I was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1950—that makes me a baby boomer Jersey girl. I grew up in Rutherford, a middle-class town on the edge of the Meadowlands, when there were still some real meadows there, before they gave way to industrial parks and factory outlets. I believed everybody saw the Empire State Building when they looked to the east (even now some part of me regards New York City as the center of the known universe). And I believed a good day’s hunting was best accomplished at the Garden State Plaza shopping mall in Paramus.
Still, I had girlhood fantasies of trick-riding with Annie Oakley, armed with my pearl-handled Dale Evans six-shooters, the ones that had come complete with a “silver”-tooled cartridge belt and a supply of red plastic bullets. Aside from those toy pistols, guns weren’t a factor one way or the other, in my growing up. A member of the first TV generation, my action fantasies were shaped by Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, Wagon Train and life on the Ponderosa. But if guns and frontier life were a natural part of my childhood fantasies, they were just as “naturally” foreign to the suburban New Jersey world in which I actually lived. I knew our next-door neighbors had guns; their two boys were scouts, and went camping and hunting. On my sixth birthday, the older boy had used the balloons strung up in our backyard for target practice with his BB gun. Twenty-five years passed before I came to understand how irresistible those targets must have looked to him!