Little Bull Burson
“Little Bull” Burson was a youth of much promise before falling from the second-story Burson living quarters’ window and landing on his face. In fact, he was bound to be much smarter than either of his parents and “Big Bull” had hoped that his son would one day take over management of The Burson Company, which is Burson’s Hardware. The unfortunate fall resulted in Little Bull being mentally damaged and twisted his features somewhat to the right, except for his nose, which pretty much stayed where it had always been, though now there was an eye directly above it. And so he has been barred for life from using power tools, an even greater tragedy for the son of a hardware store owner, especially since Little Bull has a thriving business of his own, making and selling knotty pine knickknacks for which Big Bull, who never leaned out a window, does the cutting, the drilling if holes are needed, and the gluing as well since Little Bull eats glue like I eat pudding. The only things he is permitted to use unsupervised are 220 grit sandpaper, steel wool, and tack rags, all of which he dislikes both the taste and texture.
He also paints the knickknacks under adult supervision but Little Bull does not eat the paint, except for the mint green color that reminds him of the guacamole dip his mother makes for the 4th of July Burson-McElroy family picnic which is not really a picnic, being held in the basement of Hibb’s Department Store on account of my Aunt Ada, who is distantly related, having had skin cancer and not being able to sit in the sun. Mr. and Mrs. Burson, who do not generally agree on very many things apart from church doctrine, their preference for white cars, and baseball, decided once, after much serious consideration, that they would remove the mint green from Little Bull’s palette, but that particular hue being so essential for making the lighter spots on the whirligig-bullfrogs which Little Bull is so fond of creating, they decided that it would be unwise to remove the color and deprive the frogs of their trademark tint, especially since they have become Little Bull’s best selling flagship craft and can be seen in nearly every yard in town, half of which people bought them out of sympathy for the boy and half on account of living in a blue-collar town and therefore not lacking the sophistication to realize that sloppily painted bright green knotty pine bullfrogs with spinning legs on pvc posts are not an attractive addition to the landscape arts. So his parents decided the responsible course would be to sit Little Bull at the table and educate him on the danger of eating acrylic paint, Mr. Burson suggesting that his wife could whip up a bowl of dip to place adjacent to a bowl of the mint green paint and teach him the difference, both in taste and consistency, but it being so difficult to sit Little Bull at a table for any reason, they finally gave up and mutually agreed the best plan of attack was mutual supervision while he painted, the same as if he was sanding, which was not an attractive thought since eight o’clock, the time that Little Bull normally began his work, was also the time the Bursons enjoyed their son’s quiet concentration by watching television, but if that was going to be a problem they should have shut the window.
Little Bull and I fish together on occasion and although he is obviously not bright, he’s no more not bright than quite a few other people in town who don’t have such an excuse. Other than his penchant for eating things that are not generally edible, he’s as normal in action as anyone and is one of our finest citizens: always helping a neighbor, pitching in when work is needed, and he has a capacity for unselfish kindness that eludes the best of us. I don’t know what he’d have been like if he hadn’t fallen from the window. He may have been smarter, but he couldn’t have been a better person. He’s already there.
The window from which Little Bull fell is visible in the postcard reproduced above, taken when the building was home to the Sanderling Hotel. To read about the hotel and a famous guest click here.