Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Little Vermouth...

...and a toast to my Grandfather, who would have been 100 yesterday.

These are the days that I wish I had my scanner and box of old photos right at my fingertips all the time - we have these great vintage photos of Grandpa as a young man - those old black and whites that seem to stop time when you look at them.

We don't have many pictures of him from when I was growing up. In fact a few years ago I scanned all of our family slides into the computer, and I could not find ONE of him in there at all. He owned a bakery and a grocery store - and we often only saw him when we stopped in there on our way in and out of town. He worked VERY long hours, and we lived more than 6 hours away. We tried to visit summers and Thanksgiving.

I remember Thanksgivings most of all - Grandpa would work in the morning and then come home for the big family dinner. We were usually sleeping on the living room or dining room floors somewhere - all us cousins stacked up like cord wood sometimes - and if you were lucky you woke up as he was leaving and got a quick hug. He was stealthy, though, and we slept pretty soundly.

I might have the details wrong, but one year I think one of his customers needed the turkey that he had set aside for us - so we had steak instead. His customers loved him - we all loved him.

Grandpa's chair was always the one at the living room end of the table - except for Thanksgiving when he sat where he could watch football through the door in to the sunroom where the TV was. He was so excited and proud when I went to Clemson - and watched all of their games! I remember telling him to watch for me in the stands when I went to two bowl games in Florida. I would be the one in orange, I would tell him.

When Grandpa finally would come home from work, Nana would usually have something like greens and beans or bean soup ready for him - that and a loaf of crusty bread. He was a butcher -but he did not eat meat. And he always got the heel of the loaf - unless you were really good and he gave it to you. That was always a special moment. I think of him every time I reach for the heel, and it is still my favorite piece of the loaf.

When he "retired" at 80'ish, he kept on working, moving to my uncle's vegetable farm and helping out on trips to the fresh market. I worked on that farm for a summer - Uncle Mike (pictured here at market) called me his "migrant worker" and worked me hard for the weeks I was there. Trips to market are not for the faint of heart - I don't remember what time we got up to load the truck, but it was not long after we went to bed, and market was at least an hours drive away - and we were usually set up and ready to sell by 7 or 8:00 AM.

The family picture to the right is from 1970. It is a rare photo of my grandmother, my mom and her siblings, and all us cousins. My dad took the photo - so he's not in it. And Grandpa was at work... (bonus points to non family members if you can figure out which one is me...)

Grandpa - this gang is your legacy... I hope we all continue to do you proud.

Happy Birthday!

PS - I think Grandpa is watching... one Halloween my Mom put on those "groucho glasses" and said "A Little Vermouth" and we cracked up saying she looked JUST LIKE Grandpa. Well, I just did a google image search on my grandfather's last name - and came up with THIS. Hmmm....

Love ya Grandpa!


Suzan said...

How wonderful to have such vivid memories of your grandfather!

Jen said...

Your grandpa sounds a lot like mine. Are you the front row, red gingham dress? I LOVE that black floral dress in the back row, I swear we have that same black and white print in cotton at the shop.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the memories......especially that last picture, I sure didn't remember that one and where were we when it was taken? Not the most flattering shot of me!

One of my favorite pictures of Grandpa was taken when we went up for their 50th wedding anniversary and he introduced his first great grandson to his first piece of pizza! And several years later, when he came down to visit in SC, we got a picture of the two of them playing checkers.
I remember staying up late at night to greet him when he came home from the store. He would tickle us as we all climbed on him searching for the candy he would always hide in his pockets.

Happy Birthday Grandpa! We miss you!