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Monday, 30 June 2008

Grandpa Redux

By Darlene Costner of Darlene's Hodgepodge

If you have read my previous stories, you are acquainted with my maternal grandfather who had no driving skills whatsoever and who was sometimes lacking in tact. His judgment was sometimes impaired as well.

Grandpa provided us with a treasure trove of family stories. One I remember hearing about was when he was courting my grandmother. They lived in a small town in Ohio and my grandmother’s house was at the bottom of a steep hill.

Grandpa had just purchased a new bicycle. It had a very large front wheel and small back wheel and was difficult to ride. Grandpa wanted to show off for his girl friend and he yelled for her to watch. She went to the window in time to see him flying down the sidewalk and straight into the rock wall next to their house. Grandpa never did have much knack for anything on wheels.

Grandpa was the first telegrapher on Pike’s Peak. He would have loved computers as a means of communication, but in the early 1900s there was very little option in the way of long distance communication. He worked for the D and RG railroad as a telegrapher and, as such, had access to bidding on damaged goods that were auctioned by the railroad.

Grandpa was always buying boxes of junk and I remember one such purchase that almost made him a single man.

Silhouettes were popular in those days and a couple of boxes of them that had broken open during shipping were to be sold. As my grandmother had a cottage court Grandpa thought that they would look lovely on the walls of each cottage and he purchased all of them. Since the cottage décor was rustic, they were most inappropriate and my grandmother was furious at his waste of money.

My grandmother, being of the “waste not, want not” generation, couldn’t bear to just throw them away. As a result I grew up with silhouettes on every wall in our house and drawers full of the overflow. None went on the cottage walls, of course. Poor Grandpa was in the dog house again because no good deed went unpunished for him.

Grandpa really ended up in trouble with his next purchase. I have told about his lack of driving skills, but he loved cars. One day he came home with the newest streamlined car - the Chrysler Airflow. My grandmother’s succinct analysis of that purchase was that he was going to kill himself. I don't think she ever rode in it.

Grandpa couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble and the final straw was over a woman. An extremely attractive widow named Edna lived across the street from the cottage court. She was very dignified and always well groomed and beautifully attired. She worked for my grandmother renting cottages during the summer months just to have something to do. I was in awe of Edna and hoped I would look like her when I grew up.

One spring my grandmother had hired an old carpenter named Athey to do repairs on the cabins to get them ready for the summer season. Athey, who didn’t have a tooth in his head, was definitely not an attractive man. However, that didn’t stop him from deciding to court Edna.

He showed up at her doorstep one evening with a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy. He was determined to make a good impression. Athey didn’t get the results he had hoped for. Edna was highly insulted, told him off and slammed the door in his face. She was so angry about his presumptive act that she stormed over to our house and complained to my grandparents.

Grandpa wore dentures and when he was home he took one plate out because it was uncomfortable. This caused him to lisp. When Grandpa heard about Athey insulting Edna he came into the living quarters where our heat was furnished by a coal stove. Grandpa started angrily shoveling coal into the stove saying, “Toothleth of fool. Who doth he think he ith anyway?”

The irony of his insult was completely lost on him. My grandmother was not amused.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I love your story. Could it be I loved it because my grandpa was also quite a character? Thanks for sharing!

Those are funny stories about him. I think my great-grandfather was a similar font of stories, but no one ever wrote them down, much to my dismay.

Hi Darlene,

I always love it when I see your name at the top of a story. I know it will be something interesting and funny.

Did you live at the Cottage Court in Summer? Sounds like the perfect place to grow up with loving grandparents...

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