If you happen to cross paths with Tommy Bradshaw, you can bet your bottom dollar trouble isn’t far behind. You should hope your karma bank account is loaded up.
Tommy, a born a mischief maker, is also an unwitting instigator. He’s audacious individual who seems to ride a situation out just a little further from the safety zone than one should. In the end, when it came to bending or breaking the rules, someone else usually gets hurt or worse. As for the category of individuals who are born lucky, Tommy nearly always seemed to find the invisible safety net when it was just out of reach an instant ago.
Of the very early years of Tommy’s rambunctious and adventurous life, there were but a few vivid recollections remembered in mendacious detail about his life around River Town. Some of his indelible memories seemed funny, but a couple incidents never faded from his mind, though he wished it would. At around four years old, his everyday history about the life around him began to stick in his malleable mind.
Like most kids back in the day as they say, Tommy was nearly invisible until he got into mischief which was on a regular and steady basis.
One day, trying to hear the hushed grown up talk, he heard his mother tell his aunt and uncle, “If it’s all of a sudden quiet, you better go running!” He was pretty sure his mother was talking about him.
Along with seasonal and everyday memories, there was those goofy, funny faces permanently etched in the Tommy’s curious mind. Like the great uncles with their oversized ears and large purple noses packed full of overgrown hair. And his grandmas and great aunts all sported thin penciled in eyebrows, brightly dyed hair and left lipstick on the ends of their cigarettes. The sweet, slightly cantankerous old ladies with stashes of tissue everywhere on their persons, were always at the ready to lick the tissue and clean off a smudge from Tommy’s face. At birthdays and what not, the women around Tommy discussed meat on sale, church, soap opera’s and always questioned the morals of women who were not ladylike.
Speaking over and around the women’s conversation, the men got into boisterous, yet civil discussions about the flourishing tire factory and the dying bomb manufacturing facility. Occasionally, someone lamented about abandoned lumber mill sprawled out along the river just waiting for two boys with nothing to do and a book of matches.
That same extinct logging industry influenced everyday life since the first loggers took to the northwoods to cash in on the giant white pine. The endless supply of fat, straight, nearly limbless pine trees were felled quickly, cut into lumber and used to build America.
When the endless supply of pine was logged off,the land was left rooted with a deciduous forest of men who stood tall, with tough attitudes, and a tenacious zest to do more than survive.
Those rugged and determined men cleared land of its giant stumps to farm and raise families. One by one with block and tackle, using one stump to rip the next stump from the ground, the task continued undaunted until one lonely stump remained. That stump represented a lifetime of hard work and eventually marked the old man’s grave at the end of his one day of retirement.
Those temperate women and manly men in the genetic lineup kept the threads of life from unraveling under Tommy’s feet. They were tough as nails, resourceful, subservient and churchy. Those same solid people also had a touch of mischief and carelessness blended into their personalities. Aside from churchy, Tommy Bradshaw inherited a smattering of all those qualities along with the rapid development a few other pronounced characteristics that got him in trouble and saved his hide.
Closing in on all of five years old, with kindergarten just weeks away, Tommy got his first taste of a painful sting of reality. It was also his first of what would be numerous scrapes up against the grim reaper’s careless hacking of the scythe.