Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A little early, but happy 100th Grandpa F.

Harold and Ann, circa 1930.

Grandpa F. would be 100 years old on September 9th. He died in April 1972 from a heart attack. I remember my Uncle Fred coming to the door as we had supper (hot dogs, as it was) and saying to my mother, "Carolyn, he's gone." Grandpa was afraid of doctors and had had a heart attack and didn't tell anybody, the second attack killed him, although he lived for a week in the hospital, long enough to see his newly born eighth grandchild.

Harold had a difficult life. His father died when he was three from blood poisoning. His mother Grace raised Harold and Byron and Bessie, eventually marrying a distant cousin. Grandpa dropped out of school in the eighth grade to help on the farm. Eventually he went to work for Michigan Bell as a lineman, stringing telephone lines across northern Michigan. His co-worker George had a sister Ann. They met and dated, Grandpa writing love letters from boarding houses as he worked the lines. I read the letters back in 1998, sitting on the floor next to the fireplace at their house a few days after Grandma died. In them Harold told of going to movie theaters to see the new talking movies, he hunted and fished, helped make a model airplane with Ann's younger brother James.

Grandpa and Grandma married in 1931 and my mom showed up the next year, just as the Depression made life difficult. He lost his job for a while, went to work at the wooden bowl factory. When times improved he went back to the phone company and worked their until 1964. He had three sons after my mother, saw each of kids attend college. Hunted, fished, painted, carved, made homemade snowshoes, traveled with Grandma. Had two cottages, I wish we still had the one on Lake Ann, but Grandma sold it for nothing (it is now worth a half million!). I remember him making me a leather wallet that I still have. He was a good grandpa, someone who made time for each of his grandchildren. Some things were beyond him though. When my brother Buck and I got rabbits he told us that the difference between boy and girl rabbits were that boy rabbits had longer ears. That didn't work out very well- we ended up with a lot more rabbits.

I wish he had lived longer, wished he had been able to do the things he wanted to do. I wish I could have gotten to know him better, I remember him as an eight-year-old and I wonder how we would have related a few years later. But that's life, I guess, and I'm thankful for the time we did have with each other. Happy 100th Grandpa.

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