Teachers can take many forms. Public school, army instructors, trade school. Or the school of hard knocks and less than perfectly respectful citizens. Like my "Uncle" Eddie and gang.
I never knew my real father, him being deceased not long after I came into the world. Mom was doing the best she could as a single mom in Washington D.C. working as a waitress. It was her luck and ultimate salvation to catch the eye of one Eddie G--enelli who was one of the partners who owned the nightclub where mom ultimately ended up working. Eddie and his partners were some New York Businessmen who had come down to D.C to take advantage of the rapidly mushrooming growth in the post WW2 Washington environment. Business must have been good as the club prospered and that meant money for me and mom. Especially when Eddie ended up marrying mom after some years of dating and co-habitation.
The side benefit of this was, I ended up with three father/uncle figures for teachers in my pre-teen and teenage years. Okay, maybe some of what I learned wasn't the greatest, but I survived and went on to live a decent life. But some those life's lessons I feel helped.
The very first introduction to guns was when Eddie gave me an impromptu shooting lesson with his little Colt .25 vest pocket pistol he always carried. It was a magical experience, and the feel of that flat hard solid feeling little gun never left me. His lessons about "don't worry about any long range stuff, the guy giving you grief is most likely to be right in front of you" stayed with me. All my life the memory of him shooting that guy with a knife down in that Virginia picnic ground stayed vivid in my memory. His teaching always bringing the gun up to eye level and aiming in a hurry was also good. Very much later in life, reading stuff by Jim Cirillo, I realized that Eddie was ahead of his time.
Then there was the two Tony's. Big Tony was in charge of the restaurant style meals the kitchen served, and ran the daily operations with Eddie. He was called Big Tony to differentiate him from Little Tony. Big Tony was a hulking 6 foot 4ish guy, soft spoken because nobody wanted to anger him into yelling at them. He told people what to do in a quiet polite way, and people did it. Little Tony's job was a little more foggy. He had a workshop in the basement and all kinds of stuff interesting to a kid. A workbench with gun parts and tools and even a bullet trap for test firing when the soundproof door was closed. When I was in my mid teens I asked him one day what his job was. He was quiet for a spell then said he was like an umpire. When there was a problem with some business, he settled the dispute. I left it at that.
One evening when Eddie was over the apartment paying a call on mom, he saw a good puff on my eye. I'd been clobbered by another kid at school over lunch money of all things. Eddie asked what happened and I told him. He didn't say anything then, but the next day he told me to go see Little Tony. I got educated in the bandana through the padlock thing, and it worked like a charm. The bigger kid got some stitches in the noggin when we tangled again and never bothered me again. I'll always remember Little Tony's advise; "If they won't respect ya, then make 'em fear ya."
There was a few times Eddie told me to go see Little Tony. He found me once with a switchblade I'd bought off another kid, and slapped me in the head a good one. Told me that it was a punks weapon and he wasn't raising a punk on his watch. Told me to "go see Little Tony."
Little Tony taught me the art of the crescent wrench, screw driver, dowel rod, hickory or other hardwood walking stick, beer pitcher, beer bottle, and any other blunt force trauma weapon at hand. Taught me to be aware of environment and stuff around in arms reach, and how to deal with someone with a knife. I felt very empowered with he knowledge of what Little Tony taught me. I'll always remember his words; "A knife ain't Jack S--t, and unlike a gun it can't hurt ya if it can't touch ya." He taught me to use anything to block a knife attack from a sofa or chair cushion to bar stool to rolled up magazine to any kind of stick.
It was a very strange adolescence for a kid, and I know that it was somewhat abnormal, but it was handy to know some of those things later in life when I found myself in strange circumstances. Another thing that stuck in my mind was, none of these guys carried any gun of large size. By hook or by crook, bribes of whomever, they all had a license to carry in a city where license to carry was almost unheard of. Eddie, Big Tony, Little Tony, and few of the others all had small pocket size guns like those old Colt, Astra, Beretta .25's, .32's, and a few snubbie .38 revolvers.
I remember one time I asked Little Tony about larger guns. We were down by the bank of the Anocostia river at a deserted spot, and he was giving me some pointers and point shooting practice using his little Colt junior that was a rebadged Astra Cub. I mentioned that a Colt .45 auto would be cool. His answer was a week later. He took us down to the river bank again, and he had a .45. He set up an old ham that the local grocery store had tossed being out of date. In back of it he put a watermelon. Then he shot the watermelon with his .25, and a .22 Colt bankers revolver. The rounds from both guns penetrated the ham and halfway through the watermellon. Then he gave me a speech.
"When you pull a trigger, you'll own that bullet. For better or worse, that's your bullet. If goes through whatever or whoever you shoot, that's still your bullet. You don't need a hand cannon to do the job. That oil pump in the chest doesn't care if the bullet is a quarter inch or three eights of an inch or almost a half inch. Soon as its hit, it stops working and its game over for the chump. A couple or three .25's or .32's will do the job, and the old lady leaving the restaurant down the street with her husband of 50 years will be just fine, because all the bullets stayed in your target."
Then Tony picked up the Colt .45 government model from the gym bag and shot the ham. The .45 round blew right through the ham, blew up the watermelon, and then made a big splattered crater in the muddy embankment in back of it all. Tony pointed to the muddy hole.
"There's the old lady down the street that was coming out of the restaurant with her hubby after celebrating their 50th. That ain't gonna go very well with people. Don't carry too much gun. You don't need a hand cannon, just hit what you're aiming at with what ya got on ya."
That lesson made an impression on me.
Don't over do it, just enough will do.