Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My Grandfather's Other Side

My grandfather was a hard-working farmer. He and my grandmother provided a good life for their six daughters. They did it all. Each had their list of duties from ice harvesting on the St. Lawrence in the depth of winter to haying in the hot sticky days of June; along with planting gardens which led to weeding, picking, slicing, cooking, canning produce and filling the root cellar. Then there was the sewing, knitting, cleaning, tending to children, tending to barn animals and machinery and the list goes on. Point is, my grandparents worked hard every day with no days off.

Memories of my grandfather are precious. I can see him splitting wood in the woodshed just outside a door of the kitchen in the farmhouse. I can hear the ax hit the wood; remember the splinters of the wood go flying through the air.

I can see him coming in from the backfield with a load of hay driving his small red Ford tractor over the plank bridge spanning Sucker Creek, then over flat rock and on to the barn.

I can recall Saturday nights when my brother and I were lucky enough to go to the local Strand Theater with our grandparents. They’d both be dressed up. I loved seeing them in their good clothes. They were a handsome couple. When the movies were over, they’d take us next door to Phillip’s Diner for a hamburger and a coke in one of those real coke glasses filled with ice chips.

I remember moments playing around him with my cousins as he sat in a room in the farmhouse where the sun would come through a window in late afternoon. Depending on the time of year, my grandmother would keep her geraniums in that window. They’d bloom all winter long. On one wall there was a bookcase. It took up the entire wall. I didn’t realize it then but the shelves might have been filled with some of my grandfather’s favorite books.

You see, my grandfather had another side to him once he came in from the barn. He loved reading; loved his books. I’m sure when we were playing around him he never noticed us. That’s what happens when you’re engrossed in a book. You disappear. His favorite author was Zane Grey. But he also had a favorite magazine-The Saturday Evening Post. He read each one cover to cover. He saved every edition. There were always stacks of the magazine in that room with the geraniums

Over the years I’d hear my grandfather coughing. Sometimes his asthma kept him in bed. I remember seeing his Beech Nut Chewing Tobacco in his back pocket; remember seeing him pull the pouch out of the pocket, dig in with his fingers and put some of the stuff in his mouth and start chewing. My grandfather passed away in 1957.

The attached photo of my grandfather sitting and reading his magazine in that room in the farmhouse is one of my favorites. I zoomed in to get a closer look of the cover of the magazine he appears to be engrossed in, even with his barn boots still on. Then I researched the magazine’s archives to find out the date of when the magazine was published.

It turned out it was published in March, 1952. The artist was Amos Sewell; a banker during the day who took art classes at night for fun and ending up being remembered as one of Saturday Evening Post’s best artist/illustrator. The name of the cover art is “School Orchestra.”

I find that trivia interesting; a part of my grandfather’s other side.