LINDSAY — Although a fierce blue and black
After all, the ashes of his old schoolhouse and the fire-hot dust of last summer's drought prompted the unlikely transformation of my father, Dale Jones, into the creator of the recently released book.
Despite his fervent
“The book, oh, I think it's just marvelous,” said fellow Bradley area denizen L.B. Hoyle. “Dale has done a yeoman's job on this, and had it not been for him, there would've never been any records or history of Bradley as he knew it back several years ago. I mean, he's to be commended.
“Had it not been for Dale doing this, it would have just fell by the wayside. No one would have ever endeavored on that, and if it hadn't have been a dry year farming, Dale wouldn't have had time to do it,” Hoyle added with a laugh.
“Best thing that came out of the drought.”
Rather than dwelling on his crops burning up in the relentless triple-digit temperatures last summer, my dad decided to delve into the history of his dwindling hometown. Preserving that history had been on his mind since fall 2009, when he attended for his first time the annual reunion of the Bradley Alumni Association. Among that crowd of about 75 graybeards and grandmothers with whom he grew up, he was reminded that he will forever be the youngest of the Bradley Dragons. Now 61, he was the baby of the class of 1968, the school's last graduating class of Bradley High School.
At that 2009 reunion, he experienced a troubling realization: The keepers of his hometown's history were getting older, while the community itself was becoming more and more of a ghost town.
A year later, the abandoned Bradley schoolhouse, built in 1940 by the Works Progress Administration, burned out. The stately stone facade was left fragilely standing, but the inside was gutted by the fire. He realized then that soon no tangible sign would be left of the place where he made so many memories, unless someone in his generation
He made numerous
For the book, my dad even got a local photographer to shoot the Bradley senior class panels, which still hang in the Bradley Community Center. Besides a smattering of houses, a few shuttered businesses, a relatively new playground and a post office that has been targeted for possible closure, the center is one of the few landmarks that remain in his hometown. But the bustling past of the community and school is now carefully preserved in the nearly 700 pages of “The Chronicles of Bradley.”
“Bradley was a neat little town. Everyone kept their places just manicured back when I was about 12, 13 years old. Little white picket fences across the front of the places,” Hoyle recalled, pointing out of a photo in the book of himself at age 17, his foot jauntily propped on the running board of his dad's 1941 Ford pickup.
“But if you wanted
“I get up in the mornings real early and sit there and read it and laugh and laugh and laugh about things I had forgotten,” Hoyle's wife, Inadean, added.
For such a small town, the demand has been pretty impressive: Of the