Sunday, February 27, 2011
Thoughts About My Grandfather
Jul 31, 2009
When I was in West Virginia my Dad wasn’t really into being at the family reunion. My Dad said that he was missing his father. For those who don’t know, my Grandfather passed away in September of 2006. I got to thinking there’s a lot of great stories about my Grandfather that are definitely worth telling. They are definitely worth their own post.
There’s an old saying about how you can judge a person based on not how they treat their equals, but how they treat those underneath him. My Grandfather was loved by all sorts of animals. He took care of all the feral cats that lived underneath the house. For those who don’t understand, in a farm type atmosphere you have a lot of cats to eat the mice and rodents. Feral cats usually don’t come near anyone, but they loved my Grandfather. I have to admit the cats wouldn’t come near me, or anyone else. But they were very comfortable around my Grandfather.
My Grandfather also took in abused dogs. He had a dachshund named Brandy that he rescued from an abusive home. Brandy was never comfortable around any male except for my Grandfather. The person who abused Brandy was a man, that’s why she was never comfortable around any male no matter if it was a kid or adult.
Here’s a strange story, my Grandfather’s name is Ray. That’s what his Mom named him, and he had no problem with that. However when he was drafted into the U.S. Army he was named John. Why you ask? Well, the Army looked up his birth certificate, and it said his name was John. He searched around, and found out an unbelievable truth. When he was born his Mom gave her Sister the birth certificate to file. His Mom named him Ray. His Aunt changed the name on the birth certificate after her husband John. The funny thing is he never liked that Aunt.
A lot of people have varying opinions on firearms. However in a farm type setting a shotgun is a very useful tool. I saw him shoot a groundhog that had been eating his beans. In fact, I have a good picture of him holding the just shot groundhog.
My grandfather had to battle a whole flock of starlings. For those who don’t know what starlings are they are small black birds. They are like small crows. When the corn was ripening this huge flock of about 300 starlings came in and was eating the corn. Well, my Grandfather would go out there, and shoot the starlings. They would fly to the other side of the river, and wait until my Grandfather would go inside. Then they would come back. Then my Grandfather would come back out, and shoot some more starlings. Just for the heck of it, he shot across the river, and actually hit a starling sitting on a tree branch. He said he was shooting just to shoot, and scare them off. However, he surprised himself by hitting one of them. Eventually, the starlings gave up, and went on to other crop fields.
My Grandfather was a human jukebox. He knew so many gospel, big band, and country songs it was amazing. While he worked as a carpenter he would sing all day long. You have to remember when he started as a carpenter they didn’t have portable radios like they do now. So you had to make your own music. He would sing all the time. He must have known 10,000 or more songs.
My Grandfather was an honest humanitarian. He grew four times as much food in his garden as needed. The reason was that upwards of four families ate out of that garden. I remember Conard (their great neighbor) came over to “borrow a potato.” That is true. I saw it with my own eyes.
My Grandfather also donated a lot of food to his church. In fact, my Grandparents once loaded their Reverend’s front porch with corn. There’s a great story behind this. The Reverend and his Wife needed corn, so my Grandparents stacked corn about five feet high on the Reverend’s porch. The Reverend and his Wife then had to shuck, scrape, and can all that corn. They stayed up all night dealing with the corn. So at church, the Reverend said that he was exhausted from dealing with all the corn. He then teased my Grandmother a bit more. She then shot back that she had a lot more corn in the garden, and it might end up on a certain Reverend’s front porch. The Reverend then hushed up pretty quick. However, two bushels of tomatoes did mysteriously end up on the Reverend’s front porch.
Speaking of tomatoes, I once helped my Grandfather deliver 12 bushels of tomatoes to my Grandmother’s sister, my Aunt Emmy. Think about that, 12 bushels. There must have been at least 50 tomatoes per bushel. We delivered at least 600 tomatoes in one shot. And that was only small percentage of the tomatoes in the garden. Emmy had plenty of tomatoes to eat, plenty to can, plenty to turn into tomato juice, and plenty to give away to our other relatives. That way, they could eat them, can them, juice them, and give them away as well.
Whenever I picture my Grandfather in my head I always imagine how he looked while working in the garden. He never bothered to wear a shirt or shoes. I think he always wondered why he should. I mean, he would just get them dirty, right
My Grandfather was bald from the time he was 25. So whenever he would see my Dad, he would pull on his hair to make sure it was real and attached. Luckily for my Dad, he took after his Mother, and has extremely thick hair. My Grandfather just wanted to be sure that it wasn’t a toupee.
My Grandfather always liked to give me a hug and say, “I love you son,” and then pinch me on the back to make me jump. He started slowly with just a little pressure, and then squeezed harder until I jumped.
There are a lot more stories about my Grandfather, but I wanted this post to be about the things that I was able to witness. In the future, once I get my thoughts together, I will write a post about other parts of my Grandfather’s life.