Not Far from the Tree – Short Story


My father was a salesman. One of the best. He could sell ketchup popsicles to a woman in white gloves in August. His work with a local manufacturing company had him on the road most days covering a territory that ranged from North Carolina to Maine. He drove more miles in a month than some drive in a year. And in his travels, he took advantage of this access to other states and their goods.

One of these advantages was access to fireworks from states in the south that were banned for use in Pennsylvania. It is a common purchase for families travelling who hope to impress friends and family at their next celebration at home. Not being one to pass up on a bargain, my father bought a huge number of different fireworks and smuggled them back into the state. I am not sure what his original intentions were for them, but at some point, he gave me the box with explicit instructions on being careful when playing with them with my neighborhood friends. Hey, that was good parenting back then. Remember, we didn’t have seat belts then either.

After some testing with the local lads in a farmer’s field near the house, I still had a ton of fireworks left. I saw an opportunity and went full entrepreneur. I made a price list for all the wonderfully named products and distributed it to classmates at school. They would place their orders, and I would deliver them at school the next day and get paid cash on the barrel head. My zero costs business model made for a huge profit margin. Something my accounting friends can appreciate, Jim. Although, nothing was priced at more than a dollar and a half, I was making a good bit of change through sheer volume.

Sadly, within a few days of starting my enterprise, one of my customers got caught in class with the price list. It didn’t take a detective for it to lead back to me. I had written my name, homeroom class number, and telephone number at the top of each. Needless to say, I was forced to cease and desist. An eventuality that could not have been avoided at some point, as I had no plans on how to restock my wares.

After my troubles at school, I anticipated what punishments may lie ahead for me at home. My mother, also a public-school teacher, was embarrassed and upset (again). But as would often happen, she was going to leave the heavy-handed punishment to my father when he got home. My father made me recall my plot from beginning to end. And, although he may have felt a need for some form of punishment, he also seemed somewhat proud at my entrepreneurial spirit and innate sales ability. In the end, my only punishment was having the remaining fireworks confiscated. In his wisdom, the old man knew that the tree doesn’t get to tell the acorn where to fall.


25 Responses to “Not Far from the Tree – Short Story”
  1. yassy says:

    Good stuff , Brad. I enjoyed this.

  2. beth says:

    and he was so right.

  3. Francisco Bravo Cabrera says:

    Well, your father was so right…and it was quite an enjoyable story Brad.

  4. Francine says:

    I do not fall far from my fathers tree as well 🙂

  5. KK says:

    A beautiful story! Your father was right indeed.

  6. I know more than most of your readers how closely the acorn fell from the tree. Even if dad had been angry, secretly he would have admired your ingenuity to find a way to make money, since that was always the bottom line for him! Great story!

  7. Jim Borden says:

    I too, love the entrepreneurial spirit. I guess in hindsight you should have set up an LLC using a fictitious name. And hopefully you sent your profits to an offshore bank account. Today they should be worth millions…

    Loved the contrast in how your parents reacted to the news!

  8. petespringerauthor says:

    Great story! Did your entrepreneurial spirit resurface later?

  9. I’m still stuck marveling at the notion of selling ketchup popsicles to a white-gloved woman in August.

  10. jonicaggiano says:

    I love this story. Doesn’t surprise me either. I can just see you sitting down , preparing a detailed plan and making enough dough to buy three jars of candy. Wow, I bet your dad was proud. I hope you will share more of your childhood stories. Love, hugs and fireworks 💥 Jonikins

    • Brad Osborne says:

      As poetry has been a struggle lately, I do plan on sharing a few more stories from my past. At least no one has asked me to stop just yet. Thanks for all your support and love Jonikins!

      • jonicaggiano says:

        I really enjoyed your story Brad. I am looking forward to reading more about your childhood memories. It was a great story Brad. Sending you big hugs and love, Jonikins 🤗❤️🙏

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