Sunday, September 28, 2008

an excercise: speaking with the dead

This is the result of a college Creative writing class between 10 to 20 years ago. The assignment was to speak with someone that has passed on you always wanted to know or know better.

I chose my dad's Dad. (My Grandfather)

Fred: Hi Grandpa. I've been waiting 30 years to talk to you.
Grandpa:Even though I passed on in 1970 it seems you've found a way to talk to me.
Fred: I'm sorry I was such a mess the last time you saw me.
Grandpa:That's okay Grandson. I got a better perspective of it on the other side.
Fred: That's good.
Grandpa:When you were young I could see the fire in your eyes and that you were a lot like me. I was real scared for you, though. Your father and mother were raising you in that crazy religion stuff. I was afraid you wouldn't grow up right. I told your Dad when you were 12 that he was going to have trouble with you. I asked you to rototill my fields when you were 12. You just looked at me and walked away. In my day I would have skinned your hide for that.
Fred: I just wasn't used to be treated that way, Grandpa.
Grandpa: I realized that and asked your Dad for help.
Fred: Dad understood what was bothering me. Besides that rototiller was dangerous.
Grandpa: Dangerous?
Fred:Yes, Grandpa. It wasn't that safe. It was so old being out of the 1940s that it had no safety devices at all and I was worried since I wasn't used to using one that is was going to take off one or more of my toes. Also, a few years before I had an accident with a hand push lanwmower with my foot. I still have a scar on top of my foot from that.
Grandpa: You've got to be tough if your going to carry the family name!
Fred: Yeah. That's what Dad always said. Did he really start hunting at age 4?
Grandpa:No. Tommy was 4 and your Dad was 5 or 6 and Bob was 8 when they all started hunting with guns together. Tommy had a .22 pistol and Fred Sr. had the .22 pump rifle and Bob had a small .312 gauge shotgun. I sent them out across Coos Bay, Oregon to get doves for dinner but they brought back robins instead. Let's see, Freddie. This must have been about 1921 if your Dad was 5 or 6. Blanche(dad's mom) and I laughed our butts off when the kids weren't looking later that night. The boys were just so proud of themselves bringing back our dinner for the first time that we didn't have the heart to tell them they weren't doves just then.
Fred: I wish I had been given time to know you better, Grandpa.
Grandpa: I wanted that too, Freddie. But as you know by now life doesn't always bring us what we want.
Fred: Dad always said he hated you. Do you think that's really true.
Grandpa: If he hated me so much why do you think he worked for me and built a place for himself and you and your Mom and her Mom on my land and stayed there until he was 36.
Fred: Yeah. That's what I thought too, Grandpa.
Grandpa: It's a lot easier to hate someone than to love them if you decide to leave home and go out on your own like your Dad and Mom did when they moved from Seattle to San Diego when you were 4.
Fred: Why did you start living 6 months a year in Idaho on your 2000 acre mining claim every year?
Grandpa: When I retired from being an Electrical Contractor I was pretty bored and Blanche and I argued a lot. So I started spending spring and summers in Elk City, Idaho on my mining claim.
Fred: Don't you think Blanche got lonely?
Grandpa: I was 20 before 1910. I grew up in a much different world with somewhat different values than now. As a man I could pretty much do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I financially supported Blanche from 1912 until I died, raised 5 kids and put them all through high school and sent my two daughters through college. I did pretty good considering the times.
Fred:Do you think your oldest son, Bob, found the $25,000 you buried in the front yard during the depression because you couldn't trust the banks and bought a house with it?
Grandpa: Yeah. When I dug about 20 holes and couldn't find it and then Bob Bought that house for his wife I kind of figured that is what had happened.
Fred: Were you angry with him/
Grandpa: Actually, I kind of admired his gumption. It takes a lot to survive in this world, Freddie, as you know.
Fred: A whole lot of people seemed to be pretty scared of you.
Grandpa: Mostly all that is bluff that you need for order in a family. However, I could hold my own in any situation even away from my family.
Fred:Did you really shoot the ranger's hat off when he came to take away your mining claim and cabin?
Grandpa: Yes.That was pretty crazy of me but I was so old I figured I'd get away with it. besides, even though the mining claim laws had been changed they didn't take away my claim and cabin until after I died.
Fred: Was the story about the strawberries and gas coupons during World War II true/
Grandpa: those were pretty crazy times, freddie. You just had to stand up for your rights or you just got run over by the system. I had raised my victory garden east of the mountains and needed my gas coupons to get my strawberries to market. They coupon dispenser people told me that Strawberry season was over and wouldn't give me my gas coupons so I went out to my panel truck(called a van today) and got my double barreled shotgun from behind my seat. I walked in and laid it on the counter unloaded and asked again for my gas coupons and lo and behold they gave me my gas coupons. It was just a cowboy old fashioned way to cut through red tape and the way it was done when I grew up. Again, I was old and they were used to some of us old timers being like this from growing up in the 1800s so I got away with it. It was just the way things were done when I grew up in Kansas and points west.
Fred: I'm amazed that is a true story.

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