Sure, but did She have to Kill the Turkey???

Part 19 of the Judy Tomaini Rock Series


The next couple of years were just routine. Business as usual. Jerry Havens worked the bait house, and did any digging or hard work, so she could show the guys how tough she was. Then they would unwind over beers at the restaurant. That usually ended, in someone getting mad, and slamming the door on the way out. And more times than not, it was one of the guys that got mad. That just gave Jerry something else to gloat over. She was my "big sister." Who would have rather been a big brother, but such a good, kind, and caring person. Everybody loved her, even though she did send the "Little Giant" off a mountain. She did slow down her driving a bit after that.

The weather was so nice, most of the time, but on the rare occasions a hurricane dropped in, and the water rose over the seawall, everyone had a job to do, and they did it. When you live in a flood zone, you learn to water proof your surroundings. Everything in the bait house, was on concrete blocks, the freezers and shrimp tanks. TV's were also put on the work bench, where they would be away from the water. All of the test equipment was already mounted on shelves, much higher than the work bench.

The summer tides would at times, sneak over the seawall, and up to the porch of the bait house. That was when Judy would go to the "beach". The water was only deep enough to splash in, and pretend she was a mermaid at Weeki Wachee. She had show business in her blood, and that is something, that just doesn't go away, or fade, or dilute. It is there forever. It is what memories are made of, that suffice in old age, when the body gives out. And all that is left are faded photos of a better time, a time that is gone, and cannot be retrieved, only the best parts, as our memories. Like a filing cabinet, that pops open, when a certain thought triggers it. And a trip down memory lane happens.

The fat lady, Dotty Blackhall, and her husband Tommy, lived a few blocks away, and Judy would go by her house everyday after school. And there would be, an ice cold Vernors Gingerale waiting for her. Aunt Dotty never went anywhere but the Tomaini's house, and was a very trusted friend, so it was ok for Judy to go there. She was only about seven, and it was a long walk home from the bus stop. So that was her refreshment, at the end of a long school day. And afternoon snack. before supper time. Aunt Dotty always had something sweet, to go with the drink. Usually some baked cookies, or pastry, which Dotty was fond of. She had to keep her weight up, was the excuse she used. And Judy needed some meat on her bones. So continued the daily ritual.

 Al was a hunter, and being a deputy, always wore a gun. Judy would watch intently when he cleaned it. After she was 7 years old, and understood the dangers of a firearm, and that they can cause death. Al felt it was time, to let her try shooting at a target. She already knew how to care for them, and how to carry a rifle. So one day, Al took her out to the garage, and  measured her arm, and cut the stock down, so she could reach the trigger. It was a little single shot Winchester. He had a gun range built on the point, behind the bait house, and every afternoon, Judy would go through a box of bullets. It wasn't too long till she could hit a match and light it, at about 150 feet. As he got better she started trying new ways to shoot the gun. Till she could shoot just as good, with the gun on her shoulder, and sighting through a mirror. Not many people even noticed, what she was doing with the gun. Just a skinny little kid shooting at targets. That Thanksgiving, the VFW in Riverview, was having a turkey shoot. Al being the jokester that he was, ask Judy, if she would like to go shoot our turkey dinner. Sure, but did she have to kill the turkey??? Since he was right in there with the Easter Bunny, and Santa in her eyes. Then it was explained, that it was just at a target, and she could use her own gun. Not knowing that Al had planned for this day, for months, and the joke would be on the guys at the VFW. Al took his shots, and almost got the bullseye. Then he ask if Judy could try, with her own little gun, and they laughed and said sure, if you buy her a ticket. Since they were only a dollar a chance, the money went into the kitty, so they could have their weekly dinners. Al paid for three chances, for Judy, saying at least the kid, will get extra chances to win. Which was the biggest joke of the day. She stepped up to the line, put in a bullet, cocked it, and like her Dad had taught her, site the target, a allow for the way the gun shot, which on her gun was to the left just a tad, slowly exhale, and squeeze the trigger. Dead center in the bullseye. Do it again. Same thing. And the last shot, in the same place, as the two before it. The guys were speechless, till Judy broke the silence with, does this mean we get three turkeys???

 That was the one and only time, Judy ever got to "buy" the turkey, for thanksgiving. After that day the word got out real fast, she was a crack shot, and don't take any wagers from Al. He laughed about that day, for a long time.

 A good friend had a lot of acreage in Wimauma, and had fields, where hunters would go after quail. He invited Al to go hunting with him. And said to bring the kid along too. That day would be the ultimate disaster, and a lesson she would never forget. Judy had never killed anything. And was real soft hearted. Wouldn't even eat anything, she saw alive first. They got up at 5am, and drove out to the farm. The owner was already there, and had the gate open. The guns were loaded and ready to go, and rules of the hunt, were gone over. When the sun started to come up, the cold crisp air of the country, and the foggy mist rising from the warm ground, was a sign it would be a perfect morning for hunting. Al got in a couple shots, and bagged a few quail. Since Judy had only a single shot 22, he would find one on the ground, for her to shoot. He spotted a meadow lark, which was as good to eat as quail, and where she could get a shot at it. It took several shots, or a real dumb bird, but she finally connected, the bullet to the bird. Judy only wanted to go hunting to be with her Dad, and for some reason didn't connect killing anything, with walking around in a field. That night for supper, at her place at the table, sat a plate, with the tiny little meadow lark on it. She got sick at the thought of eating it. Al explained, the only reason you killed animals, was to eat them, not for fun. That was a big lesson for a 7 year old kid. She went to bed with out eating that night. And never went hunting again....


2004 Judy Tomaini Rock, All Rights Reserved

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