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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In my great-grandfather's day

In your great-grandfather's day when you went to the outhouse you took your .22 along. If you saw a squirrel on the way that's what you had for dinner.

That was from my dad while discussing his grandfather. Things weren't much different when my dad was a boy. He went to the outhouse one night and followed the standard procedure of striking a match and look under the seat for scorpions or black widows.

The next morning his dad wasn't pleased to find a hole in the back yard with a ring of ashes around it. Apparently, there was some kind of error in disposing of the match.

Among other hobbies my great-grandfather made and traded knives. He made knives out of old files. It seems to me that most files would be too hard and brittle to make good knives so he probably did some sort of heat treating but I don't know what procedure he used. Sadly I don't have any of the knives he made. My dad said his grandpa gave him one when he was a kid but he lost it years ago. Wouldn't that be a neat artifact to hand down in the family?

My dad said that his grandfather was also a collector of firearms. He said that great-grandfather kept a loaded firearm behind every door in the house and one in most of the corners. He sounds like my kind of guy.

My dad has a cane that his grandfather made. It is your basic straight piece of wood with a brass cap on the end that touches the ground to keep it from splitting. For a handle it has a large brass ball on the top. My grandfather believed it was a decoration from a bridle used on a fancy horse-drawn carriage. Great-grandpa had filled the brass ball with lead. Obviously this was not just intended for decoration.

My grandpa told me a several of stories about his dad. Great-grandpa had a pecan tree on his place that was inside the fence near the road some distance from his house. Some of the limbs hung over the fence and dropped pecans out there. One time some people pulled up in a car and started picking up pecans outside the fence which was ok with him. The trouble started when they decided that there weren't enough free pecans for them outside the fence. They climbed the fence and started picking up pecans on his property. His solution was to pick up a .22 and put a bullet through the top of the pecan tree. I think they got the message.

Another time someone started dumping trash in the ditch next to his place. After several times I guess he saw a pattern and had enough of that. He waited in the brush with his shotgun. After they dumped their trash and started to drive away he unloaded both barrels into the back of their car. The message was pretty clear to me: I was here and could have shot you if I wanted to. I guess they got the message.

I would like to have known him. I would like to have known my grandparents better than I did. Be sure to save some mementos for your children and grandchildren and be sure to write down some true stories for them. Some day they will be glad you did.

1 comment:

Paladin said...

One of the few things outside my control that I have regrets about in life, is the fact that my Grandpa didn't live long enough to meet my Wife and Daughter. I have tons of great memories of him from my childhood, and I think he and your Grandfather would have been Pals :)

I have such an interest in people of the past, particularly my own family history, that I've thought about making some short videos of myself as sort of a "voice from the past" sort of thing for generations to follow. If I had notes or letters intended for me by ancestors I never met it would be fascinating to me.


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