This was long before gun control issues dominated the political rhetoric of Congress and the White House. She kept one at hand after Paw Paw died in 1975 since she lived alone. As far as I know, she never fired at anyone but she once allowed my brother Bob and his friend Johnny Tanner to go outside her house and shoot at a Coca-Cola can.
“We only shot her .44 Magnum pistol once because it knocked me and Bob on our tails when we fired it,” said Johnny. “Maw Maw thought it was funny.”
I always felt safe when I was around my late grandmother Inice Green of Bowdon who I called “Maw Maw.” One time when I was 8 years old, my mother needed to stop by Rich’s Department Store in Atlanta to return an item from Christmas. She parked her wood panel station wagon in a parking garage and asked me and Maw Maw to stay in the vehicle while she exchanged her gift.
“You just take your time,” said Maw Maw. “He’s safe with me.”
A few minutes later, a group of guys entered the parking garage and began fighting about 25 yards from our station wagon.
“Don’t you worry,” she said to me. “They’re not going to bother us.”
That’s when I noticed Maw Maw reach next to her Social Security card in her purse and pull out something from a brown paper bag.
“Maw Maw, is that your pistol?” I asked peering over the backseat.
“Yes,” she replied. “I’m not going to use it unless these boys try to jump in our car.”
Thankfully, those boys resolved their issue and moved on. I’m glad because they had no idea my grandmother, who always smiled and was so kind and sweet, carried a pistol in her pocket book.
Recently, my family visited New Orleans to spend time with friends and relatives. I’ve always loved the Big Easy. I’ve always admired their priorities of food, fun and fellowship. As my family walked the streets in the French Quarter, my wife admired the architecture while my children enjoyed being in a city they’d never visited. As for me, I thought about Maw Maw pulling out her pistol on Bourbon Street in 1976.
That summer my parents decided to pack us in their station wagon and visit my Uncle Bobby and Aunt Beverly in Houston, Texas. One of our stops along this trip was New Orleans. While my dad drove us through Bourbon Street at night, he needed to make a pit stop.
“You just run in and I’ll watch all of them,” Maw Maw instructed my dad. When my dad exited the vehicle, Maw Maw reached in her pocket book and pulled out her .44 Magnum from a brown paper bag. “Nobody’s going to mess with us.”
In the months ahead, Congress and the White House will continue to debate and implement new gun control laws. I try to think what Maw Maw would have thought about all of this? My guess is she could have cared less as long as she could continue to own her pistol. On the other hand, if the government ever tried to restrict her homemade remedy cough syrup and Vicks Salve — that may have sparked another revolution.
Garrett is a Carrollton resident and businessman. You can read more of his columns at joegarrett1.wordpress.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.