Feb 12, 2006

100 years

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Granddad and me (1974).

I’m six years old, sitting on my grandfather and playing with his heavy, warm pocket watch. He’s trying to take a nap, but the slow ticking of the watch only entertains me for a few minutes before I’m tickling his toes through the holes in the afghan my grandmother crocheted just for naps like this one. Looking back, I know I got away with a lot because I was the oldest grandchild – and the only girl.

I spent a lot of warm summer evenings sitting on a hill under the big maple tree, snapping green beans, watching lightning bugs, and chatting up my grandmother while his quiet presence circled the gardens, chewing on his pipe, taking stock. He grew gooseberries. He chewed Juicy Fruit and put the soggy gum into mole tracks to fend them off. He made wooden bowls and rolling pins. He spray-painted pine cones gold to entertain me. He always wore blue work shirts and jeans the color of his eyes, which mirrored the bright Indiana sky.

Today is Granddad’s 100th birthday. He married relatively late in life, traveling to Florida and West to find work during the Depression. Shortly after his death, I was going through some old photographs and came across a series with several stylish flapper girls in them. I’ve often begged his brother to tell me stories of Granddad's youth when he knew those women, before he was married to my grandmother, when he was engaged to someone else. All he tells me is that he was ‘a good Christian man’ and the conversation ends. There are still too many holes in the story to satisfy me and now it's too late. I'm on the couch, time ticks along in my hand, and stories remain untold.

Granddad and his brothers in the 1930s(?). There is nothing about this photo that I don’t love.

Granddad with my dad, probably taken by my grandmother (c. 1949).

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Me, gardening in an attempt to slow down the pace of my own life, taken by SweetBasil in my urban garden (2004).


Blogger DancingFish said...

That is really a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing =)

Blogger Chris said...

Thanks for sharing the story and pictures!

Blogger janna said...

There are all sorts of things I wish now that I knew about my grandparents. I have a cousin, just a year older than me, who interviewed grandparents and great-aunts and -uncles, back when we were in high school. I thought he was so odd back then, but now I'm so happy he did it, and shared the stories. But there are still lots of things to wonder about...

Blogger Ashley said...

I too have gaps in the family records--I know a lot about my mom's family, but very little about my dad's.

What I do know, however, is that seeing that picture of your dad was eerie, because for a minute I thought it was MY dad. It's possible that all little boys in the 40s looked the same, I guess, but seriously, they could be twins. I'll try to dig up an old picture to post.

I LOVE the granddad-and-brothers pic too--it really is perfect.

Blogger jennysbelly said...

Thanks for sharing. . .I wish I had more of connection to my grandparents. My mom just sent me a picture of my grandmother and me knitting 18 years ago . . .I didn't remember her teaching me!

I've been reading your blog now for awhile and just noticed you were in Bethlehem . . .I'm in Bethlehem working right now and I live in Allentown!

Blogger Catherine Kerth said...

I love this post Amanda :)

Blogger quiltyknitwit said...

Loving grandparents are so precious. You had a great gift.

Blogger frog-o-phobic said...

Wow, amazing photos... what a treasure.

Blogger carrie said...

what a great post. such wonderful photos and memories. i found out shortly before my grandmother died that she had been married before. it was apparently a big secret and source of shame for her. like you, all i can do is wonder.

Blogger Dani said...

What great pictures! Its amazing thinking about our family, especially our grandparents :) Hugs to granddad!

Anonymous ricochet rabbit said...

Amandamonkey: Thanks -- enjoyed this thru a few tears.

Anonymous Bookish Wendy said...

A fabulous post - I love those pictures!


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