Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Grandpa: Work, Clean-up, & Nails

My grandparents have been a big part of my life, so I think about them all a lot.  These are special times in our family so they’ve been in my thoughts even more in the last few months and I wanted to share some memories that pertain to me and these properties we call Pig’s Ears.  Now I think of my parents all the time too, but it seems like it’s more in a personal way.  For example, when I'm complimented or recognized for a positive trait that someone sees in me, I typically think, “I wish Mom or Dad could hear that because they’re really talking about them.”  Or I say or do something that’s thoughtful or extra funny and naturally think, “That’s something my Dad or Mom would do/say.”  

My thoughts that link back to my grandparents are more work related.  I don’t know how else to explain it, but when I’m working I'm reminded of them frequently.

Today would be my Grandpa’s birthday; my Dad’s dad.  His family traces back to the Pennsylvania Dutch which is likely why he always called Eastern PA, ‘God’s Country.’  My grandpa stopped going to school when my great-grandfather got sick with what he always called ‘the muscle disease.’  Besides taking a lead role in helping my great-grandmother keep their small family farm going, he was also a primary caregiver for his bedridden dad for over two decades.

My grandpa w/ his dad before the Great Depression
and prior to my Gt. Grandfather's illness.
When my great-grandfather passed away, my grandpa got married and started his life away from the farm.  He traveled and worked in sales selling feed for a milling company.  As a side business (and then into retirement) he boarded and trained horses.  He had a sizable barn for the animals, feed, and equipment that he needed to operate his stable so because Grandpa was a horseman I had plenty of opportunities to work with him. 

Hauling material into one of my projects reminds me of stocking my grandpa’s barn with hay or straw.  These are really good memories.  The messiness that is oftentimes a part of the initial cleanup of some of my Pig’s Ear properties has more than once reminded me of cleaning out the stalls and loading up his wooden manure spreader, which was a little on the nasty side, but all things considered still pretty fond recollections.  But the thing that reminds me most of my grandpa is the nails that I use to put my houses back together since he always supplied me with this hardware until I left home for college as a teenager. 

My grandpa was a pipe smoker and his tobacco was Sir Walter Raleigh.  He bought it in cans which he saved and reused.  When I ran out of nails at home, I’d let him know and he’d hook me up with more; 8 pennies or framing nails (16d), either of the two different sizes that he always had a 50# box of for mending fences and the barn.  I used those nails for our own barn maintenance (something that I really enjoyed doing whether we needed it or not) and also for building my tree houses.  Hammering nails is a skill.  It’s easy to learn, but it takes some practice and I learned early and got comfortable with a hammer and nails with the help of Grandpa and his endless supply in the orange and black cans.

Last month, I had to buy more 16d sinkers and was surprised that something about buying that 30# bucket of hardware still filled me with some boyish-type excitement, the same thrill that I’d get when my grandpa would give me another full can.  Like the smell of someone smoking a pipe, the plodding, the clean-up, and the nails that are part of my work will always remind me of my grandpa. 

2000 - Our last family picture with Grandpa. 
He was 93 and had one more birthday. 

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