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By Robert Gately

GENRE: Drama, Family
LOGLINE: An emotionally challenged dad, who most believe suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress, or worse, suddenly must prove he’s ‘normal’ or be judge by the legal system as incapacitated when his wife dies and his daughter sues for financial control of the estate. (Christmas time)


The mother dies, the dad’s emotionally challenged, and one of the two daughters is suing dad for financial control of the multi-million dollar estate. That’s the setup of South of Main Street, a heartwarming story named for the dividing line that exists between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in a fictitious town of Coalsville, Pennsylvania. The story centers on Henry who most believe is a simpleton or suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress from a war long forgotten. Sharon, the younger of his two daughters, thinks Henry is irresponsible and sues for control of the estate left by her mother. The eldest daughter, Robin, wants Henry to handle his own affairs. The two daughters do battle, but Sharon takes the lead when she finds out one of the benefactors of Henry’s generosity is Dixie, the local ‘floozy’ - a word given to her by the gossipy-types who live on the right side of Main Street, the north side. Henry ties a rope to a tree and swings like Tarzan from his roof to retrieve the mail; gives money to whomever; and provides questionable direction to a young boy who copes with an absent mother and an alcoholic father - all questionable behavior Sharon will tell the judge. But if Sharon’s not careful the family secret might emerge and no one in the Wolff family wants that. Still, Henry’s love for children is misunderstood by everyone, especially when seen through the eyes of a mother whose son insists that he can fly because ‘Henry said I could’. The boy jumps out the barn hayloft and breaks his arm and lies unconscious in the hospital. All seems lost for our ‘dim-witted’ hero who now has to convince the judge that he is not a public menace. At first, the testimonies portray Henry as a threat to society, and the family’s secret leaks out while the sisters do battle, exposing Henry’s true vulnerability and why he is the way he is. But it’s the children who help the judge realize there’s more to Henry than meets the eye. For example, Danny tells the judge his version of what happened in Henry’s garden where Danny was helping the elder neighbor clear the yard of rocks. Yes, while they talked about Danny’s problems, Henry kept putting heavy rocks into Danny’s backpack that was strapped to his shoulders. And, yes, eventually Danny slammed his backpack to the ground and called Henry a moron for not using his own backpack. But what the Judge didn’t know was Henry had an ulterior motive. That day he explained to Danny he didn’t have to carry the world on his shoulders. All Danny had to do was throw his emotional issues to the ground, just like he did with the heavy backpack. No one could have predicted the series of events resulting from this courtroom fracas. As it turns out, Henry is not crazy at all. In fact, he has a kind of wisdom that he shares with people. All Henry wants is forgiveness for a mistake he made a long time ago. And no one could have predicted what effect Henry’s life would have on everyone. As Dixie explains, a boy or a girl might grow up and become president, and will tell stories to historians about where they came from. One might say, ‘I’m a native son or daughter born on the south side of Main Street in an obscure town in Pennsylvania.’ And no one will ever know that embedded in this statement is a story of how one person made a difference to so many; of how his goodness spread far and wide like the ubiquitous wind; and how life for so many improved immeasurably, not because this good Samaritan had money, status or political influence, but because he saw life through the eyes of a child.


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