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It’s early summer, 1971, and school has just recessed. Benjamin Thomas, a typical eleven-year-old boy, has his hopes set on three months of escapades unchecked by the tedium of teachers and books and classrooms. The first few weeks of unadulterated storytelling, exuberant play at The Park, treasure hunting in Piney Forest, rescuing ripe fruit from neighbors’ trees, and a host of deeds and misdeeds, send Ben, his sisters, and his best friends well on their way to an unforgettable summer of fun. . . But then Vincent Solomon comes to town, bringing with him the ideals and enthusiasm of the civil rights movement. And some very grown-up problems festering both outside and inside of Ben’s community. Soon, Ben’s summer escapades turn into a crusade, which then quickly spirals toward a double lynching with Ben and his family caught right in the middle. . .
Set in Bradentown, Florida, Escapades on Third Street takes readers on a journey filled with a memorable cast of African-American characters set against a backdrop of southern culture and conflict along racial, class, and generational lines. Escapades on Third Street delves into the rich heritage of one southern African-American community—probing the interdependence based on its shared faith, painful history, hopeful future, gritty humor, soulful music, and struggle for survival—to explore the conflicts seething just beneath the surface that forever change Ben Thomas’ life.
Gregory Rutledge was born in Bradenton, Florida, and reared on Third Street. He is a graduate of Emory University (1989), where he studied English literature and philosophy, and the University of Florida Colleges of Law and Journalism & Communications (1992). Greg practiced law in Atlanta for about four years before returning to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in Afro-American Studies (1999) and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in English literature. Greg’s plan to write a novel germinated while he was in law school, and became a work in progress in January, 1993. His family has lived on Third Street for several generations. Escapades on Third Street is his debut novel.