From insurance salesman to electronics engineer, including photography and real estate, Larry D. Hawkins’ work history doesn’t give a hint of what poured from his heart in his book, “The Misadventures of Joe Bradley Mullins.”
Hawkins has lived in Cleveland since he was 7. His family is originally from Bucks Pocket in the southeastern part of the county. A 1969 graduate of Bradley Central High School in 1968, Hawkins went to the Tennessee College of Automation in Knoxville, majoring in electronic engineering. He is married to his high school sweetheart and wife of 44 years, Sha-Ron, who is a loan officer for the North Branch of Tennessee Federal Credit Union in Cleveland. They have three children: Misty Dawn, a teacher at Woodmore Elementary in Chattanooga; Dale, and his wife, Amanda, who lives in Sevierville and is a department manager for Family Dollar Stores; and Dustin and wife, Sheri, who is a contractor and is a builder in Cleveland; and four grandchildren: Hannah Renea and Luke Tanner, children of Dustin and Sheri; and Nathan Dale and Olivia Lynn Hawkins, children of Dale and Amanda Hawkins.
“The Misadventures of Joe Bradley Mullins” is not his first endeavor and “success.” During his years as youth minister at new Salem Baptist Church, he and his wife began creating new ways to teach the youth group about the word of God. They developed a Bible game, “Do You Know Your Bible?,” which was produced and distributed within a three-state region. Since then, the Hawkinses have written several books and eight other games, as well as songs and a book of poetry, “In Dreams I Dwell.”
His new book started out as simple bedtime stories for his granddaughter, Hannah Renea Hawkins. “We would tell her about Joe Bradley and his wild adventures every time she spent the night with us,” Hawkins said, “and it quickly became apparent that I would need to write down what I had already told her so as to not repeat the same adventure again.”
He said he soon found himself “becoming Joe Bradley” as he wrote about him. “I began to relate personal adventures, as well as those of my friends and loved ones, especially of my beloved brother, Randy Hawkins,” Hawkins explained.
After a couple of years, Hawkins said, he found that “Joe Bradley had lived a very adventurous life.” And as he assembled them into book form, he realized he had enough for two long novels. He decided it was time to seek out a publisher who would “see them as I did and not want a lot of changes.”
Hawkins said he thought he was ready for rejections, but had no idea he would get as many as he did. “It wasn’t that they didn’t like what I had written as much as it was the dialect of the characters represented in the book,” he said. “I did not want to change it at all as it would take away from the meaning of the book itself,” he added. “So, I continued my search.”
He found a Christian publisher who liked what he submitted and did not want to change anything at all, and believed in being ethical in all of its dealings with its authors. Hawkins said when he saw the integrity in the way the company worked, he immediately chose to go with them. So, after six months of reading, re-reading, proofing time and time again, the “Joe Bradley Mullins” book was finished.
“The Misadventures of Joe Bradley Mullins” covers a boy’s journey from St. Joseph, Mo., to his aunt’s house in Shawnee, Mo. Not only did he start with a wild train ride, but he encountered grizzly bears, a pack of hungry wolves, Sasquatch, gypsy twins, a lion and tiger and actually waking up in jail — all on the way to his aunt’s house. And the hike up the Mississippi was no dream trip. His memories tie up with reality as he fills in the background while moving on up the river toward Shawnee.
After the sheriff delivered him to his Aunt Sue’s house — four days late — the story continues over the next six months in Shawnee. “Life in the City” is Part 2 of Joe Bradley’s adventures after “quite a trip,” the sheriff tells his aunt about her favorite nephew. From trouble-maker to hero, Joe Bradley steals the hearts of some and aggravates others. His antics involved bears, skunks and bats. Whether at the circus or at a church picnic, being kidnapped or flying through the air, Joe Bradley always managed to find adventure.
And why did the whole town celebrate this “rascal of a boy” and his friend Shack? Read how Aunt Sue took in Shack as one of “her boys.” Tears flowed from Shack’s eyes as he slipped into a bed — he had never slept in a bed. Shack could never think of anything better than this — “somebody loves me.”
The battle with the squirrels and the fish story — outrunnng the buckshot — comes near the end of the book.
“Life is grand,” conclude the two boys — just like brothers.
The characters of “The Misadventures of Joe Bradley Mullins,” along with their relationships and descriptions are listed at the back of the book. It is suggested you read these first to give an insight in the progression of the saga and understand each of their roles.
Hawkins said many who have read the book said they found themselves engulfed in the personality and antics of Joe Bradley. “We have tested it with readers as young as 9 and as old as 83,” he said, “and all have loved it. It is easy to read and the action really moves fast.” He added that it is one book you just don’t want to put down.
The author said he found himself wanting to continue with Joe Bradley’s adventures. Book number two is almost ready, he confides, and “I have some adventures already lined up for book number three.”
The 293-page “Misadventures of Joe Bradley Mullins” is published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises LLC. The official release date is Sept. 15. The author will have a book signing on July 27 from noon to 4 p.m. at The Retreat at Spring Creek (25th Street) in the clubhouse. Contact Hawkins at email@example.com.
Poem from the book, “In Dreams I Dwell”
by Larry Hawkins
It was written in celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976.
The Flag of America,
how beautiful is its’ name,
Ole Glory, the Bountiful,
and the home of the U.S.A.
America, the Beautiful,
the land of the Brave,
The Home of the Courageous, and a refuge for the slave.
The Red, the White,
and the Blue, with the U.S. Continental Band,
Through wars and battles, and even now,
she proudly stands.
Yes, when mighty England withdrew her pressing hand,
Through God Almighty, America came
to shape this land.
From the hulls of the ships the cries could be heard,
As mighty men sought God’s help from His Holy Word.
From hours of praying and pages of scrolls they say,
The Mayflower Compact was made with God that day.
So, Americans, be thankful you’re in the land of the Free,
Instead of a land across
the wide and rolling sea.
Where there’s fighting and raging along every street,
While in America, our peace is sure and liberty is sweet.
So, be glad my friend, as our precious flag waves high,
That the Red, White, and Blue will forever part the sky.
And, if one day, the skies do part and burst with thunder,
Then, we’ll stand tall, and heed the call, and Ole’ Glory
Won’t go U-N-D-E-R!