My dad’s father always seemed to be working the swing shift, when my cousin, Cheryl, and I spent the night with them. Grandma K would pack us in the old Chevy and we would go pick him up at 11 PM. We would giggle and be silly in the back seat in our pajamas, all ready to be tucked in as soon as we were back at their house. What fun, to be out so late at night. I loved the drive to the mill where Grandpa K worked. We took the River Road with its curves and the big dip under the Santa Fe Railroad Bridge. The Kansas River was beautiful and mysterious with the moon reflecting on the water.
The words we shared with our grandparents on those rides are long gone, only the feeling of being valued and loved remains. Grandpa K would greet us and tease us a little. Later, Cheryl and I would giggle and whisper in bed. Grandma K would shush us, we would be still for a second, and then start whispering again.
Grandpa K was a sports fan. He knew all kinds of facts and trivia about all kinds of sports. We were very quiet whenever ball games of any kind were on his TV. Always interested in history and genealogy, I spent hours making family tree charts with information Grandpa and Grandma K gave me. Grandpa K never talked much about his childhood. What little I know I gleaned from Dad, Aunt Norma, Aunt Margie and Grandpa K’s youngest brother, Orville.
West Virginia is where Grandpa K was born in 1901. He was third from the oldest in a family of nine surviving children. His parents came to Kansas in a covered wagon when he was three. When Grandpa was a young teenager, his father packed them all in a covered wagon again. This time they were off to the “Promised Land” on the Canadian plains. On their way back south from the ‘not so promised land’ up north, they had no food and were starving. Grandpa K walked to the nearest town and begged to work for food for his mother and younger siblings.
In 1918, Grandpa K went to McPherson College in McPherson, KS to become a minister. He fell ill with the influenza. The doctor sent him to Arizona for his health. When he got there, he said there were too many sick people. He turned around and came back home. After that, he farmed and did whatever he needed to support himself and his family.
The other day I was talking to my Dad’s sister, Norma. I asked her to tell me the warmest memory she had of her father. Two memories popped into her mind. He would tie one end of a rope to the fencepost and turn the rope from the other end so she and Margie could jump rope together. She said he would be outside, after school when she was in the first grade. They would walk home holding hands. She remembered she has the Bible her mother gave him for his 40th birthday. He could quote Bible verses all day long.
Grandpa K was born 110 years ago today. In 1982, we went back to the small south central Kansas town he loved for his funeral. An older gentleman approached us. He told my dad that Grandpa K was the hired man on his father’s farm many years ago. He came to pay his respects to the hard working young man he remembered.
Grandpa would have been pleased.………………….
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