Every man, woman and child was afraid of him. The mere mention of the name “Andrew” sent a ripple of fear through the village.
Quansett is a small town in the upper peninsula of the state. The time was 1892, the gilded age for cities, where wealth was showy and city people lived fancy.
But, the good folks of Quansett were hundreds of miles apart from the modernization of society, and new inventions had not yet reached the outposts of civilization. Life was simple, yet the problem of Andrew was complicated.
What can be done about a bully?
Andrew was physically imposing. He was a giant of a man. The doctor’s measuring stick had him at 6ft 8 inches. His weight held steady at 300 pounds. His arms were thick and muscles clearly defined. The trunk of his body was solid and strong. His long legs were massive.
When Andrew came to town his footprints told the tale. Mrs. Cleary measured them one muddy day with her sewing tape, and declared to anyone who would listen (and many did) “As God is my witness, the size of those feet is 20 inches long!”
Rumors by the townspeople abound, and gossip about Andrew was almost always unkind. Even the Pastor Clark, who was a meek man by nature, could be heard sharing a story about an incident of abuse incited by Andrew.
The mayor and his council did not know how to deal with the misdeeds of their notorious citizen. The sherif was powerless when faced with such immense brute strength. No one ever confronted big Andrew McClanahan until the day when little Jimmy Lind acted upon his good instincts.
It was autumn and the little town of Quansett looked like a picture postcard. So beautiful were the trees in all their seasonal glory. Happy were the children playing after school in the town square. The air was crisp but the sun was strong and no heavy jackets were required.
Jimmy was playing kickball with a pack of boys. His friend Henry gave the red rubber ball a good whack and it shot low in the air and flew past its intended target, landing on the road a good distance north.
Right on the spot where Andrew stood.
In fact, that ball rolled right between the two size twenty feet of the town’s “giant”.
Jimmy called out to the big man ” Please sir, kick our ball back to us.” No response. The ball stayed put. Andrew stayed put.
Jimmy ran closer and stopped half way. Maybe he could not hear. “Sir, over here. Please toss the ball.” Again, no response.
Jimmy walked the rest of the way over to where their ball, and Andrew, waited. His friends were huddled in fear back in the square. A larger group gathered to watch.
“Sir, you have our ball. May I?” As he reached down to get the ball lying in the dirt at Andrew’s feet, the giant man roared “What do you think you’re doing? Who are you to approach me?!!”
Jimmy didn’t flinch. He calmly and firmly answered. “I am Jimmy Lind, and this is my ball. I have come to retrieve it.”
Andrew had never been talked to in such a manner as this. In fact there wasn’t a civil verbal exchange that Andrew could ever recall. He responded with another loud roar, this one less of a sentence and more of a growl.
Unfazed, Jimmy remained right where he was.
Andrew reached down and grabbed little Jimmy at the back of his shirt collar. He lifted him up until they were face to face, Andrew’s bushy beard brushing Jimmy’s cheeks.
Jimmy reached out and did the oddest thing.
He gently stroked the beard as he looked Andrew in the eyes. Next thing he knew, the beard was coming off in his small hand. It wasn’t true whiskers at all, it was merely fastened on the big man’s face with string.
Andrew was struck silent by the exposure. It was only seconds, but in the short span of time it took a little boy to stroke a (seemingly) hairy face, transformation took place. God was in that moment.
Jimmy was released from Andrew’s grip. Silently he kicked the ball forward. It took a little roll. Jimmy reached down to grab it. “Thanks mister!” He said, as if nothing unusual was going on.
Andrew turned and walked on.