Yesterday, would have been my grandpa George’s 108th birthday (if I calculated correctly). He passed away at age 93 and I was almost 15. There are a lot of fun memories associated with Grandpa George. There are also a lot of valuable lessons I’ve learned from him and have applied in my own life. Allow me to share some of these memories and lessons with you.
First here’s a bit of background information. Grandpa George was one of seven children. I believe he was the oldest or second oldest in his family. He dropped out of school to help the family when he would have otherwise been in the sixth grade. He was quite a mischief-maker when in school, though. He constantly dunked one girl’s long, spiral curls in ink, for example. He was also eight years older than my grandma Harriet (whom I really didn’t know that well as she passed away when I was only 1 1/2). He and Grandma had 5 children (4 of whom are still living today and one of which is my mom). Grandpa also had seven grandchildren (I am the oldest of them). Grandpa’s later years had him working in a liquor store, but during his earlier years he worked in a box factory. Lots of the stories took place in the liquor store.
The first story is about how he saved the liquor store from being robbed. Well, Grandpa held off a would-be robber by asking him to speak up louder because he couldn’t quite hear him. Eventually the owner of the store heard what was going on and I don’t know if he called the police or what, but whatever happened it was not a robbery.
The second story is about when he worked in the box factory. These machines were so big and powerful that one day he was working with one of them, the cutting machine, and I guess he got a tad too close. It cut off part of one of his fingers. Some time later, Grandpa was working on his lawn mower and reached under it while the blades were running and cut his toes and another finger off. Poor Grandpa!
Poor Grandpa is right. Grandpa never made much money, but he did what he could and all of his children made it through Catholic school. He gave all the money he could and even gave some to people who were less fortunate than even he was. He made sure also all of us grandchildren got at least $20 in our Christmas envelopes every year. He spent his retirement years giving Eucharist to those in the hospital and being an usher at church. He never had much money, but even with as little as he had Grandpa found ways to help himself and others.
I used to tell Grandpa of all the guys I ever thought were cute or funny. He’d tell me that I’d find the right guy and we’d be happy together. I guess I still haven’t found the right one yet. He also taught me how to draw and enjoyed reading my stories. Sometimes Grandpa also fell asleep on the sofa in his front room (or sun room as we called it). He snored, too. Sometimes he would fall asleep and wouldn’t hear us knocking on the door when we’d come for a visit. Often when this would happen we would have to return home and forget about the visit, which always depressed me because I enjoyed visiting with Grandpa.
Grandpa was also a handyman. He built his grandchildren a swing out back by an old trailer that once belonged to my great-grandmother (whom I never met, but would have loved to). My great-grandmother lived in that trailer after Grandpa fixed it up and helped renovate it so she could live in it. Grandpa also took good care of his acre and a half yard or pasture.
We used to play baseball and football (American) down there. It was also a great place to go treasure hunting in his “woods” as I called them. There was an overgrown wooded area behind the pasture that led to a fence that separated his yard from a highway. I loved going down there to explore. One time we found an old and abandoned Butternut Bread Truck; another time we found an old tire (probably belonging to that old bread truck).
His house also had stories. Apparently at one time it belonged to the mayor of Kansas City, Kansas; it also at one time belonged to the archbishops.
That 2 1/2 story home was so cool and neat. It is probably one of the oldest houses still standing today. It’s been renovated (a bit), but still stands proud off North 38th Street and has many grand stories to tell. If only walls and houses could talk. Oh the stories this house could tell. It could tell of Grandpa George and his five children and my grandma. It would tell of the several kittens and cats that used to roam the yard and made their home with him and his family. It could tell of their two dogs, one so stupid it didn’t know how to not get run over by a car and one so smart you could swear it was a human. It would tell of Christmas lights being shot out and many uncles helping to maintain the roof. Why it would even tell of a wonderful tenth birthday (I believe) that I celebrated there.
Oh the wonderful stories of Grandpa George and his house on North 38th Street! Happy (belated) birthday, Grandpa George!