Dr. Rodney T. Hard
Rodney, on the mountain, still playing with a slingshot in high school. At this time, unlike his rambunctious earlier years, he only shot at birds, rats, and mice.
The wall in the foreground on the left is the barbed wire covered wall to my house. Many earlier battles took place on this road, especially when the upper neighborhood came down the steps to attack us. The final battle in the story took place on the Mountain of a Thousand Horses above the houses in this picture.
By: Dr. Rodney T. Hard
Each neighborhood in post-war Pusan, Korea was a tight-knit clique. The kids all played together, protected each other, and had loyalty for the neighborhood akin to the fan club mentality one would have toward a sports team.
Each neighborhood had its strengths and weaknesses. One weakness we had is that our neighborhood did not have very many older kids. We had a lot of grade school and middle school kids and only a couple of high school kids.
So, we were the brunt of many surprise attacks by other neighborhood kids who would gang together and come charging into our territory with sticks and other makeshift weapons. We would retreat to my house surrounded by a high wall that had glass and barbed wire on top. We would pass out weapons from our stash and then counter attack, trying to drive them back up the mountain or down the hill.
Our neighborhood decided that we needed better weapons to even the odds so we escalated things by adding slingshots to the mix. Eventually, the other neighborhoods added slingshots to their arsenals. One summer the neighborhoods decided to end this once and for all because too many kids were getting hurt. These battles would go on until someone got hit in the head and started bleeding pretty badly. We would all scatter and go home. The kid who got hurt would go home and get a beating from his parents for participating in this silliness.
Instead of surprise attacks, we avoided the parents and injury to innocent bystanders by going up the mountain where there was an open battlefield.
We all made our own slingshots. When the other neighborhoods made theirs and equaled the odds, we had to come up with something better. We started making wooden slingshot rifles that you could fire down a long stick from a trigger mechanism made with a large nail. The other neighborhoods fell one by one to our superior firepower. The final battle of the competition came down to us against another neighborhood for the championship.
Our neighborhood's youngest kids, five or six years old, were our spies since they could move about other neighborhoods unnoticed. Intelligence came back that the other neighborhood had developed their own rifle slings shots to even the odds. The kids in that neighborhood were also much older and bigger than us.
So, my brother Sterling developed a slingshot cannon that could fire a baseball sized rock over a long distance. He sat on the ground, braced the bi-pod base with his feet and would draw back the large leather pouch attached by four strands of surgical rubber tubing on each side.
On the day of the battle, we went up the mountain to meet our unsuspecting foes. As the battle progressed, our leader got cornered by the other team with a cliff behind him and nowhere else to go but toward the attackers. The leader of the other team aimed his rifle slingshot at our leader and demanded that he surrender.
Sterling was down the hill about 30 or 40 yards and saw our leader in trouble. He drew back and shot a large rock up the hill splintering the wooden rifle that our enemy was about to fire.
The battle came to a sudden halt with a tentative time out. They wanted to see what our secret weapon was. Sterling took a fist sized rock and shot it into a large rock wall about fifty yards away, shattering the projectile into many pieces.
The other team's jaws dropped in amazement. That was the end of the battle. They conceded defeat and we were victorious. No neighborhood ever messed with us again.
COntent of this site copyrighted 2016 by Dr. Rodney Hard. all rights reserved.