinking of was about Mace, and it was told to me as a reason why girls should not carry Mace pepper spray around with them to defend themselves with, because it could so easily be turned around and used on the girl if she was not careful or if she hesitated at all. Which seemed to me at the time a bit sexist and troublesome as its core message seemed to be that I, as a girl, should not carry items that I could use in case of being attacked. But here, it sounds more like practical advice, because it was told to a male, and was told to my informant by a purported criminal who would be more likely to know these things firsthand, and thus the advice has more of accuracy associated with it.

[geolocation]