Tell me about your grandpa

In reading the mortality thread a quote from Ruffian’s post:

started me thinking about my own grandpa. He’s a great, perfectly stereotypical Sicilian, who goes around muttering about the neighbors in Italian, makes an incredible red sauce with his own home-grown tomatoes and sweet basil, and once called me every ten minutes on my hour-long drive home, because he was worried about my old, old car. Several years ago, when Seinfield was at the height of popularity, he gave me a five minute rant on why he hated the show. Now he watches it every night in re-runs and denies the possibility of ever saying such a thing.

So tell me about your grandpa. Grandmas welcome, too :slight_smile:

Paternal Grandpa (1890-1965): Sweet, intellectual, completely irresponsible. Taught my sister and I about archeology and astronomy. Head-in-the-clouds idealist, was in on the beginning of the Russian Revolution, got out in 1911 while the getting was good. Joined all the left-wing political parties, got tossed out on his ass for standing up and telling them what was wrong with them. Was a terrible husband and father but a terrific old grandfather.

Maternal Grandpa (1898-1990): Miserable old sonofabitch. Born in Transylvania, came here as a tot, grew up to be a rich, successful businessman (owned one of the biggest presses in Phila.). Nastly, humorless, bigoted, cold. Only went to his funeral to make sure he was dead.

Anyone want to hear about my grandmothers, the lesbian and the psycho?

I wish I could. All of my grandparents died before I was born. :frowning:

Maternal - Disaproving, opinionated, hates laziness, works too hard for his age. There is a slight bond between me and him, but you wouldn’t know it if you saw us in the same room.

Paternal. Seen him once in my adult life (and probably no more than once in my childhood). very tall.

Maternal Grandfather (1880-1945): I never knew him because he died well before I was born. He was the son of a confederate Civil War veteran; he had several sisters but only one brother, who died in the 1918 flu epidemic. He married the first time around 1905. He and his wife had 3 children; they seperated around 1920, whereupon, despite being a Southern Baptist, he had an affair with a woman and got her pregnant. Don’t know what became of the child, as he didn’t marry this woman. Instead he married my grandmother in 1931 and they had 4 daughters. He had inherited a fortune but either squandered it or lost it in the depression and thus had to work the rest of his life. His last job was at a shipyard where he suffered a back injury; he died from complications of this in 1945 a few weeks before his 65th birthday.

Paternal Grandfather (1905-1980): His father abandoned the family around 1910 and he and his brother were sent to an orphanage while his mother went east to find work. Later she was able to put them in a boarding school; apparently the headmaster there was kind as Grandpa remembered him fondly. In the late 20’s he, his brother, and a friend bought some stock which they sold just before the crash. They used the money from the stocks to tour the US while everyone else was standing in breadlines. Lucky bastard.

He married in 1934 and in 1947 he, his wife, and 3 children moved to Florida where he remained until his death. I remember him having a very messy house–you couldn’t even see the living room floor for all the unopened mail–but he had a beautiful patio with tropical plants and a bird feeder. He was quite fond of birds and could indentify many kinds. He also called the lizards on the patio “Streakers,” which amused me and my sister quite a bit during the streaking fad.

OK, is that enough? Or can I tell you about my great great grandfather too?

Now the grandmas.
Maternal - Very very mellow and good natured. sees nothing but good in people. slightly dotty with a drinking problem. Much like my mother (apart from the drinking)
Paternal - See her a lot more than my paternal grandad, in fact probably once a month before I moved to IOM. She’s very quiet and withdrawn. Doesn’t say much but never says anything negative.
Now the step-grandparents…
Step-Paternal grandma. very active and completely in full possesion of all her marbles. She is a regular church-goer. Of all the 8 grandparents I have she’s the one who’s company I most enjoy (despite my being an atheist and her being the most outwardly religious of the lot).

Step-paternal grandpa. A lot like grandpa simpson with tales of the war and his early life that are endless and go off on wild tangents, but I sit paitently and listen to it all.
Step-maternal grandma. racist and opinionated. that’s all I will say.

Step-maternal grandpa. the only one of the 8 who is no longer alive. I always liked him. would often bump into him as he stood outside a shop waiting for vera.
did I miss anyone?


My grampa was a farmer. Decided to build a mobile home park. 40 acres, 230 lots. I cut my teeth there.

Some little asshole punk from my brothers hi-school picked a fight with my grand dad. One punch to the chest and my grandfather was dead. Laying in the street dead.

My brother cleaned the asshole punks clock. Asshole punk never went to jail.

My brother got suspended from school.


I almost forgot.


Paternal grandparents: Grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina, then went to Flint, MI to work for Ford for 30 years. Retired back to NC. One day, while Grandpa was gone bear-hunting, and Grandma was staying with her sister, said sister had a heart attack and died. Right after calling for an ambulance for her sister, Grandma also had a heart attack and died that same day. Grandma was cranky and dipped snuff. I’d never really been able to relate to her, maybe because she hadn’t had any girls of her own, only boys. When I was 19, I spent a summer in NC with my Grandpa, and we became very close during that time. He died of cancer shortly after that.

Maternal grandparents: Lived in Michigan their whole lives. Grandpa was in the Navy, and then a postman. He was very handsome and devilish, Grandma was very homey- always cleaning and cooking. According to my mom and her sisters, they were the best parents in all the land. Very good grandparents to me, also. My aunt tells the story of when as an adult, she had gone to Virginia. She came home and asked her father “Have you ever been in Virginia?” With a twinkle in his eye and a grin, he replied “OH YES!!” Turns out he’d dated someone named Virginia before he met grandma. Heh.

Gosh, where to begin? My paternal grandfather was a factory worker in NE Illinois who drank too much and was so mean to his children that his oldest son (my uncle Bud) physically threw him out of bar when Bud returned from his Army stint. Would probably be considered physically abusive today, although his kids don’t make much of it. Mellowed a great deal in his old age, which is the era I knew him. Gradually lost his mind to Alzheimers, and died in the spring of 1994. I missed my senior high school prom to be a pall-bearer a his funeral. I remember being surprised at how light the casket was; he was 6-feet, 4-inches tall, but he weighed only 120 pounds when he died.
He willed me a .22 rifle, a fairly rare one with some collector value. I didn’t know him well, but I treasure that gun.

Maternal grandfather? Geez. He knocked up my grandmother when she was a teenager, then walked out on her ten years later, after having another kid. He was a corrupt cop, a mediocre businessman, a lousy father and husband, and an indifferent grandfather. He even cheated on his SECOND wife. He’s still alive, although very sick and slowly dying. All the above means he’s virtually alone now. I sincerely believe my mother is the only person on earth who cares whether he lives or dies, and even SHE can’t give me a precise reason why. He took thousands of dollars from her, and never paid it back. He never provided assistance of any kind when she really needed it, but always called on her for help after his life went to shit. Oh well.


Maternal Grandma: Opinionated woman, who loves her kids and grandkids but sticks her nose in places where it doesn’t belong. Is a shopaholic and makes some awesome oatbread.

Maternal Grandpa: Distant, didn’t know him that well. Mostly can recall him sitting in the living room reading the paper as us grandkids played around him.

Paternal Grandma: also opinionated, has a story for darn near anything and is full of old wives tales. Makes the best relishes, jellies, pickles and darn near anything else. I love her cabbage rolls, have never found anything to even come close (not even her sister’s) Taught me some of the womanly arts (sewing, crochet and some cooking)

Paternal Grandpa: Constantly doing crosswords, he got me hooked and I couldn’t leave a puzzle book anywhere else it would disappear and be returned all filled in. Stole your ice cream after sneakily making you look the other way, a fan of jeopardy. He would’ve gotten a kick out of Ken Jennings.

Paternal Great Grandma: sweet lady, made the best homemade donuts. Lots of memories of playing with the toys she kept for the great grandkids then having juice (or coffee as we got older) and fresh donuts. Haven’t seen her in a bit, next time I get to the city I must do so.

Same here. In fact, we don’t even know who my maternal grandfather was. How about I write about my dad instead (who is sometimes mistaken for my grandfather)?

Dad was born in Racine, Wisconsin on 20 August 1925. He and his four siblings had a troubled childhood, they spent much of their time in Racine’s orphanage. Their mother was evidently mentally unstable; she insisted on calling her children by nicknames because she didn’t want anyone to know they belonged to her. I don’t know much about their father other than that he died in 1945.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor gave Dad and his brother a way out of orphanage life. Uncle Buddy enlisted right away but Dad, being under age, had to wait. Wanting to join his older brother in the Navy, Dad enlisted in early 1942, lying about his age. His habit of having candy around while in basic training earned him the nickname “Geedunk”. His tour of duty took him to Orange, TX, Pearl Harbor, and a destroyer escort in the South Pacific. His duty on the DE was fire control, meaning he helped aim the big guns.

Dad evidently met Mom while at Pearl, she was a librarian in Honolulu. After his hitch was up, Dad went back to the University of Wisconsin on the GI Bill and got a degree in chemistry. I don’t know where Mom was at the time but she has said that she joined him to watch some UW football games.

Mom & Dad were married on 25 September 1947 and they settled in a Chicago apartment. Dad was working in the stockyards at the time. He ended up being good for the meat industry; his name is on a few patents, one of which was so profitable that Hormel doubled his salary.

Maternal Grandfather - Died of lung cancer and tuberculosis when my mom was 14 years old. He spent the last 10 years of his life in and out of the hospital. She says she doesn’t remember ever being able to hug him.

Paternal Grandfather - He was a music professor at a university, but when he wasn’t doing that he was a drunk SOB who beat up his kids. Even still, he was better parent than…

Paternal Grandmother - Who gave away two children even before she married my dad’s father. Two weeks after my dad was born, she ran off with her lover and left my dad and his three siblings with my paternal grandfather and great-grandmother. My dad says he saw her at Christmas and his birthday when she’d bring him a bag of fruit. She was shot and killed by her lover when my dad was 16.

Maternal Grandma - My only living grandparent. She only went to the second grade in school, but taught herself to read and write. She was basically a single parent and raised four children. The youngest of which was adopted while she worked as a nurse’s aide at the hospital. A young woman had given birth to him, but didn’t want or couldn’t afford him so my grandma said she’d take him. She’s not an affectionate woman and comes across as being a bit cold, but she’s not.

She dated and lived with a man for 20 years, but they never married. She said she was married once and that was enough for her. Manual, the boyfriend, was a kind man and my mother credits him for showing her what a father’s love is. He was kind, gentle, and loved my grandmother. When my grandma could no longer take care of him (he was much older), his family put him in a nursing home. My mom and grandmother visited him twice daily to feed, shower, change, and take care of him until his death. Once when I was visiting him, he told me that he’d prayed to God and that he was at peace and ready to die. And, that all he wanted to was to be with my grandma when it happened because that was when he was most happy.

I never new either of my grandfathers - they both died of heart disease before I was born.

My dad’s father was an immigrant from Sweden who married a Southern girl and worked at an auto manufacturing plant in Flint, Michigan. One of his daughters told me he would not teach his kids Swedish. He changed the spelling of his name when he came here, to be more “American.”

My mom’s dad was an Illinois farmer of Scottish descent. Mom says he was very tall. That’s all I know about him.

My mom’s mother died (heart disease) when I was in grade school - I only remember meeting her once, and she frightened me, because she was so large and had a harsh looking face (in fact, her picture reminds me of FDR, with the big dark circles around the eyes). She had 11 kids.

My dad’s mother is the only grandparent I really knew - we used to see her every holiday, and several times in the summer, as she lived about 3.5 hours away. She had a great backyard - it was very large and had lots of tropical plants. I thought she was a pretty neat lady - she was sort of tomboyish, would play ball with my brother & I, liked to go hiking and white-water rafting even in her 60’s. She worked as a nurse to support her family after her husband died. One thing I didn’t like about her was that she smoked a lot. She died of heart disease when I was about 30.

Paternal - Pillar of the community Presbyterian. Emotionally distant and emotionally and physically abusive.

Maternal - Music was his passion he played different kinds of saxaphone, piano, and several reed and brass instruments. He died when I was nine so while I remember seeing him play and listening to him practice I don’t remember all the instruments. Scottish Canadian who came to Texas in the early 1950’s. Sold furniture during the day and played music in the clubs at night. I guess the most well know name he played with was either Tommy Dorsey or Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra for a time. I can’t recall which.

I never knew my paternal grandfather, but my maternal grandfather just turned 94 and lives in Las Vegas. He was born in Manhattan to Sicilian immigrant parents, and he grew up in a house on King St. that once belonged to Aaron Burr (no kidding). He’s one of 8 children, 2 of whom are now deceased. He was a sneaky devil as a kid – for example, I know he bribed the policeman who gave him the test for his driver’s license so that he’d pass. He became an accountant and moved to Chicago in the ‘30s and worked on the books for Paramount Pictures. My grandmother was his secretary. He fought in Patton’s 3rd Army during WWII (and apparently was the go-to guy whenever you needed contraband or other hard-to-get items…although his superiors trusted him enough to count and guard a huge amount of German gold they confiscated). He moved to Lincoln, NE after the war (where my mom and all her siblings were born), and then in 1962 he moved the family to Las Vegas and worked for the Sands Hotel as an accountant until he retired. He’s got the most amazing memory I have ever seen – he can tell you what his friends’ girlfriends were wearing at a Christmas party in 1932. 94 years old. He’s great.

Too bad my grandma was crazy. She probably had a Borderline personality disorder. Crazy and abusive, but my grandfather worshipped her and to this day (I guess that memory of his is selective) believes they never once raised their voices to each other. Not true by a long shot.

Paternal - don’t know anything about her. She committed suicide when my dad was 13.

Maternal - French Canadian from St. Anne and New Brunswick, bossy, selfish, drunk for most of my childhood and didn’t stop drinking until a stroke, great cook, wonderful conversationalist, loved to go fishing with my granddad, taught me how to embroidery, knit and crochet. She was a cigarette girl and later a coat check girl in a night club in Toronto when she met my grandfather. After they came to Texas she went to beauty school and was a hair dresser until she retired.

Maternal: overly religious, sanctimonious and distant man who didn’t do much except pray and insist on falling pooja rules to the T. Left most of the bringing up of his children to my grandmother. He was exceedingly goodlooking though-so all 6 of his children are pretty blessed on the beauty side of things. Never paid much attention to me while I was alive-I was a girl so I didn’t really matter.

Paternal: socialist, active in the Indian independence movement, did social work all of his life. He was an Accountant for a British company until he became a follower of Ghandi, worked in the Independence movement getting jailed etc. etc. After Independence he married an orphan who was a friend of the family (my grandma), inherited his three brother’s widows and children and moved them all to Southern Goa from Bombay which is where their family is from. Was very active his entire life. Unfortunately his earlier cigarette habits caught up with him-he died in his late 50s on my parents’ first wedding date. They had to delay it for a couple of months after that. He sounds like a neat man.

Oy, that’s GANDHI, lol…I’ve mistype that all the time b/c of someone’s user name, I think on this site.

Oy, that’s GANDHI, lol…I’ve mistype that all the time b/c of someone’s user name, I think on this site.

I only had one grandpa (1893-1968)(maternal). I was raised by him (and my grandmother.)
He taught me I could be anything. He taught me to learn and to be curious. He always answered my questions, even the hundredth one in a day. If he didn’t know the answer, he said so.
He taught me to run a chain saw and a sewing machine. He taught me to treat animals gently, and by so doing, I learned to treat people gently.
He taught me that love is unconditional. He taught me to value truth.
He died when I was 22. I’m 58 now and I still miss him.