My Grandfathers' Depression Adventure (Hoot, this is the one I promised you)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Hoot, When I first started following your yarns, I said you reminded me a lot of my grandfather with your insights. This is Grandpas' account of the "small world we live in", I promised you then.
During the Depression, he and my grandmother and father lived in Athens AL. Grandpa had a CCC job clearing timber on the river for TVA and was also doing electrical work. He said he was bringing in a lot better pay than most, if i recall correctly, about $7.00 a week or so. In the evenings, after work, he would hang out at the train station by the square. One particular day at the station, a drifter came off a freight, begging leftovers from the workers lunch buckets. Grandpa said that he felt for this man and his having to ride the rails to provide for his family so he looked in his pocket, finding $1.47. Since it was only two days to payday and there was food in his larder, Grandpa gave this drifter $1.25, not thinking anymore about it, just glad he could help. Grandpas' story fast forwards about two or three years now. The TVA work done, he found himself back at the train station, not to hang out, but instead saying goodby to my father and grandmother who are moving in with a foster family in Decatur, while he rides the rail, looking for work to send money home. The rail took him all the way to a construction job in south Texas. When he got to the job site , he went to the job trailer, where they were hiring day laborers. The foreman asked him what he wanted to do. Grandpa said "I want to work." . The foreman said he knew that, he wanted to know what job he wanted and that whatever he picked was his for as long as Grandpa wanted it and the foreman was in charge. Grandpa picked the steam shovel operator job , thanked the foreman for being so nice. The foreman said it wasn't anything about being nice, instead he remembered a lonely night in Athens Al when a tall , lanky man gave him seven bits, and a firm handshake. The foreman said he didn,t think there could be two men in this world as tall as Grandpa with " a smile that wide and ears that big" .Grandpa said that $1.25 was the best money he ever "spent". I have explained to my wife, that this is the reason I always like getting stopped at freight crossings, getting to watch the trains creep by. I guess it really is a small world.
-- Jay Blair (email@example.com), October 19, 2000
Hey Jay! Thanks for that memory of your grandad. Maybe it's something in the water but I am intrigued by trains also. My granpap was a railroad man way back and in fact fled inland in the Galvaston flood. He was workin layin tracks there and had worked on the Santa Fe in Kansas before coming to Texas. I also have to stop and wait for an approaching train, just to have a "look see". The steamers are my favorite but the diesels will do. Sounds like your granpap and I would've really hit it off. You have every right to be proud of him. Thanks for the story. Matt. 24:44
-- hoot gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 19, 2000.
"He was 80 years old in 63, and I loved him and he loved me, and Lord I cried the day he died, cause I thought that he walked on water" !(Randy Travis)
Great story Jay ! I am blessed to live on the land of my grandfather. Memories are great motivaters, kep them coming.
-- Joel Rosen (Joel681@webtv.net), October 20, 2000.
I still like going into the small town near us and sitting in the band gazebo the beautification committee put up beside the historical depot and sit, watch and think . The one lesson that I'll always remember, "If you can't wait 5 minutes for that train to pass, take that time to figure how your life got to running like a cannonball express and try to slow down and enjoy the next freight through.". To this day, I like being the first car at the crossing and sit on the hood, where I can get the engineer to blow a long one, just like when I was a kid. Best part is when my son and I look at the people behind us, thinking we are holding them up by sitting there. We know we arn't going anywhere and always get back in the car before the gates come up, so no time is really lost. Something ironic to me that I didn't include in the main post, Grampa pasted away in '75 beside the tracks not 100 yards from his home. The coroner said it was natural causes, he just quit breathing. My father and I believe he just figured it was time to catch the last train home after 76 years of good living.
-- Jay Blair (email@example.com), October 20, 2000.
Jay, I wanted to tell you that when I told this story to a friend a few days ago, I actually broke down and cried!! It really touched me, and I want to say Thank You for sharing it. Cathy in NY
-- Cathy Horn (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 26, 2000.