View Full Version : Grandfather's stories

04-21-2007, 08:42 AM
My Grandfather had about a bazillion good stories. It's too bad we never taped them, or wrote them down. Some have stuck in my mind though. Perhaps not perfectly, but then again they might not have been perfect to start out....
Jack's "Racism" thread jiggled one loose....
(I speak in my Grandfather's voice)
Well, Roy Coombs and I were talking about the editor of the Cinncinati Press, and I said we ought to bring him to the club for lunch. Roy just looked at me and laughed. A few weeks later Jack Gold was in town and I suggested again to Roy that we bring Jack to the club for lunch. Jack said that he'd rather just go to the Waldorf. I really thought that he'd like the club though, so I kept on pressing for lunch there. Finally Jack said; "Look, John... They won't let me in there..." I assured him that he could be my guest, that he didn't need to be a member. Again he told me that he couldn't go in to the club. Then it occured to me that Jack might be financially embarrased, so I told him the paper would pick up the tab.
Roy was just sitting there looking uncomfortable. Finally he said "Look, John, Just drop it. Jack doesn't want to go to the club."
A few months later Jack was back in town, and I suggested the club again, figuring he might have gotten over whatever monetary problems he had. He just looked at me and said; "John, They won't let someone like me into your club... I'm Jewish..."
I looked at Roy who just shrugged and nodded.
I cancelled the company membership to the club that afternoon.
It had never occured to me that Jack was Jewish, or that the club didn't allow Jewish people to be members.... It just never crossed my mind...

04-21-2007, 09:18 AM
Does a Jewish person look differently than the other people at that club? Or did he just not want to eat where he knew that he wasn't wanted?

My yacht club was formed (or so I am told, I wasn't around in the 1930's) because the other clubs would not allow in Catholics, either that or the Catholics just wanted their own club. The former is the story that was always told, but I am not so sure of things now. When I first started hanging around as a junior the other guys would play basketball in the CYO league (the yacht club had it's own team). I believe that I was about the second Protestant to be allowed to join. No one ever specifically asked me and it certainly wasn't on any application form, but I was told that they just 'knew' that I wasn't a Catholic. Of course they did since I didn't go to church with any of them.

I never understood this discrimination that a lot of people have against Catholics. Most of my best friends are Catholic. I went to a Catholic college, as did my wife. I grew up on a street where we were the only non-Catholics there and the big argument that raged on and on was whether or not we were in St.Monica's parish or Little Flower's parish. I have always had to defend my Catholic friends to other Christians when they get into a Catholic bashing mood. When I was young Mobile was about 40-50% Catholic. Now I believe that it is less than 20%.

My first year at high school was spent at a nondenominational academy and because it was not a religious school many of my classmates were Jewish or Greek Orthodox kids whose parents didn't want them going to the Catholic or Protestant church schools that popped up at the beginning of the busing era. I have always been a lot more interested in learning about different viewpoints of God than I ever have been in disparaging someone for their religious views. A guy that was one of the first to teach me my trade is a Hindu. We were talking about religion one day because one of my co-workers had openly insulted this man for his beliefs and I was trying to calm him down. A kind and gentle soul, he told me 'Mickey, there is only God. Men make the argument'. That stuck with me to this day and always will.

Sorry about the hijack. Wasn't thinking properly. I don't have any stories to remember either of my grandfathers. You are truly blessed to have a grandfather who shared things with you, and thank you for sharing them with us.

Mickey Lake

04-21-2007, 09:43 AM
Apparently some people make assumptions about names... IE: A name with "Gold" "Stein" "Man" "Stone".... Probably implies "Jewish" Or, as my Grandfather pointed out (Different story, but I may share this one too in a day or so...), German.

04-22-2007, 09:39 AM
[At some point during the depression], Sam Sieman and I were at the hotel in Quebec city, having cocktails before dinner. One of the local editors invited us to join his poker game that evening after dinner. Sam was a good card player, but I hadn't picked up a deck since I was a teenager I don't think. The editor assured us that while money would change hands, it was a friendly game, so Sam and I decided to sit in.
After dinner Sam and I followed our host to the back room off the dining room, and met the other players. Cigars and whiskey,and you'd never know there was a depression on by looking at these men. Fine tailored suits, gold lapel pins.... Anyway, Sam was doing pretty well by midnight or so, and I hadn't lost very much, and we decided it was time to go to bed. The local editor, however, had lost heavily, and part of that to Sam. He implored us to stay a little longer so that he could have a chance to win some of it back. I thought this was a bad idea, and offered to loan him the money so he could continue to play, but he refused. Eventually Sam decided to stay, so I did too.
I couldn't lose. If the editor had 2 pair, I had a straight.... After an hour I had all of the man's money, including his bank account. He was near tears, and begged to play one more hand.....Deed to his house, that he lived in with his new bride and baby. I refused. He accused me of trying to ruin him. I agreed to one last hand, figuring that I couldfold gracefully, allowing him to keep his house, and win back a bit of the money. He folded on the deal. I tried to get him to at least keep his deed, but he was a stubborn man, and swore he'd have a messenger run it over to the hotel first thing in the morning. Sam and I went to our rooms.
The next morning there was a knock on my door, and the bellman handed me an envelope.
I heard a few months later that the editor had taken up drinking heavily, got fired, and was living on the street.
To set the record straight, I had the deed sent to the editor's wife that same morning....
This is why I refuse to play even a friendly game of poker anymore....
I was part of the ruin of a good man.

04-23-2007, 08:51 AM
The trip from Roanoke to Virginia beach was a 2 axel, 3 tire trip in my old Maxwell. I asked my cutie to go to the beach one day, and she told me she'd never even seen the ocean, and was very excited. Her father was a Baptist minister, and made me swear that I'd keep my hands to myself. Being an honest man I swore to keep my hands to myself. We set off early on Saturday morning, expecting to be at the beach by noon...
By noon we were at a garage in Spout Spring, watching the mechanic weld my rear axel back together. It broke about a mile past where I'd had to fix a flat tire. We were lucky that another car came along and gave us a lift to the garage. Not much else goes on in Spout Spring, but they do have a good mechanic.
By 4:30 we were in Sedley, fixing another flat tire, and I could almost smell the salt water.... My girl thought I was crazy, but she kept standing on the running board, trying to see over the tree tops to see if she could see the ocean.
We got to the beach just as the sun was sliding behind the trees. My girl was so excited that she couldn't stop talking. Running up to the road, and back down to the waters edge, terrified that a giant wave would come and drag her out to sea. She'd taken her shoes off, and her feet were caked in the fine white sand. "Like cake flour" she said over and over.
She'd packed some sandwiches and tea, which we ate sitting on a bench looking at the lights glinting off the water.
The axel broke again just outside of Richmond. My brother and aunt and uncle still lived there, and still operated the mill, so we paid a man to give us a ride up to my uncle's place. Now remember, there weren't so many phones in those days, so calling the preacher to tell him we were going to be a little bit late wasn't so easy. But my uncle had had a telephone installed a few months prior, and we managed to get a call through to the operator in Roanoke, who said she'd have her boy run a message over to the minister....
The next morning my brother picked us up early, and we took the broken axel down to the mill where the black man who took care of the mill machines was waiting for us. He welded it back together, and thanked us for getting him out of having to go to church! I think my brother gave him a quarter.
We had the axel back on the car by noon. We had a basket of my aunt's fried chicken in the back seat, a big jar of sweet tea, and a smaller jar of clear liquid that my uncle had slipped to me when my aunt wasn't looking.
While I changed a flat tire on the side of the road outside of Goodview, my cutie pie had spread out a cloth and set up a nice looking picnic. Nothing like good fried chicken and sweet tea! Especially when you put j u s t a l i t t l e drop of the clear liquid into the tea to strengthen it just a bit....
We got back to the minister's house sometime after dark, and it was clear that he was none too pleased with me.
I sold that car to my brother, and bought a Tucker...

04-23-2007, 03:35 PM
I don't know about the other knuckleheads here but I'm lovin' these stories! Keep dredging 'em up from the ol' memory bank. :)


S.V. Airlie
04-23-2007, 03:56 PM
These stories a great! keep them coming. I never knew my granfathers.. Both died in 1937 or 38... I wish I had known them.
So keep yours coming please.

04-24-2007, 08:17 AM
Roy Koontz and I went fishing up in the Connecticut lakes in Quebec pretty often. Sometimes Sam Sieman would join us, but Sam lived on an island in the middle of Lake Temagami most of the summer, and was pretty hard to get ahold of.
We'd get a room at the [Royal] hotel and take off from there. We always had a guide, usually some local looking for a little extra money, but these guys knew the lakes. We'd spend a few days or a week out at the fishing camps with a bunch of other guys, some of whom we'd met before, sometimes complete strangers. It was pretty rough out there, but no real trouble unless some tramp came through trying to steal things. One time we took your mother when she was about 14 years old..... She was the only one who caught a fish that whole trip. The guide made a rule about women in the camp after that.
This time Roy and I were out for quite a while, I remember. We were down on the 3rd Connecticut lake, which was the most remote. You had to put a drop or 2 of kerosene in your morning shot of whiskey to keep the mosquitoes away. The Blackfles would eat you alive and then come back for more.
On our way back to the hotel we got stuck, and took a room at a boarding house. They had a big long table where they served meals. Now we'd been out in the fish camps for a week, and didn't look or smell any better than any of the hard luck cases that were seated with us at the table. Roy had got into a conversation with the man sitting on his other side when the plates were served. The man Roy was talking to must not have had a meal in a while and was wolfing his food down like a hound. When Roy turned to me to say something, the guy tried to steal the piece of steak off of Roy's plate. Well, Roy must have seen this out of the corner of his eye because he pinned the man's hand to the table top with his fork. Roy told the guy, "If you'd asked, I would have given it to you. Now you'll have to sit there and watch me finish my meal." I never knew Roy had a mean side, but I guess he did because he ate that meal slower than I'd ever seen him eat, and he saved the steak for last... Then he gave the steak bone to the dog.
When we got back to the hotel there was a message from Sam Sieman to meet him at the paper. When we got there Sam was just making plans for lunch, and asked us to join him. While Roy went to take care of some business I told Sam the story of the steak and the fork.... Sam just nodded and said "Guess the guy should have asked, thanks for warning me not to sit on Roy's right hand side!", and then he gave me a big wink....

04-24-2007, 10:06 AM
My grandfather was a heck of a guy.His work ethic was such that he firmly believed that everybody should be up and ready to go to work by 4:30 or at least 5 AM every work day.
HE would get up, walk the property around his house along the line by our house which was adjoining and as he got close to our house would loudly clear his throat to make sure we woke up.You couldnt help hearing him, .What a guy he was.
He would go to work, (he built all his houses by hand) work on somebodies house all day,Come home and work in his shop on some project or other.A lot of the time it was a toy for my brother and me.A wooden horse we could "ride" etc.
Since we lived on the property and my mother was a stay at home mom at that time, her job was to MAKE SURE the main gate was open so he could drive thru and park his car.
One day she forgot,so, he just drove THROUGH the gate and smashed it all too hell,got out of the car and calmly walked to his house.The next sat morning he built a new gate, and that one stayed in one piece for many years.
My grandfather took me just about everywhere he went in his off time.If he got a haircut,I was in the next chair.When he went down to the railyard to visit friends that worked on the trains , I was right there climbing on those ole locomotives,with the boilers fired ,in the cab,playing on trains like they belonged to me,while my "pa" chatted with his pals.
When we moved to that property on my "pa's land my uncle had sold us their old house when they built a new one.The problem was the house wasnt were it needed to be.My "pa" solved that problem by calling friends that had bulldozers.They came over, picked the house up with a bulldozer on each side,set it back down on the bulldozers trailer,and hauled it to where it needed to be.
On the way to the new location, they came to a bridge that was too narrow for the house to pass thru.My "pa" solved that problem by climbing up on top of the house and with a HANDSAW proceeded to cut half the side porch off the house and let it fall into the creek.They then hauled the house to the location, picked it up off the trailer and sat it back down on the new foundation that my "pa" had already laid out with block.
BTW the cost of that house that my parents bought from my uncle was $ 3,000.They had to make payments to my uncle until it was paid off, my dad had never seen that much money in one place in his life at that point.
I still miss my Grandfather,he showed me Sputnick when it went over at night,explained how the stars "worked". Made a big deal out of Jack Kennedy getting elected by those "crooks" ( he meant JOE KENNEDY) and went republican.You DID NOT WANT to get into a political discussion with my grandfather.
Because of my grand fathers interest I was interested in politics at the 9 or 10 and remember watching the 60 election with great interest.
One more thing about my "pa" he had this habit of going to bed when the sun went down, and believed everybody should.If he had company when it was his bedtime, he would stand up, and announce to all that "he was going to bed to give everybody a chance to go home" walk out of the room, and that was it.
My grandfather ran out of work in the 30's and hauled moonshine to make ends meet.But he hated it,felt it was dishonest , and as soon as work opened back up went back to making an "honest living".
I miss him,time hasnt deminished that,and he's been gone since '91, died at the age of 92', just worn out.

04-25-2007, 08:46 AM
My brother Jim and I would get in his car and drive into town to meet some girls there. Jim's car had a fold out seat in the back, kind of like a "rumble seat". One day one of the girls said why didn't we take a drive up into the mountains and she knew a place where you could get a jar of whiskey. So we all got into Jim's car, and headed up this mountain road. Around one corner there was this big stump from an old cucumber tree, and the girl told us to stop. She took a mason jar and asked Jim for a dollar. Put the dollar in the jar,put the jar on the stump, and ran back to the car giggling. She told Jim to toot the horn 3 times and drive away.
So we drove on up the mountain some more until we came to a wooden bridge going over a very steep gorge with a L i t t l e t e e n y stream way down at the bottom. Jim didn't want to drive his car over that bridge, and the girl said we'd probably gone far enough anyway, so we turned around and headed back down the mountain. We stopped at the stump again and the girl got out and went around behind it. She came skipping back with a mason jar full up with clear liquid. I knew this wasn't "Whiskey". Jim sure as hell knew it wasn't whiskey. He may have been studying to be a Methodist preacher, but he knew his way around town too....
A trip up to that creaky old wooden bridge became quite a regular thing that summer...

Some friends, and my brother and I built a little camp on the James River when we were kids. Probably about 13 or 14 years old. We'd go up there in our canoes, probably 20 miles or so from home, and spend the weekends fishing and hunting. Sometimes I'd go up by myself early and get things ready. Put in a fresh supply of cooking wood., see if I could shoot a couple of ducks and have them all ready plucked by the time the guys got there. Back then there were still Indians that lived on the river, and I used to sneak over and watch them from the bushes. Nothing much was ever going on. Their village didn't look any different than the [black] towns, but I'd heard that the Indian girls would walk around without shirts on sometimes... Never happened while I was watching...
We used to find arrowheads and other things all along the river in those days. We made bows out of Hickory, and arrows from willow branches, and we'd put the arrowheads on them, and make flights from duck wing feathers. I still have that bow. It's the one about as tall as you are with the red string grip. I found a stone axe in the mud too, and rattles made from turtle shells.
There were lots of fish in the river then. You could just throw your line in and have dinner on the fire in 5 minutes. One time Jim caught a Sturgeon as big as he was with just a handline. We all thought he was going to lose that fight I'll tell you!
We'd eat squirrels, and beavers, and 'coons. Cover ourselves in soot and run around like wildmen. You always had your knife with you, so you could stay out thee as long as you wanted, as long as you didn't have responsibilities at home. My aunt and uncle were pretty relaxed about that. As long as I got everything at the mill done by friday morning, I could take off friday by noon, right after I brought the workers their beer.
The workers (the white ones) would bring their dinner to the mill in these little tin pails with tight fitting lids. About 11:30 my job was to collect all these pails (empty) and run up to the local bar. The bar owner would fill each pail, put the lid back on nice and tight. I guess my uncle must have had some sort of account there, because I never paid for the beer. The owner would usually give me a glass of beer for my efforts, and I'd go running back to the mill with 4 pails of beer. One time a lid came free, and I got beer all down my front. I had to go back and get it filled back up again, and when I got back to the mill, the guys were mad as hornets that I'd wasted half their lunch time...

04-28-2007, 07:43 AM
I took a job at a medical labratory on Long Island when I was about 20. My job was to look at samples and determine what the problem was, if there was a problem. No one ever asked if I was qualified, and I never told them that I wasn't. When I found something that looked off, I'd read this book they had there, and try to figure out what it was I was looking at. One day a man from the State of New York came in and asked for my license.
My boss was sorry to see me go, and told me to come back when I'd gotten my degree.
I moved back down to Virginia, and went back to work at my uncle's mill for a while. One day I saw an ad for an editor of the school newspaper at the university. I applied, and got the job. I'm guessing that no one else applied. I had a whole staff of student reporters, writers, type setters.....The whole thing, and they all answered to me. I answered to the dean. Aside from the weekly paper, we also put out a quarterly magazine called "The Pealing of the Bell". Which was a reference to the great conflagration.
I'd been there for about 2 years when I got called in to the dean's office. It seems that some of the faculty, trustees, and alumni took exception to the cover of the graduation issue of the magazine which featured a silouhette of a buxom gal pulling off her sweater. And the slightly altered magazine title..."The Peeling of the Belle".
The dean suggested that it was a shame that he would have to expell me from college with only a year to go until I graduated.
I suggested that it would be a shame if I were to have to tell the trustees that the dean had hired me to run the college paper for the last two years, without ever checking to see if I was enrolled in the university.
We reached an agreement. He talked to some people at the Richmond paper, and they hired me to work in production. I kept my mouth shut to the board of trustees.