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Posts tagged ‘grandfather’

Jar of Coins

Frank Szabo was big and ugly, “a huge monstrosity of a man,” as my grandfather described him.  They first met during World War II.  Frank was a little older than the others in the outfit and seen as serious and mature.  My grandfather soon discovered he was also kind and humble, and Frank’s gentleness and consideration impressed him in one particular incident involving a vulnerable young woman at a party:

After this incident, my grandfather and Frank became good friends.  And then, in early 1943, their outfit was taking a troop train from Cherry Point, North Carolina, to San Diego.  The train was scheduled to pass through New Bern, where Frank’s wife was to be waiting. Read more


The No. 1 Designated Pig Feeder

My grandfather performed a lot of chores on the farm as a child.  He was the “water boy” and had to run through the woods to the stream to fetch water whenever it was needed.  With his younger sister Virginia, he would also watch cows when they were transferred from one field to another for grazing.  And he was usually responsible for feeding the chickens, hogs, and other animals.

To house the pigs, my grandfather’s father had built a large, fenced-in lot in the woods, where oak trees shed acorns, which the pigs loved to eat.  The acorns were not sufficient food, though, so they also had to be fed corn that had been grown on the farm.

The pig lot was about a mile from the house.  My grandfather had to carry a bushel of corn in a sack from the barn to the pigs.  Normally, this was not a problem, but as winter progressed and the snow got really deep, he began to realize that this was becoming a really arduous chore.  As he was dragging that bag in snow up to 2 and 3 feet deep, he decided on an alternative plan. Read more

Cows and Horses

Back when my grandfather was growing up, June was wheat harvesting time and every year, after school let out, all neighboring farms within a certain radius took turns helping each other harvest, with the host family preparing dinner at the end of the day for the workers.

A thrasher was towed into the center of the barn so that the farmers on the combine crew could throw the wheat bundles into it.  The combine separated the grain from the stalks and then blew the straw out the back door into the barnyard.  As the day wore on, the discarded straw continued to grow into a huge pile.

The cows came from the fields to rub themselves on the straw.  All my grandfather’s friends had learned that they could grab the cows’ tails and be pulled on their stomachs around and around the straw pile. Read more

Kindness of Strangers

In December, my grandfather was in Walter Reed for hip replacement surgery after a fall.  It was cold out, and since I took turns spending the night at the hospital with my mother and sister, I developed standard hospital attire: long socks, shelf bra cami, and long-sleeved t-shirt, all under thick sweatpants and oversized sweatshirt: as close to pajamas as I could possibly get and still leave the house.

The family lounge was down the hall from my grandfather’s hospital room, and it was freezing in there.  Still, I would go in often to lie down along the couch and stretch out.  I worried so much during this time, my normal level of anxiety ramped up and relentless.  Even after his surgery was successful, even after doctors expressed amazement at how well he was doing, and even after he began to show progress in a couple of days that for many others takes weeks or months, I worried, and I thought about him and my family and a lot about myself. Read more

Year of Revisiting #16 – Robin Hood

While he taxes us to pieces

And he robs of us our bread

King Richard’s crown keeps slippin’ down

Around that pointed head

Ah!  But while there is a merry man

In Robin’s wily pack

We’ll find a way to make him pay

And steal our money back


The last thing that I loved at some point in my life, hadn’t encountered in a while, and decided to “revisit” this year is the cartoon Robin Hood, which I hadn’t seen probably since childhood.  I must have watched it a hundred times as a kid, my grandfather always close by, sometimes singing along and laughing.  He and one of his close childhood friends had acted in a school play of the Robin Hood tale, so I think he has a special regard for the story.  And, of course, now so do I.  With the oddball mix of American Southern and British actors voicing the anthropomorphized animal characters, Robin Hood was just as fun and sweet and charming as I remember it being 20 years ago.