Something I remembered yesterday - that September 26th was my grandfather's birthday! I hadn't thought of that in a long time but I guess because there were so many things going on around here of late -which reminded me of people from my past -that it was a memory that came to me and stayed on my mind all day yesterday.
Were it possible for him to have lived this long, he would have been 137 years old yesterday! He passed away in March of 1957 -54 years ago -when I was 12 years old and I still miss him, very much, all these many years later. A quiet, very gentle man he was with a soft voice and, as I remarked to Mandy about him, he had very, very little trace of an accent of his native language, Swedish. He loved music, had a beautiful bass voice and I suppose because of how much I loved to hear him sing, to this day, I love hearing a good bass voice! He read -a lot -loved history and gardening and would probably be appalled at my attempts to grow a garden -especially my first ones about 30 years ago which were really dismal failures. This year, he might have thought there was a bit of potential for me to grow a few things -that is before the damned squash bugs came along and sucked the juice out of my yellow squash plants. Oh yes, they did that! But to my credit, we did get quite a number of yellow squash to dine on before that plague came to live in my garden and I also got about 15-18 acorn squash too -although they were a bit on the smallish side they still tasted darned good! By comparison to his gardens when I was a kid, mine is just a tiny drop in the bucket! He grew lots and lots over a much larger area too that I plant but we rarely wanted for most any vegetable that could be grown in the type of climate in this section of Pennsylvania. Corn, green beans, beets, were planted in abundance and when they were ripe, my Mom and Grandmother canned and canned and then, canned some more, for days and days -actually probably for weeks too when you add in all the tomatoes they would put up along with the apples they would go down to Peale and pick to can jar after jar of applesauce! He and his older brother used to have contests to determine which of them could grown the largest potato, along with who could harvest the most potatoes in a season too. And onions! We rarely ever had to buy onions from one year to the next as what he got in one season generally lasted almost up until the onions were ready the next summer!
It was my Grandpa who taught me to love books -and reading -and as a child I spent a whole lot of my time, year-round, with my nose always in some book! One of my favorite bloggers -Rick at In My Own Write (or Stories I Share With Friends) has a passion about reading that is a lot like mine was as a child but as I grew older, too many other things seemed to prevent me from reading near the volume of stuff I used to consume all the time as a kid! I do still enjoy reading but just don't do it near as often these days. But Rick and I tend to enjoy a lot of the same things in our reading -history! However, my favorites in that category lean more to fictionalized accounts of history whereas he prefers non-fiction. Today, he posted a list he has on Amazon.com with his favorite books, which was interesting to read. One thing that amazed me though was one of his favorite topics is Labor and Labor Unions and he listed a book there that was written by one of my professors at Penn State -who just happened to be one of my favorite instructors too -Dr. Paul Clark! You know I loved learning that because it totally appealed to my love of "small world" kind of things too!
A few of my favorite bloggers have remarked recently that they are celebrating their anniversary of beginning their blog -Skittles, Technobabe and Dave at "Rather Than Working" all began their blogs around this time, five years ago and that's about when I started blogging too. Funny thing though is I can't remember how I found them way back then but I've been following them for quite sometime now -Skittles I found I think around late October or early November that year and though she doesn't post that much these days, she and I are still friends on good old Facebook as is Dave now too. A whole lot of the bloggers I follow -and have followed for anywhere from 3 to almost 5 years -rarely post to their blogs these days but thanks to Facebook, I still keep in contact with them too!
Ah yes, good old Facebook! I play a bit at that place but not a whole lot. Not super active there you see but for me, it's a great place to keep in contact with family, old and newer friends, classmates, bloggers and thanks to a special page that the granddaughter of one of my good friends from high school set up - called "Grassflat Grown" I try to keep people who still live in this area along with a whole lot of folks who have roots back to this little village, a bit connected with things happening around where I still live.
One of the things that is now in place on this facebook page is a place where I try to remember to transcribe obituaries of people from around here to let those who live all around the country know when some one has passed away.
Today, I posted 4 obituaries to that page! On was the passing of an elderly gentleman who died about 2 weeks ago but I had forgotten to transcribe his obituary then and fortunately, was able to find a copy of it on a local site, but the other three passings were all between this past Thursday to Sunday and all three of those involved someone I had known fairly well too.
One was a lady four years my junior who I knew but not that well but her children and mine were pretty much in the same age ranges and our kids were friends. Another was a lady who was 84 and who I'd known since I was just a little kid and though her children -all seven of 'em -I could remember as little kids, then followed them through their high school and college years but today at her viewing, though I remembered the names of those kids, only one of the seven could I have identified who she was although the boys, I would have known what family they belonged to because they all resemble their late Dad very, very much!
And the third obituary I posted was for a man who I first got to know back in the mid-60s through a guy -also deceased for 23 years now but who had been a very, very good friend of mine from first grade on! I met Don Harter back then when my friend Dennis was beginning to get involved in stock car racing and Don was an excellent auto mechanic. When my ex-husband and I moved back here, Don was probably one of the first people in this region who my ex developed a friendship with and it was actually more through my ex-husband then that I came to know Don and his wife, Pearl, much, much better.
And it was because of that friendship my ex shared with Don that after we divorced, Pearl and Don's home became almost like my kids' home away from home! Those two people loved my kids, would entertain them at their house and often allowed my son to come out there and roam the junkyard Don had there and Clate would "help" Don. Actually, though Clate did no doubt on some occasions "help" Don, it was much more that Don was helping Clate -trying to show him how to grow into a fine young man which Clate is (for the most part) today!
Back when my son was about maybe 10 or 11 years old, he amazed Don in that he could tell Don exactly what kind of junked cars he had parked in that junkyard, where each unit was located -what row, how far down, etc., and often, could even rattle off most of the usable -thus still good -parts were on this or that car too! Quite a feat considering how many cars Don had in that junkyard back then!
I think it would be safe to say too that Don Harter was one person who very few people in this township, if asked, would say they didn't know him, or at the least, didn't know who he was or where his junkyard was!
If you didn't know Don, on first meeting him, he might have seemed to be a bit gruff, sometimes a bit on the brusque side, but once he got to know a person -and they, him -it was just a short time before you learned he was just one very, very decent man! Honest, hard-working, excellent auto mechanic and an avid collector of old, old cars that he had restored over the years! If some one expressed the least bit of interest in antique cars, Don loved to show those units he had lovingly restored and he also too great pleasure and a lot of pride too, frequently driving one of those antiques in many local parades too!
Back in the mid-90s though, Pearl and Don were the victims of a terrible -and very brutal crime. Two men from an adjacent county showed up at their home -which was back well off the beaten path/roadways -cut off their telephone lines and broke into their house where they tied both Pearl and Don up, then proceeded to rob them and also, to beat Don -severely about his face and head!
The man who at that time was the local police officer said when he responded to a call from them for help -after they had somehow managed to free themselves and had gone to a house near their that was actually a camp but they tended to the place in the owner's absence and thus had a key to get in there and use the telephone to call for help -said that when he pulled up in front of Pearl and Don's place, there stood Don, with blood running down his face, but holding a big old shotgun, ready to take aim the best he could under the circumstances, should those two guys return that night! Eventually those two guys were caught and convicted and one of them is now serving a VERY long prison term. Thankfully!
So, yesterday, Mandy and I went to the viewing in the afternoon and my son went there last night. This morning the three of us attended the funeral too. Don's passing -though very difficult to lose a good friend as he was, was also one of those things that was a blessing too now as he had endured two bouts of cancer and it was this second go-round that eventually took him down. His daughter-in-law said that he had suffered a good deal with that dreadful disease this time so they -the family and his widow -were prepared and even, I suppose one could say, at peace with his death now, just to know he was also at peace too!
After we got back home, because there was to be a viewing for the lady who passed away yesterday this afternoon and because I regarded her as a good neighbor and friend and my son liked her very much as well having worked with her when he was still in high school at the local truck stop, plus having been her paperboy for several years before that too, we still had our same clothes on that we'd worn to the funeral when the grandkids returned from school.
As Mandy was getting Kurtis out of the van, he spied Uncle Clayton standing near by his mother's car and asked Mandy, "How's come Uncle Clayton is dressed like a principal?" Only Kurtis would take note of his uncle's clothing -suit, dress shirt and tie -being more than a bit out of the norm! And I'll have to be sure to call Pearl and tell her that line too as I know she'll get a big kick out of hearing what Kurtis had to say today!
But the thing that really amazed me this evening was after I returned home from the viewing and was thinking about that woman and her children -those little kids I remembered them being; those teenagers who were good kids and all of 'em very good students in school too; and those kids -all of whom went to college, graduated and moved on to good jobs away from this region -who in my mind were still those young people until it hit me that oh my, the oldest son is now probably around 60-61 years of age!
How in blazes did that happen anyway? How did they get to be so old, so fast?
Then again, how did I get this old and so damned fast too is something else I'd like to know now too!