I never knew James Dean. But I know his films. Yesterday – September 29, 1955, At approximately 5:15pm, James Dean left Blackwells Corner, CA driving west on Route 466 (now State Route 46) toward Paso Robles, approximately 60 miles away. His new, 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder crested Polonio Pass and headed down the long Antelope Grade toward the junction floor at Route 466 and Route 41. At approximately 5:45pm, a black-and-white 1950 Ford Tudor coupe driven by 23-year-old Cal Poly student Donald Turnupseed, turned left onto Route 41, toward Fresno and right into the path of Dean and his Spyder, doing 85 mph. Dean crashed head-on into Turnupseed at 85 mph. A witness, John Robert White, claims to have seen the Spyder smash into the ground several times in cartwheels. Dean died in the ambulance on the way to the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, 28 miles away. He was 24 years old. He is best known for his films, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), East of Eden (1955), and Giant (1956, released posthumously). The characters he portrayed were brooding, edgy, dangerous. Jett Rink (Giant), Jim Stark (Rebel Without a Cause), and Cal Trask (East of Eden), set the tone for an emerging generation of disaffected and angry teens. His was a short life, lived at full speed. His legacy is a handful of memorable performances enshrined in film.
I never knew LB Bradshaw, but he has touched my life. About a week ago, “LB” Little Byron Bradshaw went to sleep. Sometime during the night he stopped breathing and his life on earth came to an end. Those who loved him and his mom, Laurel, and his dad, Byron, mourn LB’s passing. But we are not without hope. We will see him again in heaven because all of us are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. LB would have been two years old today, Wednesday, September 30, 2015. He wasn’t old enough to understand that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. But I believe the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus is efficient for those who lack the capacity to believe, and that includes little ones like LB. There are sophisticated theological arguments for my convictions, but we can boil it down to the merciful and gracious character of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Unlike James Dean, LB never made a film bigger than you could fit on an iPhone. He was no angst-sotted Rebel, speeding down a desert highway looking for his next thrill to fill up the void of an empty life. LB was just a sweet little boy. He leaves a legacy of innocence and laughter and love that, by God’s grace, will provide strength for his family until they see each other again.
LB, I wish we could have met. I look forward to the day that we will.