I want to post something I wrote about Granddaddy when I was 17, for a Short Story Writing class with Judith – I think the assignment was a character sketch of someone we knew. It’s complete with bad writing devices and grammar. I clearly didn’t have some facts straight, and I think I took some liberties with details (unknowingly or not). I should point out that my father has since brought to my attention that Granddaddy used to listen to the ship scanner for what was coming up or down river and then walk down to the beach and know what it was, seemingly by magic. I also want to add one last story:

When I was in Spain, I called home around Christmas time when my parents were visiting my grandparents in the Soo. It was snowing, and Granddaddy informed me that I really ought to come home to shovel the walk. I responded that it would be a little difficult for me to get home and he said that it was fine, I could just parachute in from the plane it wouldn’t even have to stop, in fact the snow would cushion my fall.

The Big Friendly Granddaddy

My granddaddy is a character, but not of the type that you can tell just by looking at him. If you’ve ever read The BFG by Roald Dahl, that’s hwat he reminds me of. He doesn’t look like a big friendly giant, but that’s kind of how his personality is. Quiet, a little silly, and just maybe a little shy. He seems tall although he’s gotten smaller as I’ve gotten older, and he wears a lot of old clothes. Occasionally, my grandma will look at him and say “Jack, I didn’t even know you owned those pants anymore.”

I think he’s always been the way he is. One day in kindergarten, the class was sitting in a circle on a big square carpet in the kindergarten room and the teacher left for a minute. While the teacher was gone, granddaddy and another kid contrived to turn the entire class around by turning the carpet. Another time, the teacher sent him outside to collect all the children who hadn’t come inside from recess, but he didn’t come back and eventually the teacher had to go and get them all. I think they were all paddled.

Once, when he was a little older, he bought a baby alligator from another boy for ten cents. He kept it in the bathtub until that night when his mother told him he had to get rid of it. The next day he sold it to another kid. Of course he made a profit of fifteen cents by selling it for twenty-five.

I don’t know a whole lot about his teen years, but he grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. During the winter, he lived in town, but during the summer his family moved out to a log cabin on the very last bay of Lake Superior before it becomes the St. Mary’s River.

He went to college in the Lower Peninsula, and it was there that he met my grandmother, Fran, then the roommate of his sister, Betty. He asked my grandma to go out with him one day. He came to get her on foot and she asked him what they were going to do.

“Well, I thought maybe we would rent bicycles. Do you have fifty cents for rental?”

They ended up walking down to the river, and proceeded to find a place to sit down under a tree. Granddaddy decided to initiate a conversation.

“So, what do you think about God?”

I’m not sure of the year they were married, but it was during World War Two, because they had to be married on or near Granddaddy’s Air Force base in Texas. He never actually made it over seas, but instead spent the war teaching other men to fly planes for the U.S. He kept his piloting license for many years and took his family out on plane rides on Sundays.

After the war my grandparents moved back to the Soo. Graddaddy became a banker and they had two children, first my mother, Anne, and a couple years later, my uncle Jim. My mom doesn’t talk much about my granddaddy when she was young, but she has told me numerous times what he used to do when picking up she and her cousins from downhill skiing at Minneapolis Woods at night. The high school boys would always hold on to the back of the car in order to get a ride back to town, and granddaddy would manage to knock them off the back without injuring them. I hear this story a lot in the midst of lectures about good driving.

He retired from the bank in his mid-fifties. My grandma tells me that she would leave early every morning (she still worked as a teacher at Soo High) and granddaddy would sleep in, then make the bed by pulling the covers up as straight as he could around him, then creeping out without wrinkling them much.

When I was a little girl granddaddy used to get a cookie under my watchful eye, then turn to me and say “My cookie.”

“No, my cookie!” I would reply.

Eventually I caught on and started arguments of this sort myself.

“My chair!”

“No, my chair!”

“My blanket!”

“No, my blanket!”

The one I remember best was “My dress!” to which granddaddy didn’t have much of a response.

Although there are a hundred thousand or so stories about granddaddy (and just about everyone else in my family), my best memories of him will always be at the beach. He will be walking the beach with me and my various family members, being careful to walk on the cool, wet packed sand at the water’s edge because it’s easiest there on his bad knee. He will look out over the water towards the island and the enormous lake freighter making its way up or down river to Duluth or Detroit and he’ll guess what it is. Uncle Jim and my cousin Val will proclaim its name much louder than my granddaddy. I’ll steal my mom’s binoculars just to check, but even without them I know he’ll be right every time.

Like I said, I have about a million stories about him, and I like to think that I learned a lot from him. Most importantly, I miss him. I like to think he and Jim are raising all sorts of strange, fun… stuff on the beach, impervious to the wintry weather. And I hope you all find the story I wrote funny!

3 Responses to “Granddaddy”

  1. Isa Says:

    Mom, some html spacing help??????

  2. kayak woman Says:

    Fixed! I *love* when I get up in the morning and look at my blahg and there’s a post that I actually didn’t write! 🙂

    And only *one* correction to Liz’s stories. The old coot did *not* make a profit on the alligator trade. He actually *bought* the alligator for a quarter and sold it for 10. 😆

  3. Webmomster Says:

    Love the story!!