There once was a boy named Tommy. He lived in a small town in the Midwest which was famous for the extraordinary number of tires piled up in its center. The signs that directed visitors to the enormous mound read simply: This Way to Tire Mountain.
Of the hundred or so travelers who would pass through the town every year, a great majority would contribute some of their tires to the pile. This made Jack Tucker, the only tire man in town, very happy. Jack loved visitors so much that he would often sit at the side of the road and greet them as they stopped. Sometimes...hey, let’s get back to Tommy, shall we?
Tommy and his mother lived in a cozy home which consisted entirely of one bedroom/kitchen. The outhouse was in back. Tommy liked to do many things. He liked to help his mom clean the house/room.
He enjoyed playing outside with his ant friends and building forts using only the “big stick” his father had left behind after he disappeared two years ago when Tommy was three. The one thing he remembered about his father was the inordinate amount of time spent in the outhouse, waiting for his father to let him out.
Tommy’s life was a simple one, indeed, until it was time to go to kindergarten.
“C’mon, Tommy,” said his mother, “it’s time to go to kindergarten.” She nudged him as he lay on the cot. She lifted the sheet off him and he clutched the mattress, trying to bury himself in it.
“There’s nothing to be scared of.” She sat down on her side of the cot and put her hand on her son.
“We’ve already been over this.” She patted his head. “You’re going to love kindergarten.” Tommy turned onto his back and looked at his mom. She smiled as he reached up and hugged her.
“Gotcha,” she said as she swung him off the bed. Tommy stood still as his mom dressed him in his Sunday best/playclothes.
“Do you want to bring the ‘big stick’ with you?”
They left the house and began walking to town. Tommy felt the strong grip of his mother’s hand. He held the “big stick” with his other hand just as tightly. Whenever he looked at his mom, she just smiled.
“You’re a big boy now,” she said at one point.
Eventually, they reached the school house which stood close to Tire Mountain. As they passed the mountain, they saw many kids playing on it, yelling, laughing, and crawling through the labyrinth that had developed over the years. Children would always play in and on the tires, especially during recess since the school house was nearby. Nobody seemed to mind.
There had only been one accident since the pile was started. Well, it wasn’t really an accident. More of a mystery, really. Several years ago a little girl disappeared. Someone said that they last saw her playing in Tire Mountain. After a few weeks, the townsfolk sent all the children into the mountain to look for her (adults couldn’t fit through the passageways, although no adult had ever tried).
The children searched for an entire day, but all they found were her shoes and a strange book called the Gideon Bible whose contents, coincidentally, bore a striking resemblance to Old Man Simpson’s works of fiction which he had posted around town, garnering him much respect and admiration.
The grassroots effort to petition this blatant crime of plagiarism never did materialize. This was mostly due to Old Man Simpson himself who eased the minds of the townspeople by stating, “Never you mind. This Gideon fellow is certain to be caught sooner or later. If not by someone else, then maybe by his own conscience.”
Where was I? Oh yes, the girl. Well, she was never found. And the townsfolk unanimously decided against tearing down the mountain since it was already beginning to attract visitors.
Tommy and his mother arrived at the school house.
“Hello, Tommy,” said Miss Bickford, the school teacher.
Tommy lowered his head and nervously dug the “big stick” into the ground.
“Oh, you like to draw. Well, that’s good. We’re going to draw some pictures today. Does that sound like fun?”
Tommy looked at his mom.
“Be a good boy,” said his mom as she reached down to hug him. He brought the “big stick” close to his body and held on tight.
“C’mon, Tommy,” said Miss Bickford, “it’s time to go to kindergarten.”
Children of all ages sat behind their desks in the school house. All together, there were twenty-six students. Miss Bickford, it should be pointed out, became the obvious choice for school teacher when she explained her breakthrough idea of “one-a-day” teaching to the school board.
Instead of the traditional, same lesson for everybody technique which had mixed results, Miss Bickford suggested teaching a lesson geared for the youngest students on Monday, another lesson for the next age group on Tuesday, and so on. Of course, all students would benefit from whatever lesson day it was. Miss Bickford was praised and exalted from that day forward, but she still never got a date.
Tommy lucked out. The first day of school was a Monday.
“Today,” announced Miss Bickford, “we draw.” Some students cheered while others groaned. Tommy looked around. He had never drawn before.
Miss Bickford passed out paper and crayons, letting the children pick a color.
“I want blue,” some kids yelled.
“I want yellow,” others chanted.
“What color do you want, Tommy?” asked Miss Bickford. Tommy took the only crayon left.
“Okay,” said Miss Bickford as she stood at the front of the room. She lifted her arms up and closed her eyes.
Immediately, heads went down and hands began to move briskly. Tommy sat still, staring at his paper, then the crayon in his hand, and then at the “big stick” beside his desk. After watching the kids around him, he began to draw. He drew big lines. He drew circles. He drew more and more. He ended up using the entire page. Then he was done.
When everyone had finished, Miss Bickford walked from desk to desk, inspecting the art work.
“My, my, that’s very interesting.” She walked on.
“Oh, is that your pony?” she asked one girl.
Then she came to Tommy. She stared for minutes at his drawing, as if hypnotized.
“This...this is incredible,” she finally said. “The contrast, the depth, the shading. It’s the school house, isn’t it? It shows your anticipation, your fear, your...you’re brilliant!” With a magnificent shout, she drew out that last word.
Other students came to look at Tommy’s drawing.
“That’s not the school house,” said one girl. “It’s a beautiful sunset.”
“No, it’s not,” said another who had played with Tommy once before, “that’s his dumb stick that he pretends is a fort.”
“Children, please,” pleaded Miss Bickford, as she examined the drawing through her spectacles, which she had just pulled from her pocket. “This is simply amazing for a boy your age, Tommy.”
Tommy just looked at the “big stick.”
It didn’t take long for the news to spread throughout the town. By the end of the day, Tommy’s drawing had a frame and a special place on the wall inside the school house. When Tommy’s mother arrived to pick him up, she saw what all the commotion was about, but she didn’t tell anybody what her son had really drawn: his father.
Before too long, word spread beyond the town and more people began asking directions to the drawing, rather than Tire Mountain. It was soon apparent that the drawing could not stay in the school house because the steady stream of visitors was constantly disrupted by the students.
So the town got together and built a special building, just to house the drawing. Betty Jo Lynn and Mary Beth Sue became full-time volunteers, working to keep the whole thing organized. The town became well off in terms of money because all the visitors would buy stuff and eat a lot.
Meanwhile, Tommy and his mother became celebrities. The town built them a new house, got them new clothes, and catered to their every need. Things were going pretty well. Signs outside and throughout the town now read: This Way to The Drawing.
One day, the world’s most renowned art critic arrived to look at Tommy’s drawing. A giant crowd including Tommy, his mother, Miss Bickford, and anyone who was anyone in the town gathered to watch. The critic stood in the building and gazed at the drawing. He sighed and shook his head.
“I have never seen anything like it. The feelings, the emotions, the very essence of life. It has it all.” He lifted his arms in triumph, then brought them down and turned to Miss Bickford.
“This drawing of the creation of the universe is positively unparalleled, isn’t it?”
“Actually,” said Miss Bickford, “it’s a drawing of our school house.”
“Um,” interjected Tommy’s mother, “I never made a big deal about it before, but the drawing is definitely his father. His disappearance has always confused Tommy.”
Soon other people began to say what they thought the drawing was:
“It’s a rock trapped inside an avalanche.”
“No, it’s a train flying over the moon.”
“It looks like my mom in the morning.”
“I thought it was a bomb that represented starving children in Africa and failure of our society as a whole to come to the aid of our fellow man, while we kill foreigners with dangerous chemicals that harm the environment.”
The art critic quieted the crowd by waving his arms. Then he asked:
“Why don’t we just ask Tommy what he drew?”
The crowd looked at Tommy who stood there holding the “big stick.” He looked at his mom. She smiled. Then Tommy spoke for the first time.
“It’s Tire Mountain.”
The crowd stood quietly. Someone cleared their throat. Then it was silent again. The art critic looked at the drawing and then turned to see Tire Mountain. He looked back at the drawing.
He turned around and walked away. Miss Bickford shook her head and also walked away. She quit the next day and was never heard from again. One by one, the crowd departed. Some took a final look at the ordinary drawing, while others just couldn’t bear to see it again.
“I still think it looks like my mom in the morning,” someone was overheard saying.
When the crowd was gone, one person remained. A smiling Jack Tucker took the drawing off the wall, left the frame, and later tacked it on a wall in his tire shop, displaying it proudly.
It didn’t take long for the constant flow of tourists to die down into the previous trickle of travelers who made their way through the town, often stopping abruptly to add to Tire Mountain.
Tommy and his mother were forced to move back into their old house/room and continue on as they did before. They lost their new clothes. But it didn’t matter. Tommy still had the “big stick.”
So what’s the moral to this story?
Why, it’s quite obvious: Never hire a teacher who can’t get a date.