Category Archives: pistol packin’ mama

Pistol Packin’ Mamas

While perusing my archive of images looking for ideas for my next post, I realized that over the years I have accumulated a fun little collection of images featuring “girls with guns”.  This was a very reasonable thing for me to do since 1.)  I’ve never seen one I didn’t like; and 2.) they comprise two of my favorite things in the whole world.

Inevitably, several found their way into the Greetings from Other Worlds note card collection. To wit:

Miss May Lillie

Miss May Lillie

Now that’s what they call a “dead-eye”!  Once Miss May had her sights on you I’m inclined to believe she didn’t miss.  She was born Mary E. “May” Manning in 1869 and was an American sharpshooter and equestrian who traveled the country billed as the “Champion Horseback Shot of the West“.

Of course there was another young filly who could also claim that title:

Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley

“Little Sure Shot” ( a nickname given her by Sitting Bull when they both toured with Buffalo Bill), is often considered America’s first female superstar.  Whether she could outshoot Miss May will have to remain one of those unanswered debates of America History – serious American history.

The notion of American women of the “wild west” being so handy with shootin’ irons stirred considerable interest on the other side of the Atlantic, particularly in England.  Not having the advantage of actually being able to see one in action, this artist used his imagination to depict his lovely “Queen of the Ranch”:

Queen of the Ranch

Queen of the Ranch

This young cow girl was part of a fanciful collection of what the artist (or his editors) thought the West must have been like.  It was included as a trading card in packs of cigarettes around the turn of the century.

America’s attention had been grabbed before by a gun totin’ woman in the person of the infamous “Queen of the Oklahoma Outlaws” Belle Starr.  She was definitely one pistol packin’ mama whose sights you didn’t want to be in.  Could this have been meant to be her?

The Belle of the West

The Belle of the West

The stereotype of women being afraid of guns has been thoroughly trounced for some time, and the above ladies were just a well-known few of the many who have proved to be handy and/or deadly with a heater.  One of the most obvious is this young femme fatale:

Bonnie Parker

Bonnie Parker, ca. 1933

If Clyde Barrow had gone on his crime spree without Miss Parker he probably would have ended up as just another sorry crook in a long list of miscreants much more colorful than he.  But to his eternal credit and good fortune (?), he added sex-appeal to his rambunctious doings by recruiting Bonnie, who was neither afraid of guns or cigars.

Now here’s a serious and tragic bit of history:

Armenian Women with Rifles

Portrait of two Armenian fighters during the Hamidian Massacres, 1895

If ever there was a tragic, sad, and thoroughly repugnant moment in modern history, the massacre of Armenians and Assyrian Christians by the Turks in the middle 1890s must rank high on the list.  I don’t want to talk about it so I recommend you read about it HERE.  It will certainly explain the photo above.  These two women look like they were fully capable of sending more than a few jihadists to perdition and I hope they did.

Now let’s step on the other side of the line that separates the good from the bad and take a look at a woman not afraid to handle a bad guy.

woman policeman with criminal

Woman Policeman, ca. 1909

As I understand it, back then the NYPD was toying with the idea of putting gun carrying women “policemen” on the beat.  This is part of a series of photos meant to illustrate the forward looking idea to a public that probably wasn’t ready for it yet.

Here’s a gun club worth joining:

4 women with pistols

A True Gang of “Pistol Packin’ Mamas”

I sort of wish the one on the left would raise her sights a bit.

In the ’60s LIFE magazine ran a story on women and guns and this was their cover photo.  I bet it sold out!

A Girl and Her Gun

A Girl and Her Gun

The image of a woman, or women, with guns has been used innumerable times to raise the temperature of men and thereby sell a piece of literature that might have otherwise languished on the stands.  It was just a plain and simple technique that worked every time (I’m speaking for myself, you understand).

Let’s finish up with just a few colorful examples:

Book cover: sinner's shroud

The Ladies’ Version of Concealed Carry

pulp fiction cover

Another  Nominee for the Pulp Fiction Cover Hall of Fame

Gun Molls Magazine

They even had their own magazine!

Notice it’s a “Real Publication”.  Nice garter too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our tour through an oh so inspiring chapter of Feminine History; I know I have.  In fact, I have no doubt that you have already picked out a few recipients for these cards; just click on the ones you want and be taken to the appropriate page at my Etsy shop.  If it doesn’t go there it’s because I haven’t made a card of it yet.  In that case simply sweet talk me and I’ll make one just for you!

Now, do not miss the fine audio visual performances below; they will make your day!

____________________


Leave a comment

Filed under annie oakley, belle star, firearms, girls, greeting cards, guns, history, Miss May Lillie, note cards, Photography, pistol packin' mama, the past