Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Legacy Questions - Maternal Grandfather

Someone gave me a book entitled Legacy Questions. It has 867 questions to answer about your life in preparation for writing a memoir.

I am going to go through and answer as many of the questions as I can. Obviously I won't mention things that may be used as identification questions at banks and things, but that doesn't mean there aren't stories there.

The first question is "What do you know about your grandparents?"

I was fortunate in that I knew both my maternal and paternal grandparents. My mother's parents lived within driving distance, so I spent time with them. My father's parents moved to California when I was about six months old, so my interactions with them were limited to phone calls and infrequent visits. After I married, my grandfather in California and I became pen pals, and he wrote me many stories and poems. I have the originals safely tucked away. I typed out most of his stories and made a book out of them, which I have shared with my father.

My mother's father was, in my eyes, anyway, a stern man. He and my grandmother had six children. My mother was the oldest. The youngest is a year younger than I am, born on my first birthday.

Granddaddy went to work early and came home at 4:10 p.m. every day. My grandmother had dinner on the table when he walked in, and they ate around 4:20 p.m., after he'd washed up.

My grandfather worked for Kroger at the warehouse where he was a fork truck operator. He worked there for 35 years.

My grandfather was 57 years old when he had a heart attack. (Incidentally, his father also died at the age of 57.) I'm not sure about the details of his pension, but for some reason Kroger refused to pay my grandmother whatever it was she thought they owed her. Nobody in the family shopped at Kroger for a very long time after my grandfather passed away.

He smoked cigarettes constantly. He had a workshop in the basement where he worked on television sets during the weekend to make extra money. My brother and I, along with my two youngest uncles were never supposed to go in there (of course we did), and we definitely were not to mess with his tools (we generally did not). I remember him as being rather gruff, probably wondering who these kids were that were at his house all the time.

He drove a big white Ford car with a blue interior. Occasionally he took us on day trips to Hillsville, where there was a big store called Hills that had all sorts of trinkets, and to a place called Sunset or Sunnybrook or something like that up near Floyd. That store also had all sorts of intriguing items.

Once he raced us kids in a foot race. He laughed the entire time he was running. He also, after I reached about the age of 9 or 10, let us mow the yard. At the time he still had two boys at home. He'd pay us each a quarter and we'd split the yard-mowing up for the privilege of earning that quarter.

Then, quarter in hand, we'd race off to Orange Market on Apperson Drive to purchase comic books, candy, and a soda (yes, a long time ago, you could buy all of that for a quarter. Or maybe we put our quarters together, I don't really remember).

My mother worked about a block away from my grandparents' house, so if I stayed home from school because I was sick, I stayed with Grandma, and by the time Mom left work at 5 p.m. I was fed and she could take me home to Botetourt and put me to bed.

Grandpa grew up in Botetourt on the property that borders the land on which I grew up. A barn that he helped build still stands there. He only went to school through the fourth grade; I assume he quit to work on the family farm. He attended the Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren when he was young. (I was later baptized in the same church, and I saw his name on the roster.) I think he attended school in what I knew as a barn growing up, which has since burned down. I'm not sure what the name of the school would have been.

He had six siblings, three brothers and three sisters (I think), so a family of seven children. 

One story passed down was of a prisoner (?) that they saw walking in the field. He was bloody and in rags. Then he disappeared. My grandfather always said it was a ghost.

His mother moved the family to Salem after my great-grandfather passed away, and Grandpa got his job at Kroger. He was ineligible for the draft due to poor vision.

I remember him with glasses and a hearing aid, his head bent over a TV, telling us to go away while he worked. I do not know if he was a happy man, but he was a hard-working one. I hope he was happy.

Grandpa would stop work on Saturdays to watch wrestling. In the evenings, he watched the Johnny Cash show. On Sunday nights, if we were there, we watched The Wonderful World of Disney with him.

This is a picture of my grandparents holding my mother when she was a baby, circa 1944.


  1. Your mother is about my age. I was born in 1944. My dad quit school sometime in the fifth grade, and Cliff's dad also. I guess that was common back then.

  2. I just love looking at old pictures. I love it. Thank-you for sharing about your family. Have a nice week!


  3. Nice that you have those memories. I was close to both sets of grandparents and was in my 30's and 40's when my grandparents passed. I have lots of good memories with them. I like that picture too!


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