This place has the same bells!
After high school but before I joined the Navy I moved to NW Iowa for about six months. I was living in an old hotel converted into an apartment building. One Friday night I got home from work and was at the front desk paying my rent (we paid by the week). I had this weird, warm feeling, I turned around and their they were my grandpa and grandma. They drove the 450 miles to surprise me and spend the weekend. I was having some car trouble and money was tight so one of the things he insisted on doing was help me shop for a good car. We ended up getting a good car, he borrowed me the money to get it. I paid him back when I sold my other one just before I joined the navy.
One things I remember about that trip was eating lunch the next day. That town only had one little diner. We had breakfast there that morning, when for a drive (because that is what you do) then came there for lunch. But when we came in for lunch we came through a different door. They had this set of sleigh bells hanging on the wall. Grandma kept looking at those, finally she said, this place has the same bells as that place this morning. I looked at grandpa, we both said at the same time “what place this morning?” She said “the place we ate this morning”. Grandpa and I both chuckled about that and said that was the place, then she smiled with that cute thin smile. Even though she was slightly embarrassed, she had the humility to laugh at herself.
Bicentennial Quarters, Silver Dollars and Wooden Nickels
From the times I could remember to when I left to go into the Navy my grandparents would always have a Christmas stocking for all the grandkids, there were a total of five of us. Each year there would be a little candy but every year there would be at least one silver dollar and since 1976 there would be a couple of bicentennial quarters. In 1976 they gave each of us a US Mint proof set of quarters. These silver dollars are not the pre-1964 actual silver one dollar coins. They are just the one dollar large coin that is still called a silver dollar.
To this day I will separate out a bicentennial quarter if I get it as change in a store, and if I happen to see a cashier has silver dollars I will buy as many as they have, which usually is not that many.
When ever we would say good bye to grandpa and grandma my grandpa would say “don’t take any wooden nickels”. Which was his way of saying be careful. One day, it was a few years before he died, as I was leaving his house he said that, then got this goofy grin on his face, reached in his pants pocket and pulled out a wooden nickel and gave it to me. I guess it is safe to take a wooden nickel from him.
St. Louis Airport
I was in the navy for about 18 months. I got a chance to come back to Great Lakes for a short school. I was hoping that I would be able to get up home to visit. I wanted to see my other grandpa who was in the hospital. I managed the time but didn’t have the money. I was talking with my grandpa O. while I was waiting for a flight in the St. Louis Airport, he asked if I was going to be able to come home. I explained my predicament, not with any agenda, just to explain why I couldn’t make it home. We talked a little bit more then said our goodbyes.
I had about 45 minutes for my next flight and was waiting by the gate, then I heard my name called on the Public Address to “Please pick up a white phone” (this was way before anybody had cell phones). I picked up the white phone, said my name and they connected me, it was my grandpa, he said that he and grandma talked about it and if I had the money with me to get a flight home, he would give me that when I got home. I was happy and excited to get home to see them and my other grandpa. He did say that I couldn’t tell anyone about it, which I thought was odd, but OK.
I get home for the weekend, they pick me up at the little country airport. I go to the hospital on Saturday to see my other grandpa G, my grandma G wasn’t in the room. He was a little sleepy but ok, he had some minor heart issues, congestive heart failure. We talked for a few minutes then I went down to the smoking area, I was still smoking at the time. In that time my grandma G came back, my grandpa G told her that I was there and we were just talking. She thought he was hallucinating or dreaming, it was almost an argument when I walked back into the room. My grandpa G had an I told you so grin on his face. My grandma G’s face twisted up in a distorted knot of pissed off and I don’t know what. She was always a witch. Never a nice thing to say, if she did say something that appeared nice it was such a backhanded complement it would leave your head spinning. They were my dad’s parents. They were the polar opposite of my grandpa and grandma O, who were my mom’s parents.
So that Saturday night I stopped up a the local bar where my oldest cousin would always be found holding down one corner of a bar. He never liked me, and I had always found myself trying to win his approval, anyway I stopped up to say high and have a beer or two. He was an odd duck, big guy, ego bigger, drove a Cadillac, you get the picture. He looks at me tips his head back so he can look down at me while he talks and says “Say, what do you know about grandpa giving all the kids $100?” That was the one thing shared, he was my oldest cousin on my mom’s side. I looked back, thought for minute, ‘that is why grandpa said not to say anything’ then shook my head and said “I don’t know, I thought it was odd too”.
That gesture to help me get home, without asking cost them $500, which was a lot of money back then, they were not wealthy, but generous.
to be continued…