Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Storyteller (An Old Re-Run)

This is a slightly modified version of an old post. If you read this one already - you can click to another blog.

My youngest son was born a few weeks before my grandfather passed away. My grandson Jack was born a few weeks before my dad died. Strange how history repeats. I hope my grandson waits a loooonnnnggg time to have kids. So here I am - JaxPop posting something about 'Dave's Pop'. (Dave would be me. What... you thought JaxPop was my real name???)

The picture at the top of this post truly represents the beginning of my love for stories. It's an old watercolor from 1898 in a battered frame. Yeah, I was just a wee lad when this was painted. This picture hangs in a large closet in the master bedroom sitting room - where many of my books are shelved. As much as I love this old painting, it ain't makin' it to the hallowed walls to mix with Debs 'tropicasual' decor. It was given to me in 1980, just after 'Pop' was buried.

When I was a kid, I stayed at my grandparent's house at least one weekend every month & this picture hung in his room (next to a cut out Santa that I 'colored' when I was about 3 - Sentimental old codger he was).

'Pop' was from a large family - 15 kids altogether & I think he was number 10 out of the brood. School wasn't a big priority in those days so, at the tender age of 9, he went to work, in the coal mines, to help pay the bills &, I guess, to make it easier for great grandpa & grandma to continue adding to the population of the Pennsylvania Dutch community. The point is, even without the education, he was a magnificent storyteller.

It became a game. Whenever I visited, I would ask what the big guy was saying to the little chubby guy. Pop had the most twinkly blue eyes & he always started his tales with a squint. (Why do I remember that?) I was never disappointed. His stories would go on for nearly an hour, & I never budged an inch. He loved it when I would hit him with questions 'cause he could keep elaborating. In the end, I suppose, I've decided that the tall guy in the picture was & would forever be 'the boss'.

When my boys were young, I made up stories to tell them. They're all grown now and, since my grandkids live so far away, there was only one way to continue the tradition, I started writing. A key chapter in BAD LATITUDE incorporates my grandfather as a character, making him the one ultimately responsible for acquiring a certain diary & map, both integral components in my tall tale based here in St Augustine. Thanks Pop - for teaching me to tell such whoppers.

Above is a rare photo of my grandfather, without his engineer's hat. Notice the belt worn with suspenders & the missing thumb on the right hand. When I asked him how he lost that thumb he would only say it was 'cause he was just too damn slow. Not shown is his left hand - also missing a finger. Must've been REALLY slow.

Hopefully my stories will always do my Pop proud.