Tom Theiss was my neighbor from sixth grade to our sophomore year in high school. I know this is hard to imagine, but those were very awkward years for me. I was pretty much a first class geek. (or maybe even second class). I suppose we both were. Tom and I loved playing outdoors down by our creek that ran past my backyard. We would run down there after school and spend the entire afternoon catching crawdads and tadpoles. We were both members of the Outing and Nature Club in Jr. High. (I told you we were geeks).
When we weren’t down at the creek, we were building forts in one of the vacant lots in our neighborhood. We would take scrap lumber from one of the houses under construction and build us a “no girls allowed” fort. I don’t really remember doing anything in the forts once we built them, but we had a good time building them anyway.
It was during this time when I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn and I learned about the concept of becoming “blood brothers.” Huck and Tom decided to seal their friendship in blood, so they took out a pocketknife and sliced the ends of their fingers and held them together in an oath of friendship. One day when my buddy and I were sitting in our fort, I suggested we become blood brothers. But neither of us had a knife, so instead we both began looking for scabs on our elbows and legs that we could pick, in order to draw some blood. Unable to find any good scabs; the whole ordeal became rather awkward and I don’t think we were able to consummate our blood brotherhood that day.
I never heard what happened to Tom. I moved to another city in 11th grade and we lost touch. A few years ago, the Liberty High school class of 76 put out an invitation for a 35-year class reunion. Someone posted a list of deceased classmates and that’s when I discovered that Tom was dead. I have attempted to find out what happened but have had no luck up to this point getting any details. I only hope that he knew how special our friendship was during those awkward years of our youth. He was a great friend and I’ll always remember him fondly.