It is obvious Grandpa wanted to instill a deep appreciation of culture in his grandchildren. From a very young age, Grandpa would regale us grandchildren with beautiful poetry:
Sssssssssh! Listen, listen
The cat’s a pissin’
Under the chair
Run run get a gun!
It’s too late
The damn thing’s done
Grandpa’s inner thespian would emerge during these recitations. He would dramatically cup his hear to listen to the cat as he was “a pissin'” and then he would frantically look around for his gun and finally he would hang his head in exaggerated despair.
Grandma had no appreciation for Grandpa’s poetry and would shout “Jone-yuuuur!” throughout his beautiful performances. (“Jone-yur” is how my British grandmother pronounces Junior.)
“Dammit Jeanette!” he would shout (knowing damn well that his cussing would lead to further excitement on Grandma’s part), “I’m trying to teach the kids some poetry here!”
Grandpa was very concerned with our educations and would often check up on the progress of our literary pursuits, asking us if we’d had the chance to read Under the Bleachers by Seymour Butts or Yellow River by I. P. Daley.
Sometimes Grandpa didn’t mean to cause a commotion. Being the oldest grandchild, I was the social director of the cousins and one of my favorite activities was to “play church.” This involved my cousins sitting on the couch while I read from Grandpa’s Bible. During one of these really fun play sessions, two hundred dollar bills fell out and floated to the floor.
We kids ran screaming up the stairs to where the adults were playing a game of cards, wildly waving what we thought was surely a small fortune and yelling, “Grandpa! Grandpa! We found two hundred dollars in your Bible!!”
Now, you’d think my Grandpa would be just as thrilled as we were to discover this cache. Surely it was a religious miracle of some sort? Grandpa was always complaining Grandma never gave him any golfing money — this must be divine intervention! It turned out it was golfing money, just without the holy origins we had anticipated.
My chagrined Grandpa laughed and said “Dammit, Risi! That was supposed to be my golfin’ money come this spring.”
“Not anymore,” Grandma said smugly.
Fond memories, fond memories. Another memorable moment occurred during a family vacation to South Dakota. At the entrance to the Badlands National Park you have to stop and pay like an $8 fee per car. For gentlemen in the 55 and over age bracket, this is a small fortune, as those of you with grandfathers can attest to. I was about 14 so the following conversation was pretty embarrassing:
Grandpa: EIGHT dollars?!
Teller: Yes, sir.
Grandpa: By God, you gotta be kidding me.
Grandma: Just give her the damn money, Jone-yur! (Turning to my sister and I: I’m sorry, girls, for using that language, but your grandfather drives me nuts sometimes. Granddaughters nod, but have no idea what grandma is apologizing for. Damn is a bad word?)
Grandpa: I ain’t payin’ no EIGHT dollars.
Teller: I’m sorry, sir, I can’t let you in unless you buy a ticket.