Paternal / STRETCH

I got an email Sunday from a boy, now 15, who I helped raise for a couple of years. His dad had boogied on the family, and the mom was left on her own with three kids. This boy lived with us off and on for quite awhile, being close to one of my sons. In time he and I grew quite close: he needed a father figure, and I never tire of extending that to any kid. Canoe trips, camping trips, furtive climbs into Plaza bell towers when the Christmas lights are up, rock concerts, dinners together, endless practical jokes, endless water fights, baseball games at the corner lot, and the occasional lunch at Kin Lin. Talks about sex, unwanted pregnancy, and all the kids who will try to get him high–on pot, oxycontin, ecstasy, you name it. We talked a lot. I love this kid very deeply. When he and his family had to move away, it left a gaping hole in my life; I was concerned over whether he would get the guidance he needed. But as with many situations in life, you sometimes have to let things shape themselves. Besides, he’s only three hours distant. I still see him a few times a year. We have a camping trip planned for spring. Lord he’s so bright, full of such potential. I hope I helped him tap into some of it.

Will I always be there for this boy? Like any devoted teacher, I’ll always be there for any kid I ever coached, taught, or loved. It’s merely a privilege.

If you live in Kansas City, and you know anything about the Crossroads, or Grinders, or rusting steel, then you know about Stretch. I can’t decide which is of greater character: he, or his sculpture. Anyway that’s one of his pieces above. We placed a similar work, though not this one, at the OP Convention Center. Why? Because its raw beauty, and raw passion, were a perfect contrast to some the more polished works there. I’m a pretty big believer in contrast–with both art and kids.

This piece is at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center. No other gallery like it in town. You can also see Stretch’s work at

This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Paul. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply