Friday, February 23, 2018
Human Interest

Looking Back: 7-year-old Tommy gets a loaf of bread for Mom . . . eventually (January 29, 1964)

This photo essay appeared in the pages of the St. Petersburg Times on January 29, 1964. What follows is the text of the original story, interspersed with photos taken by Times staff photographer Ron Wahl.

A boy, though still under Nature's protection and not yet able to guide himself, left loose to the world and fortune, revels in his youth as the hour wherein he ought to enjoy life to its fullest extent; and, because he wishes not to waste his time, spends it.

He seldom does anything he would not do again. He is like a ship without a pilot, a safari without a guide; and only the hands of Nature and good fortune guide him.

This is the fate of all young boys and of 7 1/2-year-old Eugene "Tommy" Thomas Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Thomas, 1842 Nebraska Ave. Tommy is in the second grade at Shore Acres Elementary School.

Tommy typically illustrates what a mother can expect when she sends her favorite boy on an errand to the store – in this case for a loaf of bread.

After purchasing the bread at the store, Tommy decided to try his hand at some amateur acrobatics, but soon gives this up to examine a tree stump.

RON WAHL | Times

Back of photo

RON WAHL | Times

Meeting a friend along the way, Tommy finds that the loaf of bread makes a good substitute for a football, and a few plays from scrimmage are in the offing.

RON WAHL | Times

Back of photo

Remembering that mom had said to come right home, Tommy leaves his friend and, tossing the bread lightly in his hands, resumes his journey homeward.

RON WAHL | Times

Back of photo

Soon Tommy realizes that the wrapping around the bread has given away to the youthful play and decides mom won't mind if he enjoys a few slices from the loaf.

RON WAHL | Times

Back of photo

The bread once again takes a sideline seat as Tommy tests his strength with a neighborhood friend before rounding the corner to home.

RON WAHL | Times

Back of photo

Apologetically, Tommy hands the battered and partially devoured loaf of bread to his mother.

RON WAHL | Times

Back of photo

Mother had rather suspected this might be the outcome of Tommy's trip to the store; but she wouldn't have Tommy, or Jimmy, or Johnny, or whatever her son's name might be, any other way – for she understands the world of her son and his life's little detours.

To order reprints or download any image from this story, please visit the Times image archive.

Tim Rozgonyi

Twitter: @timrozgonyi

e-mail: [email protected]

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