He lives and sits amid childhood memories that play like a serendipitous slide show in his mind.
His older sister chasing him through the house with a butcher knife to scare the bejabbers out of him.
Or his father literally sledgehammering the used lawnmower to death when the weary lawn cutter stubbornly refused to pull-start no matter how much he cussed and fumed and yanked.
Pete Law smiles broadly at such scenes of his past. The 42-year-old Hope native figures others can grin and laugh at such recollections that offer an every-man feel to his television-fueled formative years of the 1970s and ’80s.
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“Diff’rent Strokes” was among his favorite shows, but he guesses most of his upbringing involved the same stories as others.
“A lot of people who grew up then will get a lot of the references,” Law said, mentioning that even small segments of TV show themes play in the background. “I wanted to make it kind of universal. I didn’t want it to be exclusively Hope-driven.”
He will present his self-penned and autobiographical one-man show, “The Laws of Jackson Street” opening Feb. 10 through 12 and continuing the following weekend at Willow Leaves of Hope, 326 Jackson St. on the historic Hope Town Square.
It helps that Law lives and writes at his childhood home, 626 Jackson St., just a few blocks from where he will resurrect time with parents that he describes as “if Archie Bunker had been married to (TV character) Maude.”
The comic ghosts of yesteryear often pass only a filmy, short distance from wherever he unwinds at the home now filled with movie posters, James Dean images, and formative-years toys ranging from old G.I. Joes to Smurf figurines.
While he continues to tweak the script for the 75-minute production, he has declined to allow sibling and Hope resident Amy Banks, seven years older than him, to read any material beforehand. So she has issued a playful warning.
“I guess I am going to have to sit with a microphone in the audience and say, ‘That right there is just not true,’” Banks said with a laugh.
He cannot omit his sister. Especially not when, in a pre-DVR era, she as a teenager forced him on summer days to sit inside as a primary grader and watch her favorite soaps and report plot twists to her while she worked on her tan outdoors.
The seed for the production came from one of his two summer sessions at Chicago’s The Second City, where he has honed everything from his writing to comedic improv skills as an actor. Last summer, he participated in a workshop on building a one-person show.
“But I’ve had the idea to tell stories about my family for a long time,” he said.
He believes that the arts can bleed from the stage to all segments of life to change and shape people — and even help strugglers face adversity.
“Sometimes today, it can seem like there’s negativity all around,” Law said. “So I believe that sometimes we have to look to nostalgia to help us appreciate life a little more. Even writing this has helped me overcome a lot of grief.”
He lost his parents within six years of one another and never fully acknowledged the loss until recently. He smiles when he thinks of his mother’s reaction to the upcoming show.
“She probably would say, ‘Pete, I’ll put your name in the prayer basket at church,’” he said.
He chuckles about his trucker father and his bad luck with mowers, and his sometimes blue language. Yes, he remembers his recreating that classic scenario must adhere to community standards in a town founded by a Christian missionary.
“We’ll be bleeping a lot of that scene,” he said.
What: Pete Law’s one-man show, “The Laws of Jackson Street,” highlighting the comic episodes of his childhood in Hope.
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 10-11 and Feb. 17-18; 2 p.m. Feb. 12 and 19.
Where: Willow Leaves of Hope, 326 Jackson St. on on the historic Hope town square.
Tickets: Advance tickets $15, available at the venue. $18 at the door.
Food and drink: Available before the show.